A Matter of Life and Death

bookshelves: summer-2014, translation, ukraine, published-1996, under-500-ratings, noir, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, satire, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, amusing, lifestyles-deathstyles

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Fionnuala
Read from April 17 to June 24, 2014

Translated from the Russian by George Bird


Marital troubles?
Sick of life?
Suicide the answer?
Why not get yourself a contract killer?

Nothing easier, provided you communicate only by phone and box number. You give him your photograph, specify when and where to find you, then sit back and prepare to die.
Murdered, you will be of greater interest than ever you were in life. More to him than met the eye will be the judgment. A mysterious killing lives long in the popular memory.

Our hero meticulously plans his own demise, except for one detail: what if he suddenly decides he wants to live?

Opening: If I had smoked it might have been easier. Then each matrimonial sulk could have been followed by a cigarette or two, smoke and nicotine becoming for a while more a distraction than the sense and savour of life – like incense burnt for its own sake – and maybe even helping me discern some glimmer of joy in continued existence.

Here I am again in Kurkovian Kiev where the Dnieper waters run noir and rumour has it that there may be an assassination.

Grigory Skovoroda – first Ukranian Buddhist (page 12)

Chuckled at the James Hadley Chase reference, and if you are looking for a quick peek try the full film of Eve

Not much further to say for a 111 page short story where the book description has dealt with the salient issues, except of course, I enjoy Kurkov and am now hunting one of his concerning a thumb. have you read it?

3.5* Death and the Penguin
4* Penguin Lost
3.5* A Matter of Life and Death

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, paper-read, hardback, midlife-crisis, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, norway, spring-2013, bellybutton-mining, re-visit-2014, re-read, published-1996, spring-2014, under-500-ratings, oslo, trondheim, newtome-author, feckless-procrastination, food-glorious-food, lit-crit, politics, philosophy

Read from April 26, 2013 to May 06, 2014

First time around I abandoned this but I have been persuaded to give it another try: REBOOT 2014:

Description: An existential murder story. A master of Norwegian literature critiques contemporary society with wry wit.

It is Christmas Eve, and 55-year-old Professor Pål Andersen is alone, drinking coffee and cognac in his living room. Lost in thought, he looks out of the window and sees a man strangle a woman in the apartment across the street.

Professor Andersen fails to report the crime. The days pass, and he becomes paralysed by indecision. Desperate for respite, the professor sets off to a local sushi bar, only to find himself face to face with the murderer.

Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel of apathy, rebellion and morality. In flinty prose, Solstad presents an uncomfortable question: would we, like his cerebral protagonist, do nothing?

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries
Translation by Agnes Scott Langeland

Opening: It was Christmas Eve and Professor Andersen had a Christmas tree in the living room. He stared at it. ‘Well, I must say,’ he thought.

Trondheim Cathedral

A wooly, waffley story of three parts: politics and dinner; dither and literary criticism; then sushi with philosophy for dessert.

At least I made it to the end this time, however I do feel that Solstad is not the writer for me.

The Tribe by Stephen Poliakoff

bookshelves: play-dramatisation, published-1996, spring-2014, film-only, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, under-10-ratings, london, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, adventure, architecture, contemporary, lifestyles-deathstyles, ouch, casual-violence

Read from April 07 to 08, 2014


Description: The Tribe – Stephen Poliakoff (1998)
In this psychological drama, a real estate developer buys an old house in London, only to discover a group of bohemian squatters happen to be living there. While the developer intends to evict them, he soon finds himself intrigued by their lifestyle of free love and drug-fueled philosophical experimentation, and the longer he observes them, the more he longs to become a part of their world. Produced for the BBC, The Tribe stars Joely Richardson, Jeremy Northam, and Anna Friel.

From the interview with The Independent newspaper published today:

Poliakoff, the son of a Russian-Jewish father and Anglo-Jewish mother, grew up in a cultured household and attended Westminster School and Cambridge University. His fascination with the past stems from his parents, who were relatively old when he was born. “Their stories came from the 1920s and 1930s. They were both born just before the First World War, so that made all of the 20th century available.”

Chislehust caves.

Down House, today in the London Borough of Bromley was Darwin’s home.

3* Shooting the Past
2* Soft Targets
4* She’s Been Away
4* Playing with Trains
3* A Real Summer
WL Joe’s Palace
WL Capturing Mary
4* The Tribe