The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross

 

spotted on Nancy’s update

Translated by Anselm Hollo from the Finish edition by Ivo Iliste: so this is a translation of a translation uh-oh!

Estonia under Imperial Russia 1850

Opening: First, let me recall the occasion that impelled me to begin this journal.

Alexander I of Russia

Schlusselburg Fortress

The ‘Mad’ Tsar, Paul I

The translation is a bit ropey, however one becomes so engrossed in the story, that doesn’t seem to matter. Started to get well and truly fed up with the journal-keeping bro’ by page 100 or so.

Toyed between 3 and 4* and went for the lower because of the translation and that annoying brother. That said, I am pleased to have read another perspective on the era that leads up to the revolution.

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Henry by Elizabeth Yandell

 

bookshelves: hardback, one-penny-wonder, published-1976, gardening, summer-2014, autobiography-memoir, kent, nonfiction, britain-england

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Sylvester
Read from August 05 to 22, 2014

 

This book originally comes from Cromwell Bookshop (S A Maher) 67a Pears Road, Hounslow, MX TW3 1SS. The original receipt is still within the pages.

Illustrated by Faith Jaques

God gave us memory
in Springtime
that we might have roses
in December
Kent 1894 Jersey 1973

Opening: I was one year old when I fell for Henry. Thereafter I was his devoted slave. It was on record and a standing joke,that when I became aware of him as a person, as distinct from all others who prodded my middle in passing, I squirmed right round in my bassinet and pitched out over the hood.

The magic of childhood clung to Henry as scraps of eggshell cling to newly hatched chicks. Magic waked with him; all around him. A pied piper. Spinner of the most enchanting fairy stories and animal tales.

Love stories that feature gypsies (and pirates too, of course, when I can get my handies on them), thanks Sylvester. Henry is a breath of fresh Kentish air from start to finish and fully recommended to anyone who wants a change of pace and/or some time out glimpsing into a world gone by. A short yet rich read. Four gypsy caravans.

The Vesuvius Club (Lucifer Box,#1) by Mark Gatiss

 

Description: Following a dinnertime assassination, Lucifer is dispatched to uncover the whereabouts of missing agent Jocelyn Poop. Along the way he will give art lessons, be attacked by a poisonous centipede, bed a few choice specimens, and travel to Italy on business and pleasure. Aided by his henchwoman Delilah; the beautiful, mysterious, and Dutch Miss Bella Pok; his boss, a dwarf who takes meetings in a lavatory; grizzled vulcanologist Emmanuel Quibble; and the impertinent, delicious, right-hand-boy Charlie Jackpot, Lucifer Box deduces and seduces his way from his elegant townhouse at Number 9 Downing Street (somebody has to live there) to the ruined city of Pompeii, to infiltrate a highly dangerous secret society that may hold the fate of the world in its clawlike grip

Opening words:
I have always been an appalling judge of character. It is my most beguiling virtue. What, then, did I make of the Honourable Everard Supple whose likeness I was conjuring on to canvas in my studio that sultry July evening?

I have waded through some guff this week – now it’s the WHEEEEEEEKEND and I return my thoughts and random snerkles to this, whilst intermittently ‘avast’ing away with snippets of teh ‘enry Morgan. Tell me what could be better and I will call you a liar.

Fun but less so from The Pale Man onwards.

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

The Half Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen, Kenneth Steven (Translator)

The Half Brother
 

bookshelves: translation, one-penny-wonder, norway, families, epic-proportions, summer-2012, tbr-busting-2012, published-2001, teh-demon-booze, teh-brillianz

Read from April 13 to June 26, 2012

 

Translated from the Norwegian by Kenneth Steven

Opening: Thirteen hours in Berlin and I was already a wreck.

Came across this author/translator combination in the menacing short story about a barber in The Norwegian Feeling for Real

Page 19: ‘Like a Sphinx,’ I replied. ‘Like a blue sphinx that has torn loose from a floodlit plinth.’

Page 29:  ‘Now I’ll tell you word for word what that wretched creature wrote! We, his close followers, now bow our heads at his death.’ (This refers to the afternoon edition of Aftenposten 7th May 1945.)

 

The Chocolate Girl pulls Arnold down beside her and puts her arms around him. Arnold grows in her arms and she explains just about everything to him.”

page 141:
Mundus vult decipi – The world will be taken in
Ergo decipiatur – thus it is deceived

Page 159: ‘He talks like a novel we once threw in the stove.’

 

Page 177: Røst ö, a fullstop in the sea

Page 179: 

‘And besides, they haven’t tarmacked over the Moskenes whirlpool yet.’

 

Page 239: “ Livin’ Lovin’ Doll – Cliff Richard Mum and Dad danced in the living room and for the remainder of the night they were equally loud in bed.”

 

Page 332: ‘Why is it called Greenland when there is only ice there?’ I asked. ‘Because the first people who reached it found a beautiful flower called convallaria, Barnum.'”

Page 335: I skipped supper and went to bed before ten, even though I wasn’t especially tired and I actually loathed the slow movement before you fell asleep, when you just lie there and time stretches like an elastic band, like round brackets, like a blue balloon.

Page 475: And Lauren Bacall looks at Bogart – she glows, glows in black and white, and her nostrils flare like an animal’s, the nostrils of a lioness. And she laughs – Bacall’s laughter – she mocks him, You’re a mess, aren’t you? And Bogart just answers, I’m not very tall either. Next time I’ll come on stilts.

 

Page 531: Sinnataggen, Frogner Park. Famous statue of an angry child.”

IMHO The defining moment of this story comes on Page 686: ‘What’s your favourite film?’

‘Hunger,’ I told her.

She smiled, pleased with the answer. ‘So your script is a kind of response to Hamsun?’

‘You could well say that,’ I agreed.

‘And your description of this farm, which is almost synonomous with a penal colony, is a kind of revolt against Hamsun’s fascism?’

 

The best summation I can come up with is that this documents the Norwegians return to Hamsun’s body of work in these years since he wrote that damnable obituary and this story is Hamsun-esque with a modern makeover. Truly astounding.

 

Leopard VI: The Norwegian Feeling for Real by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck, Jan Kjarstad

Leopard VI by Harald Bache-Wiig
 

 

Who doesn’t like the cover (excluding Scott from Utah of course); an extra star right there!

1. On An Old Farmstead in Europe by Hans Herbjörnsrud, translated by Liv Irene Myhre. A recounting of one of Norway’s oldest myths ‘Blind Margjit and the Man with the Eyes’.

2. The Dogs in Thessaloniki by Kjell Askildsen, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland. Pug-Ugly domestic scenario.

3. Ice by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Kenneth Steven. Had to read this one eyes through splayed fingers. Excellent suspense.

4. The Cock and Mr. Gopher by Jonny Halberg, translated by Don Bartlett. Culinary addiction.

5. I Could Not Tell You by Jon Fosse, translated by May-Britt Akerholdt. blergh – s.o.c. affected shite.

6. Cows by Lars Amund Vaage, translated by Nadia Christensen. Well that was a dairy farmer’s wet dream but no more entries like that, I hope.

7. The Last Beat Poets in Mid-Hordland by Ragnar Hovland, translated by James Anderson. Lovely story.

8. The Jealous Barber by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven. A psychological thriller that was noirly amusing in its absurdity.

Just when I am mentally composing the end rant about the lack of female writers here, next up is a goodie:

9. The Pillar by Karin Fossum translated by Robert Ferguson. Bullying father reveals his fecklessness.

10. The Catalogue by Jostein Gaarder and translated by James Anderson. Superb piece of nihilism surrounding an every leap-year global publication.

11. A Good Heart by Karin Sveen and translated by Katherine Hanson. Crofting community and the question of hand-me-downs ♥♥♥

12. The Motif Herbjørg Wassmo and translated by Donna H Stockton. Not so much!

13. Dublin in the Rain by Frode Grytten and translated by Peter Cripps.

14. I’m Asleep by Tor Ulven and translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Lots of individual ideas to ponder upon here, however, does that make a good story?, I don’t think so.

This is the most ‘quotable snippets’ entry but I cannot recommend it as a whole.

15. Love by Hanne ørstavik and translated by James Anderson

A path runs into the forest, from a secret, forgotten place.
If you can only find it, your body will follow its trace.
Past trees and flowers and anthills and up to a castle so rare,
In the castle sit three damsels, fabulous, fine and fair.
For the prince they sit there waiting, naybe he’ll come one day,
They’re singing a song in the meantime, a lilting, lugubrious lay.

16. The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973 by Tor Åge Bringsværd and translated by Oddrun Grønvik.

17. A Forgotten Petunia by Bjørg Vik and translated by Don Bartlett.

18. Deep Need – Instant Nausea by Trude Marstein and translated by Don Bartlett.

19. The Story of the Short Story by Kjartan Fløgstad and translated by Sverre Lyngstad.

20. Life of a Trapper by Gro Dahle and translated by Katherine Hanson.

21. It’s So Damned Quiet Øystein Lønn, trans by Steven T. Murray.

22. Veranda With Sun Laila Stein, Katherine Hanson

22. Homecoming Jan Kjæstad, Sverre Lyngstad

23. The Long Trip by Beate Grimsrud, translated by Angela Shury-Smith

————————————-

Edited by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck and Jan Kjærstad.

Introduction by Harald Bache-Wiig.
—————————————-

Now a good thing about anthologies is that you can get a taster, a little peek at an unknown writer. Having enjoyed #3 I have ordered a book by Roy Jacobsen about the northern war.

Black Man by: Richard K. Morgan

 

Home read. Hard Cover 546 pages AND the audio file.

Description: Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth’s distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back – and into a lucrative living as a bounty hunter and hit man before a police sting landed him in prison – a fate worse than Mars, and much more dangerous.

Luckily, his “enhanced” life also seems to be a charmed one. A new chance at freedom beckons, courtesy of the government. All Marsalis has to do is use his superior skills to bring in another fugitive. But this one is no common criminal. He’s another Thirteen – one who’s already shanghaied a space shuttle, butchered its crew, and left a trail of bodies in his wake on a bloody cross-country spree. And like his pursuer, he was bred to fight to the death. Still, there’s no question Marsalis will take the job. Though it will draw him deep into violence, treachery, corruption, and painful confrontation with himself, anything is better than remaining a prisoner. The real question is: can he remain sane – and alive – long enough to succeed?

First Sentence: He finally found Gray in a MarsPrep camp just over the Bolivian border and into Peru, hiding behind some cheap facial surgery and the name Rodriguez

Now if the story unfolds along the same lines of this brilliant first sentence I will have a damn fine read, don’t you think?

After a quick skim down through the community ratings this seems to be a marmite read and I am already (in chapter three) fed up with the f bomb.

Throwing in the towel at 40%. Life is too short for this annoyance.