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.

 

The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth by Edvard Munch

Recommended for: Don, Laura, Susanna, Fionnuala
Read on May 29, 2014

Watch the Full Film (3:32:03)

La Belle Epoch Norwegian style.

From wiki: Hans Henrik Jæger (2 September 1854, Drammen, Norway – 8 February 1910, Oslo) was a Norwegian writer, philosopher and anarchist political activist who was part of the Oslo (then Kristiania) based bohemian group Kristianiabohêmen. He was prosecuted for his book Fra Kristiania-bohêmen and convicted to 60 days’ imprisonment in a supreme court ruling in 1886. He and other bohemians tried to live by the nine commandments Jæger had formulated in the Fra Kristiania-bohêmen.

The following year, he was forced to flee Norway. He had been sentenced to 150 more days in prison after the Norwegian government learned that he had sent 300 copies of Fra Kristiania-bohêmen to Sweden under the auspices of a volume of Christmas stories. He was a friend of Edvard Munch, and was the subject of one of Munch’s paintings.

And so to Paris…

And now Berlin, where he meets up with August Strindberg

Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska (8 June 1867 – 5 June 1901) was a Norwegian writer, famous for her liaisons with various prominent artists, and for the dramatic circumstances of her death. She was the model for some of Edvard Munch’s paintings. She had relationships with Munch and briefly with August Strindberg. In 1893, she married the Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. Together they had two children. She was shot by a young lover in a hotel room in Tbilisi in 1901, three days before her thirty-fourth birthday. See also The Legs of Izolda Morgan

How I feel for you, Munch, what with your poor health and existential angst.

Crime and Punishment

bookshelves: teh-brillianz, slavic, absolute-favourites, re-visit-2014, re-read, re-visit-2013, spring-2014

Read from January 01, 1978 to May 17, 2014, read count: ad infinitum

 

Description: Raskolnikov, a former student who is morbidly self-obsessed, murders an old woman money-lender with a borrowed hatchet in a desperate attempt to free himself from poverty. From the opening pages Dostoyevsky attaches us unflinchingly to his intense and mysteriously anti-hero, creating a web of intimacy and tension which is increasingly claustrophobic. Crime and guilt – its traumatic and inevitable successor – are the central themes running through the novel and the notions of ‘justifiable’ murder and the worldly retribution are depicted with a deft and razor-sharp precision.

Crime and Punishment both haunts and disturbs, yet, as the critic John Jones wrote, it is ‘the most accessible and exciting novel in the world’.

Many reads, and the Kingsley film is a perennial in our house. Now Brazilliant gives me the link to a 2002 BBC version

I’m in raptures… let’s see how this pans out.

The massive dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of pure gold. Designed and built by French architect Auguste de Montferrand.

Great men are not aftraid to be criminals. Does Putin see himself as a great man?

City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, paper-read, impac-winner, britain-ireland, amusing, teh-brillianz, spring-2014

Read from December 05, 2013 to April 13, 2014

 

This is his first novel; Barry has previously written short fiction and his collection ‘There Are Little Kingdoms’ won the Rooney Prize in 2007.

Words of praise for this book from the cover blurbs include:

unpredictable – Roddy Doyle
arresting – Irish Times
electrifying – Joseph O’Connor
fizzing – Glasgow Herald
sizzling – Scotsman
addictive – Sunday Times
visceral – Financial Times

Gosh, maybe I need asbestos reading gloves.

Dedication: for Olivia Smith

The first section is entitled October and the opening lines: Whatever’s wrong with us is coming in off that river. No argument: the taint of badness on the city’s air is a taint off that river. This is the Bohane river we are talking about. A backwater surge, malevolent, it roars in off the Big Nothin’ wastes and the city was spawned by it and named for it: city of Bohane.

Sound like the Ankh river from Discworld!

Best music? – Can only be this!

A fun read that comes across as an Irish Western. The prose won’t be to everyone’s taste as it is written in both Bohane Cant and Smoketown Patois.

Gant Broderick swings in from the Nothin’, and the ‘Bino is in the Land of Concrete and there is a settling to be done.

‘But the families of the Rises were united in a way they had not been for years, and hard-prepped for a move against the Fancy’

For the most I loved this ‘exhilarating’, ‘bold’, ‘zingy’ read, although the theme did become somewhat tiresome after a while, hence the star climb-down

p 66- ‘I think he’s about to throw a shape’

he Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels

Read from April 02 to 03, 2014

 

Book 1 – The Notebook

Book 2 – The Proof

Book 3 – The Third Lie

Three novellas rolled into one of the most powerful reads I have experienced about how ordinary people try to cope from day to day in times of war and political upheaval. Does it still have relevance in today’s world? You just have to look at Crimea to arrive at the correct answer to that particular question: within a week the area changed nationality, a perimeter minefield was dug in, barbed wires fences raised, old troops replaced by foreign troops, people executed or gone missing, certain books, songs and flags have become unacceptable, curfews in place and Whoosh!! a time-zone change. I bet the people there have either fled or are having to use new tactics just to survive.

I’m thinking a re-read will be needed now I know the story; a little more attention to detail to see if there were any cracks I could have prised open earlier.

A fantastic trilogy that was utterly jarring on the emotions and galling in its dispassionate cruelty.

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

bookshelves: teh-brillianz, fantasy, re-visit-2014, winter-20132014, published-1983, paper-read, fraudio, new-york, north-americas, picaresque, amusing, adventure, architecture, art-forms, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, love, magical-realism, period-piece

Read from January 01, 1992 to January 23, 2014

 

woot – magical realism has a new benchmark in my humble opinion! This is superb stuff, all the characters are so fully realised.

Revisit via audio before the film comes out 14th Feb 2014 and this is narrated by Oliver Wyman. Given the unusually cold weather, dubbed artic vortex, that is subsuming the north americas at this time one could think, at a stretch, that this is a marketing ploy by the movie house sponsor.

“The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one’s soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.”

Film trailer

Film theme tune is ‘Wings’ by Birdy

The song I would prefer because I’m an Essex fan since first row, west end opening night of Jesus Christ, Superstar

The inscription on the monument refers to the bridge as the “eternal rainbow”, a simile used by Jackson Mead.

It is strange having Golem & Jinni on my bedside ipad and this on my daytime mp3 – both are set in an alternative New York City at the turn of the century. Also, I shall have to revisit The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard) to see which thief I prefer.

One book always leads to another, doesn’t it!?

21 likes

Any Human Heart

bookshelves: impac-longlist, booker-longlist, fraudio, published-2002, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, spies, historical-fiction, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, art-forms, epistolatory-diary-blog, south-americas, uruguay, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, sport, gr-library, france, paris, oxford, glbt, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, norfolk, teh-brillianz, greece, adventure, cover-love, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, london, madrid, war, wwii, lisbon, portugal, filthy-lucre, nassau, bahamas, switzerland, britain-scotland, iceland, suicide, teh-demon-booze, new-york, germany, picaresque, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, travel, edinburgh, those-autumn-years, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, north-americas, music, midlife-crisis, african-continent, afr-nigeria, skoolzy-stuff, dodgy-narrator, afr-somalia

Read from November 28, 2013 to January 16, 2014

Read by Mike Grady

From the description: The journals begin with Mountstuart’s boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

In the fashion of Zelig, Forrest Gump and the 100 year old man, Mountstuart is in all the right places meeting all the important people, however Any Human Heart is an absolute joy as Boyd’s writing leaves those also-rans in the starting gates.

Purringly enjoyed Logan’s slamming of the Bloomsbury set, that circle of spite who lived in squares and loved in triangles. Not sure about the portrayal of Duke and Duchess and for this reason I support a flawed, dodgy narrator scenario.

And that goodreads product description box – WTF! It is just a review filched over from Amazon book sales, with its inherent bias. Bad News! Check the product description elsewhere.

Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Joan Miró Ferra was a Spanish painter.

From wiki: Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943) was an American-born British Canadian gold mine owner, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He earned his fortune in Canada and in the 1930s moved to the Bahamas for tax purposes, where he was murdered in 1943 in notorious circumstances. The cause of death and the details surrounding it have never been entirely determined, and have been the subject of several books and four films.

Have the TV miniseries to watch at some stage, however, for now, I will mull over the full life of Logan MS – I am in my weeds for you.

4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart – recommended
4* Brazzaville Beach
WL Waiting for Sunrise
3* Armadillo
AB Solo