The Listener by Tove Jansson

bookshelves: autumn-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-1971, translation, radio-4

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 30 to September 05, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04g18g2

Description: Made for 4 Extra. Two young teenagers look after a sick man through the night. From Tove Jansson’s debut 1971 collection. Read by Indira Varma.

Creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson, a Swedish-speaking Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author is one of the most successful children writers ever. In her debut collection published in 1971 she tells of what we experience in youth, love, getting older and dying.

Translated by Thomas Teal into English for the first time in the UK to celebrate the centenary of her birth in August 2014.

Producer Karen Rose. Executive producer Jeremy Osborne.

Made for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Sweet Talk Productions

The Sleeping Man: Two young teenagers look after a sick man through the night.

The Wolf: Mr Shimomura wants to draw a dangerous animal, but first he must find one.

A Love Story: For the first time, the painter fell in love with a sculpture of a woman’s buttocks!

Letters to an Idol: She owned all of his books about love. He was her idol.

Lucio’s Friends: Everyone loves Lucio. Don’t they?

Famous for her Moomin books, this was TJ’s debut collection for adults translated this year to celebrate the centenary of the author’s birth. Neato! Each story has something to mull over, to roll around the mouth and smile about.

Beautifully read, calming in nature, these stories were lovely to listen to in the hammock under the shedding leaves in a 2014 Indian summer. The fourth story, ‘Letters to an Idol’ moved this delightful encounter from three to four nd because there were no Moomins in these stories, I shall import four to reflect this rating.

3* Finn Family Moomintroll (The Moomins, #3)
5* Moominland Midwinter (The Moomins, #6)
3* Moominvalley in November (The Moomins, #9)

4* The Summer Book
3* Travelling Light
1* The True Deceiver
4* The Listener

The True Deceiver

 
The True Deceiver - Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal, Ali Smith

bookshelves: winter20092010, fraudio, published-1982, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, translation, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, next

Read in December, 2009


Publisher description:
Deception—the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others—is the subject of this, Tove Jansson’s most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book, to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.

Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody’s talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children’s book illustrator, appears to be Katri’s opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna’s life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.

BBC description: Winter settles over the Swedish fishing village of Västerby. Katri offers to run errands for the ageing artist who lives on the outskirts. But what does this strange young woman want in return from Anna Aemelin?

Indira Varma reads from the novel by Tove Jansson. Abridged by Jeremy Osborne.

On her very first visit to the rabbit house, Katri identifies just which window will be the window of Mats’ new bedroom. The manipulative skills of the sociopath are very cleverly displayed by Jansson and one cannot help but feel sorry for Anna at the halfway mark.

Didn’t like this one at all.

3* Finn Family Moomintroll (The Moomins, #3)
5* Moominland Midwinter (The Moomins, #6)
3* Moominvalley in November (The Moomins, #9)

4* The Summer Book
3* Travelling Light
1* The True Deceiver
CR The Listener

The Spinning Heart

 

Description: In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

Dedication:

to the memory of Dan Murphy

Opening: MY FATHER STILL lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down. He smiles at me; that terrible smile. He knows I’m coming to check is he dead. He knows I know he knows. He laughs his crooked laugh. I ask is he okay for everything and he only laughs. We look at each other for a while and when I can no longer stand the stench off of him, I go away. Good luck, I say, I’ll see you tomorrow. You will, he says back. I know I will.

Rashomon effect at play in a small town after the Celtic Tiger died, the local employer went to the wall, and rotting canker was all that was left of where hearts used to be.

‘There’s a red metal heart in the centre of the low front gate, skewered on a rotating hinge. It’s flaking now; the red is nearly gone. It needs to be scraped and sanded and painted and oiled. It still spins in the wind, though. I can hear it creak, creak, creak as I walk away. A flaking, creaking, spinning heart.’

Bobby, the main-stay of these linked stories: ‘I had that King Lear’s number from the start, well before the teacher started to break things down slowly for the thick lads: he was a stupid prick.’

The Ballroom of Romance

 

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, families, love, published-1972, summer-2014, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read on August 30, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8nxx

Description: Niamh Cusack reads one of William Trevor’s greatest short stories, set in an isolated dance hall in Ireland.
Each Saturday night, 36-year-old Bridie leaves her ailing father, and cycles to the Ballroom of Romance, a wayside dance-hall where the local men and women meet to dance, talk and perhaps find love. For twenty years Bridie has cycled the seven miles there and back again; now, no longer a girl, she knows her chances of romance are fading but still there is Dano Ryan.

Reader: Niamh Cusack
Producer: Justine Willett
Writer: William Trevor – born in 1928, William Trevor is widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of short stories in the English language. He has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated five times for the Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Love and Summer. Last year he was awarded the inaugral Charleston/Chichester Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction

As you can tell, I am very partial to an atmospheric penned by William Trevor:

3* Love and Summer
3* The Collected Stories
3* Cheating at Canasta
3* A Bit on the Side
4* Death in Summer
4* The Hill Bachelors
WL The Children of Dynmouth
3* My House in Umbria
3* Reading Turgenev
3* The Ballroom of Romance
3* Angels at the Ritz
3* The Distant Past

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

bookshelves: victorian, summer-2014, tbr-busting-2014, published-1899, women, lit-richer, classic, fradio, play-dramatisation, shortstory-shortstories-novellas

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 16 to 21, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dk864

Description: Holidaying on Grand Isle in 1899, Edna Pontellier feels she is living in a dream, so the attentions of the dashing young Robert Lebrun serve merely to amuse her.

When it was published in 1899, Kate Chopin’s novel shocked society and divided critics. Respectable, married Edna Pontellier, 28, is away from her home in New Orleans, holidaying on Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico with her husband and children. Teaching her to swim is the debonair young Robert Lebrun, known for forming an attachment with a different woman every summer. Despite warnings from her more conventional friend, Adele, Edna falls incontrovertibly for Robert. When he leaves Louisiana for Mexico, Edna realises she’s been “awakened” and questions everything: her marriage, her position, the society she lives in. But what is left for her? The novel is regarded by many as the first in a new wave of modern American literature.
Produced and directed by Marion Nancarrow
Dramatised by Janice Okoh

1/5 Holidaying on Grand Isle in 1899, Edna Pontellier feels she is living in a dream.

2/5 After a disagreement with her husband, Edna plans a trip alone with Robert.

3/5 Edna continues to be enraptured by Robert’s company, but there is a shock in store for her

4/5 Leonce hopes a visit from her father will stop Edna’s unconventional behaviour.

5/5 Edna thinks Robert’s return will make her happy, but events are to overtake them both.

How kind of BBC to help me shift a long-term TBR item. I’m sure this was a pearl-clasping tale back then and opened many a young lady’s eyes.

Dr. Finlay Further Adventures of a Black Bag

bookshelves: summer-2014, britain-scotland, medical-eew, series, published-1947, shortstory-shortstories-novellas

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 11 to 20, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lwx7d

Description: Dr. Finlay is back ready to remedy all manner of ailments suffered by his patients in the Scottish Highland town of Levenford. In The Catch, Finaly moons over Nurse Angus while Dr. Cameron gets two archenemies to look after each other. Scarlet fever hits Levenford in The Fever and Finaly decides to do a little investigative work–with disastrous results. In Miracle by Lestrange, Finlay and Cameron find themselves out of favor as alternative medicine takes over the town, and in Birth and Death, a baby manages to teach the two doctors a hard lesson in humility. A fish bone promises Finlay a fast fortune in The Golden Fishbone, and finally, in The Match, Finlay plays a dangerous game when flirting with man-eater Georgina McNab. Finlay’s compassion and trademark Scottish humor make him a favorite.

1/6 Hysteria hits Levenford after the GP visits a well-known hypochondriac. AJ Cronin dramatisation with John Gordon Sinclair.

2/6 A mysterious overnight call leads the GP on a dark and dangerous journey.

3/6 When a Levenford black sheep turns over a new leaf, the GP is not convinced.

4/6 The GP gives temporary shelter to a young woman with a bullying husband.

5/6 A far-off face from the GP’s past sets social tensions boiling in Levenford

6/6 When the GP wakes up with a bad head, it is only the start of a very bad day.

Pierre and Jean by Guy de Maupassant

bookshelves: spring-2013, tbr-busting-2013, translation, e-book, gutenberg-project, france, published-1887, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, families, filthy-lucre, re-visit-2014, re-read, summer-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from March 06, 2013 to August 11, 2014, read count: 2

 

Revisit via BBC BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ccdql

Description: Guy de Maupassant’s compelling short novel, abridged in 4 parts by Penny Leicester, follows family rivalries in the seaport of Le Havre.

1/4. On a fishing trip all is happy with the Roland clan. Then returning home, a revelation..

2/4 The Marechal Will causes ructions between the brothers, then a second revelation surfaces.

3/4 Jean is happy of course, but Pierre burns with rage. So a confrontation is due.

4/4 The two brothers must take action to avoid a family showdown.

Reader Carl Prekopp
Producer Duncan Minshull.

Nutty NUUT read

Translator: Clara Bell

Opening: “Tschah!” exclaimed old Roland suddenly, after he had remained motionless for a quarter of an hour, his eyes fixed on the water, while now and again he very slightly lifted his line sunk in the sea.

Mme. Roland, dozing in the stern by the side of Mme. Rosemilly, who had been invited to join the fishing-party, woke up, and turning her head to look at her husband, said:

“Well, well! Gerome.”

And the old fellow replied in a fury:

“They do not bite at all. I have taken nothing since noon. Only men should ever go fishing. Women always delay the start till it is too late.”

From wiki: It appeared in three instalments in the Nouvelle Revue and then in volume form in 1888, together with the essay “Le Roman” [“The Novel”]. Pierre et Jean is a realist work, notably so by the subjects on which it treats, including knowledge of one’s heredity (whether one is a legitimate son or a bastard), the bourgeoisie, and the problems stemming from money.

Powerful story for it being so short.

#65 TBR Busting 2013

Tales Of London’s Docklands by Henry Bradford

 

First published 2007 as Slaves, Serfs and Wage-Slavery – A Tale of London’s Docklands

Description: Presents an anthology of true stories, drawn from the author’s personal experience as a Registered Docker in the Port of London. This work is an attempt to preserve the memories of day to day life of the docklands in the past. It is of interest to those whose relatives worked as dockers, and to social historians.

Opening: Eric was a year younger than me. Although we had been to the same school in Gravesend and I had encountered him as a boy, we came from different areas within the Borough and never got to know each other for two specific reasons. First, his father was a shipwright, employed by a ship repair company that operated within Tilbury Docks and on vessels on the River Thames. He was therefore classed as an artisan in full-time remunerative employment. This meant Eric was prime candidate for the A and B forms when we were at school. The second reason we didn’t get to know each other was that I was a docker’s son.

Liberally spotted with some fab photos from the author’s collection, I was engrossed in all the little anecdotal stories and built up a good idea of how it must have been working in the Port of London. The overall impression was it must have been a tough life no matter which rôle one worked.

Location 28/140: ‘He never took chances with men’s lives in an industry that had a horrendous number of accidental injuries and deaths. Dock working was always a dangerous game of chance.’

Three canny crane drivers who double up as important bods from the film industry.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace

bookshelves: e-book, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, summer-2014, historical-fiction, love, published-2010, nutty-nuut, italy, debut, newtome-author

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda, Dagny, Karen Legge, Joy, Susanna
Read from March 03 to August 05, 2014

 

Description: An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention
In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town’s most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don’t believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri.

When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world’s first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Dedication:

  for my mother: your trip to Italy

Opening quote:

‘Until morning comes say of the blind bird: His feet are netted with darkness, or he flies His heart’s distance in the darkness of his eyes.’

 — Wendell Berry, “Elegy”

Opening: ON THE DAY Contessa Carolina Fantoni was married, only one other living person knew that she was going blind, and he was not her groom.
This was not because she had failed to warn them.
“I am going blind,” she had blurted to her mother, in the welcome dimness of the family coach, her eyes still bright with tears from the searing winter sun. By this time, her peripheral vision was already gone. Carolina could feel her mother take her hand, but she had to turn to see her face. When she did, her mother kissed her, her own eyes full of pity.
“I have been in love, too,” she said, and looked away.

A tale as pure as the driven snow, and do you know what is even better? – The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a fictionalised account of a real breakthrough in the printed word. From A Brief History of Typewriters:

‘But the first typewriter proven to have worked was built by the Italian Pellegrino Turri in 1808 for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano; unfortunately, we do not know what the machine looked like, but we do have specimens of letters written by the Countess on it. (For details, see Michael Adler’s excellent 1973 book The Writing Machine. Carey Wallace’s 2010 novel The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is based on the relationship between the Countess and Turri.)’

Loc 24/129: ‘The summer that Turri began to visit her lake, when she was sixteen, Carolina had no reason to believe that she was a favorite with Pietro. But she had several well-worn bits of hope.’

Charmingly envisaged without playing to heavy romantic conjecture, this is a lovely short read. Three prototype typewriters that aid the blind.