Archives de catégorie : author

What I have read: Ishiguro, de Vigan, Mazzeo

What I read in bulk, Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Prize in Literature (2017) as well as Booker (1989) for The Remains of the Day, which I read a few years ago and which impressed me a lot. When I saw Nocturnes (2011), at Nelson's second-hand book market, I thought maybe I'd like it, even if it was five short stories, a genre I don't  usually like. And what had thrilled me in The remains of the day, the subtlety of the subject, the delicacy of the writing, bored me in these short stories having music as a common theme, with a similar subtlety, but without depth, or it's just that I don't like short stories. The Sunday Times reviewer actually summed it up nicely: 

Closing the book, it's hard to recall much more than an atmosphere or an air; a few bars of music, half-heard, technically accomplished, quickly forgotten. 

Maybe that's what he liked about the book, whereas for me, that's what bored me.
Delphine de Vigan. Nothing holds back the night (2011). Well,  I'm a little behind on new stuff, but it's too expensive to bring French books to New Zealand and I can't access Kindle or other electronic platforms either, which don't allow buying books from other countries (I don't understand why). But, I'm quite happy to have found five or six books in French at the Nelson second-hand book fair, including this one, by an author I had already read Based on  a true story (2017) , a kind of autofiction that I talked about in the blog (in French). In Nothing holds back the night, she reflects on the life of her mother, who suffered from mental illness, the silence of the family, its effect on herself and her sister, in an authentic way, where one can feel her tenderness. Many questions, a few answers, in short, she revisits in an original way, the bottomless subject of the past, the family, the origins and the reliability of memory.

The Hotel on Place Vendôme, by Mazzeo Tilar J. (2014). Basically, it's more or less the story of the Ritz hotel in Paris, through its famous patrons, since the late nineteenth century, including Proust, Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Ingmar Bergman, Arletty, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but also  the German Occupation and war journalists. The author knows her subject well and the historical context surrounding particular events are well documented. A light way to understand history.
 

Carl Jung

thistle, Nelson 2022, Sylvie GE

I will not try and introduce Carl Jung, as there are many sites doing it very well, and I am not into quotes, but this one from the great thinker, from The Symbolic Life rang so true to me, as well as reflect what I am looking for in poetry, beyond the words. It comes from the Carl Jung facebook page, affiliated to the following site : http://www.appliedjung.com

« Every unequivocal so-called « clear » answer always remains stuck in the head and seldom penetrates the heart. The needful thing to know is not to know the truth but to experience it.

what I have read : Isabel Allende : Ines of my soul

Atacama desert, Chile, 2018, Sylvie GE

Isabel Allende, Ines of my soul, Fourth Estate, 2006, 313 p. I found this book at the Nelson second hand book fair last year. This is the first book by Isabel Allende that I read. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by her skill in telling this particular story. It remains to be seen if her other books are just as well written. I felt a real affection from Allende for Inès de Suarez, a seamstress born in Plasencia, Extramedura, Spain in 1507, who embarked for the New World at the age of thirty to join her husband, whom she never found. She instead became a conquistadora who was able to earn the respect of those she met. In 1538, she moved to Cuzco where, as a soldier’s widow, she received a piece of land and « Indians », as the natives of South America were called in those days. Shortly after, she met Pedro de Valdivia, the conquistador of Chile. She becomes his mistress and accompanies him in his long campaign of conquest.

Reading this book, I remembered the beautiful times I spent in South America. In fact, I would have liked to have read this book before travelling there, because Isabel Allende explains quite well the dynamic existing at the time, between the local populations and the Spaniards, the motivations of the conquistadores, their behavior towards « Indians « . One can feel the great respect she feels for the values ​​of the peoples of the territories where she lived, their absolute desire for freedom, their contempt for pain and death, their total incomprehension of the concept of land or human property, their understanding of nature, and many other things. She tells in details the story of Lautaro, of the Mapuche people who, according to what we know of him, would have been captured by the Spaniards when he was very young to take care of the stables and the horses of Valdivia. . After escaping, he led the charge with the Araucanians against the Spaniards. He later captured Valdivia, which he executed a month later. As for Inès Suarez, she was the mistress of Valdivia until the day he had to undergo a trial in Lima, at the end of which he agreed to drop Suarès (and find her a husband) in exchange for his own freedom. In 1549, Suarès married the captain of Valdivia, Rodrigo de Quiroga, with whom she then spent happy days devoting herself to charitable works until her death. We feel Isabel Allende’s affection for all the characters appearing in the 313 pages of her fictionalized story, but based on true documents, which she knows very well. I liked this book enough to make me want to go to the library to see if I could find another Allende book there.

Literary gossips

Botanical garden, Nelson 2021, Sylvie GE
I received two books as a gift, first the latest John Banville, April in Spain, in which the character of Quirke, part of the detective fiction series written by Banville under the assumed name Benjamin Black, returns with a new adventure in Spain. Reviews are generally good and the publication of this book prompted an interview with the rather elusive author. He said writers are monsters taking everything around them to write (okay enough with that), whatever needs to be done  for a good paragraph! He lives in his bubble away from controversy and praise towards him, in love with the silence created by the pandemic. The other book, ordered, but not yet arrived, the latest Jonathan Franzen. I had liked Correction very much, but hadn't read anything from him since. He too lives more or less isolated from the world, sharply criticized when he refused the invitation of Oprah Winfrey to appear on her bookclub (he was considered quite snobbish), which would have actually made him a lot of money. As for me, someone who loves birds as much as he does, cannot be that bad. At the moment, I am reading the lates Patricia Lockwood, who is on the shortlist for the booker prize (I got it from the library which, in itself, is a miracle). So far, I like what I read.  Finally, I have no idea how I came across this information about Lionel Shriver, whom I have spoken about twice on this blog (a book critical of the American healthcare system and another more or less about l 'money), which I like sometimes, for some reason, and sometimes not at all. In 2013, her exercise routine consisted of 130 push-ups, 500 sit-ups and 3,000 jumping jacks. This is how she ruined her knees among other things. I have to thank her for showing me what not to do.

What I have read (Crime and punishment)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (his best-known book). A book that goes well with short and dark  winter days in  the Antipodes (434 pages of very small print, bought at the annual book fair in  Nelson). The title Journey to the End of Conscience, Guilt and Remorse would also suit this book very well. The story revolves around the main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikoff, a student who coldly murders the money-lender with whom he has dealt, but is  gripped with remorse afterwards. The remainder of the book is an unparalleled introspection of the human mind that has not aged in any way since its publication in 1866. After a certain number of pages, I had the impression that he had said everything there had to say on the matter and was wondering what was to come next, and that's what impressed me the most, he uses a seemingly minor detail or character that he introduced previously to resume his thinking and continue the examination from all possible angles of guilt, remorse and conscience in 19th century Russia. If the depths of the human soul seem universal, certain aspects of the behavior of the characters, on the other hand, seemed very different to me, in particular the sense of honor or the way of interacting and of gauging (or judging) each other the others, which portrays better the century and the country of the author. A very good reading choice for those who want to read a classic, but avoid it  if you want something light. It took me several weeks to read it, because of the heaviness of the reflexion (and also because I read less quickly in English).