Research by Philip Kerr

 

Quercus Books

Dedication:

For Harry Armfield

Description: If you want to write a murder mystery, you have to do some research… In a luxury flat in Monaco, John Houston’s supermodel wife lies in bed, a bullet in her skull. Houston is the world’s most successful novelist, the playboy head of a literary empire that produces far more books than he could ever actually write. Now the man who has invented hundreds of best-selling killings is wanted for a real murder and on the run from the police, his life transformed into something out of one of his books. And in London, the ghostwriter who is really behind those books has some questions for him too…

Opening: It was the American novelist William Faulkner who once said that in writing you must kill all your darlings; it was Mike Munns – another writer, but like me, not half as good as Faulkner – who made a joke out of this quote when he telephoned my flat in Putney that Tuesday morning.

Ironical it is that this story is published ~ nine months after Prayer. The blurb for ‘Research’ includes this: a book factory publishing many bestsellers a year – so many that he can’t possibly write them himself. Heh.

‘Research’ is a standalone book with unsympathetic, two-dimensional characters and the ugliest cynicism towards the written word and mentality of readers I have ever encountered. I can’t work out if it is full-on satire or just partial but the outcome is the same, readers will be insulted.

Every behaviour has its impact.

Mainly this is an attack on all those combo authorships of test-tosh thrillers that churn out many books a year, yet Kerr is in his own firing line, two crap books in a year.

I took time out half way through just to pick up other stories to reassure myself that some authors still feel passionate about writing and care for their readers; what a breath of fresh air.

Although technically this is marginally a better book than ‘Prayer’ purely because it doesn’t bring Old Scratch out to play, ‘Research’ flat-lined out of any enjoyment factor. There wasn’t enough good stuff to make a feedback sandwich so I’ll just deliver the line: cynicism, snark, distain for readers, and authorial career suicide is not a pretty thing to witness.

3.5* March Violets (Bernard Gunther, #1)
3.5* The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther, #2)
3.5* A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther, #3)
3.5* A Quiet Flame (Bernard Gunther, #5)
1* Prayer
1* Research

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

Description:

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

The Legs of Izolda Morgan by Bruno Jasieński

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, essays, poland, politics, art-forms, philosophy, war, satire, translation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: biblioklept
Read from May 16 to June 05, 2014

 

Description: Considered the enfant terrible of the Polish avant-garde, lauded by critics and scorned by the public, Bruno Jasieński suddenly declared the end of Futurism in Poland soon after his short “novel” The Legs of Izolda Morgan, appeared in 1923. An extraordinary example of Futurist prose, this fantastic tale explores how the machine has supplanted the human while the human body is disaggregated into fetishized constituent parts. As one of the central texts in Jasieński’s oeuvre, it is situated between two seminal manifestoes and the important essay “Polish Futurism,” which signaled the movement’s end in the context of its confused reception in Poland, the towering influence of Mayakovsky, and what set it apart from the futurisms in Italy and Russia. The condensed story “Keys” shows Jasieński’s turn toward satire to lambaste the pervasive hypocrisies of powerful institutions, and this is further developed in the two longer grotesques from his time in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Translated into English from the Russian for the first time, these two late stories expose the nefarious absurdity of racial persecution and warmongering and the lengths social and political structures will go to underpin them.

1: To the Polish Nation: A Manifesto on the Immediate Futurization of Life Krakow April 20th 1921

Stanisław Brzozowski, 1878-1911. A Polish philosopher, writer, publicist, literary and theatre critic. He is considered to be one of the most important Polish philosophers of all time and is known for his concept of the ‘philosophy of labour’.

Wawel Hill

Stanisław Przybyszewski,1868–1927. A Polish novelist, dramatist, and poet of the decadent naturalistic school. In 1896 he was arrested in Berlin for the murder of his common-law wife Martha, but released after it was determined that she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2: Nife in the Gutt: 2nd Phuturist Pamflet Essay Krakow 1921.

3: Exposé Essay

4: The Legs of Izolda Morgan
Well, this is quite a grotesque Luddite story. The villain of the piece is machinery and the opposition is the human body, which can be deconsructed to suit the fetish of another.

5: Polish Furturism: An Accounting Essay

6: Keys Opens out with a 600 year old weather-beaten crucifix hanging in a niche near a vestible entrance.

7: The Nose: Satire on Nazi Eugenics.

8: The Chief Culprit First World War story. There is a moment in this where the concept of those returning from hospital to the front were more often killed straight away. Are there stats to back this up? What is that saying about things? Could it be that the return to normality takes the stuffing out of the bravura needed to maintain edge at the frontline.

Thanks to Don for sharing this book with me via a kindle library loan, the second of such kind actions. I was pleased to have a stab at this, however a mixed bag garners mixed reception. I had little time for the essays however the short stories were interesting, especially the re-vamping of Gogol’s ‘The Nose’ into a frame of Nazi Eugenics against the Jews.

** Interesting link sent through from Miss M: Polish Cultural Institute

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00fvg6c

Episode 1/2: A VIP visitor to a village is soon the target of love and gossip. Stars Julian Rhind-Tutt, Trevor Peacock and Bill Wallis.

Episode 2/2: The ‘Inspector’ becomes plied with cash and love. Satire of civic corruption in 19th-century Russia.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky played the postmaster Shpekin in a charity performance in April 1860

Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov

Kiev

Description: When last we saw Viktor, in the final pages of Death and the Penguin, he was taking his seat aboard the Expedition to Antarctica plane, fearing for his life. Meanwhile, Penguin Misha was left abandoned in a clinic recovering from a heart transplant. Now, in Penguin Lost, we join Viktor for his brief stay in and escape from Antarctica to discover that, characteristically, he has fallen on his feet. Visiting, on his return to Kiev, Penguinologist Pidpaly’s grave, Viktor mistakes an elusive child in white shirt and black shorts for Misha on funeral duty. He is first interrogated and then befriended by a Mafia boss who, while burying his contract-killed son-in-law, is also running for election as People’s Deputy. Viktor helps in his campaign, and is rewarded with introductions to those able to further his desperate search for Misha, said to be in the zoo of the murderous Chechen Khachayev. For Viktor, it is both a quest and an odyssey of atonement; for the reader, an experience as rich, topical and black-humouredly illuminating as Death and the Penguin.

Opening: It took Viktor three days to recover from the four spent crossing Drake Passage. In which time, the scientists who had sailed with him from Ushaia in the Horizon were already acclimatized and working fast to complete measurements and analyses before the onset of the polar night.

As you can see, this book starts off where the first one finished. Neat!

Vernadsky Base: (page 7)[..]after losing 16 men and two supply aircraft, the British had presented it [the base] to Ukraine.

Chechnya

Vernadsky Station, a Ukrainian base which was formerly the British ‘Faraday’ base.

3.5* Death and the Penguin
CR   Penguin Lost

SUPPORT UKRAINE

Turning Crimea into ‘Putinland’?
From Andrey Kurkov, Special for CNN
April 9, 2014 — Updated 0311 GMT (1111 HKT)

“Under pressure from the Kremlin, Russian airlines — the only ones now flying to the peninsula — have slashed prices on flights. I think Russian oligarchs will soon receive an order from the Kremlin to buy holiday packages to Crimean sanitoriums and resorts for their employees.”

Read more

Kiev Zoo Under Fire For Shocking Number Of Animal Deaths And Disappearances