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.

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

I Refuse by Per Petterson

I Refuse by Per Petterson


Random House UK, Vintage Publishing/ Harvill Secker. Translated by Don Bartlett.

Description: I refuse to compromise. I refuse to forgive. I refuse to forget.

Tommy’s mother has gone. She walked out into the snow one night, leaving him and his sisters with their violent father. Without his best friend Jim, Tommy would be in trouble. But Jim has challenges of his own which will disrupt their precious friendship.

Dedication:

to Øivind

Opening: DARK. IT WAS half past four in the morning. I was driving towards Herregårdsveien from Hauketo. Just before Ljan station I turned off to the left over the railway bridge, the lights were red, but there was no one else around, so I turned anyway.

I am inordinately fond of Petterson’s writing when he is on top form, and he so very nearly is here, with a tragic tale of family and friendship. A fab slice of Nordic gloom with an underlying translucency of Steinbeck’s ‘The Moon is Down’ and Telemark, fortified with repression and suppression. Three and a half fishermen.

5* Out Stealing Horses
4* To Siberia
4* In the Wake
2* I Curse the River of Time
2* It’s Fine By Me
3.5* I Refuse

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

Eugenie Grandet

bookshelves: summer-2014, series, france, fradio, radio-4, published-1833, filthy-lucre, lifestyles-deathstyles, play-dramatisation, suicide, translation, love, lit-richer, cousin-love, families

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

 

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04bmtpk

Description: Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation, starring Ian McKellen, of Balzac’s tragic novel revolving around Grandet, an ageing vine farmer, and his innocent young daughter Eugenie.

Monsieur Grandet, who has amassed a considerable fortune, is a miser who feigns poverty and runs his household along miserably frugal lines. All changes with the arrival of Eugenie’s handsome 22-year-old cousin, Charles Grandet, from Paris. Charles has brought with him a shocking letter from his father, Guillaume, who has committed suicide. He has placed his debts and the care of his son into his brother’s hands. It is a fatal decision, with ruinous consequences for the whole family.

Eugenie Grandet is considered by many to be the strongest novel in Balzac’s magnificent series, The Human Comedy. It pits a young naive girl against the father she has worshipped and this defiance sets us on course for the playing out of a heart-rending tragedy. Like King Lear, Grandet is a man who deeply loves the daughter who has defied him. He has no other child, no hope, no future but her. But in Balzac’s ‘human comedy’ the tragic and the comic exist side by side and this fruitful conjunction blossoms in Rose Tremain’s enthralling adaptation.

Cello and Treble Recorder: Alison Baldwin
Original Music: Lucinda Mason Brown
Produced and directed by Gordon House
A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4

1/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

2/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

Some lovely images on google piccies:

3* Cousin Bette
3* The Unknown Masterpiece
3* Eugénie Grandet

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.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

 

rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

bookshelves: amusing, sweden, published-2012, radio-4, summer-2014, translation, fradio, those-autumn-years

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Tjörn kommun
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 19, 2013 to July 19, 2014

 

BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048zlgv

Description: Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. Every morning he makes his rounds of the local streets, moving bicycles and checking the contents of recycling bins, even though it’s been years since he was fired as Chairman of the Residents’ Association in a vicious coup d’etat.

But behind the surly pedant there is a story, and a sadness.

When one morning his new neighbours in the house opposite accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it sets off a comical and heart-warming tale of unexpected friendship which will change the lives of one man – and one community – forever.

The word-of-mouth bestseller in Sweden is Fredrik Backman’s debut novel. The main protagonist was born on his blog, where over 1000 readers voted for Backman to write a book about a man called Ove.

Written by Fredrik Backman
Abridged by Libby Spurrier
Read by Kenneth Cranham
Producer: Joanna Green
A Pier production for Radio 4

1/10 Ove appears to have some incompetent new neighbours

2/10 Ove misses his late wife so much. He decides to end it all and join her in the afterlife.

3/10 Ove remembers that Rune’s takeover of the Residents’ Association soured things for good.

4/10 Ove’s incompetent new neighbours have a habit of appearing at precisely the wrong time.

5/10 Ove finds a cat-shaped hole in the snow drift outside his house.

6/10 Ove appears to have some incompetent new neighbours.

7/10 After some gentle bullying by Parvaneh, Ove agrees to teach her to drive.

8/10 After a shaky start, Ove manages to teach Parvaneh to drive.

9/10 Against Anita’s wishes, the local authority plans to take Rune into care.

10/10 When the authorities come to take Rune into care, Ove and his neighbours are ready.

Rating is three ‘oovers: