Archives par mot-clé : whativeread

#4022What I have read : Deborah Levy

But before I get to Levy, a few other books I have read in the last few months 
David Lodge: Paradise News (1991), bought at last year's Nelson second-hand book fair. The back cover presents the book to us with a reflection on the notion of paradise, a description that is quite accurate. I know the author for his books on academia and he always makes me laugh or smile. Even in this book, which takes place a long way from the academic world (Hawaii, in this case), he manages to infiltrate an academic who reflects on mass tourism and its evils. I liked the book even if the last part is a bit lost.

Isabelle Allende: Violeta (2022), offered by LG. A book that examines the life of a centenarian, Violeta Del Valle, born in 1920. It begins with the description of the Spanish flu and one really wonders if it is 1920 or 2020. It then guides the reader in the intricacies of the story of a woman, her emotions and her country, wealth, poverty, the loss of loved ones and love. I liked the book, but now I don't know if I want to read any more. Not for the moment. 
John Banville: The lock-up (2023), courtesy of LG. This book is part of the Detective Benjamin Black series, which Banville first wrote under a pen name, before reverting to his own. I had read April in Spain (the previous one, published in 2021), but his most recent one is more successful in my opinion. For lovers of detective stories seasoned with the best Banville has to offer. 

As for Deborah Levy's book, What I don't want to know 2018 (borrowed from Nelson's library, now 70% open!), it is the first volume of an autobiographical trilogy by the author from South Africa living in Britain since the age of nine. She wrote this book to answer the question about why she writes. It was during a trip to Mallorca that she seems to have found the answer to this question. As soon as she arrived, she started remembering her childhood in South Africa, her father imprisoned for three years because he supported the ANC, which forced the family to emigrate to Britain when he was released from prison, after he was no longer able work. I appreciated her beautiful writing more inspiring when she leaves the facts behind, and found the beginning and the end  particularly powerful. I still want to read the following two books of the trilogy and maybe some of her fiction as well. The following sentence touched me deeply: "The way we are wired to kill. Ourselves”. 

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.

What I’ve read : Karl Ove Knausgaard : A death in the family

Nelson, winter 2021, Sylvie GE

A new author, about whom some claim that he is the discovery of the 21st  century: Karl Ove  Knausgaard, from Norway, best known for « My Struggle » (a title inspired by « Mein Kampf », that  seems  unrelated to the German publication (but so far I have only read two of the six volumes under this title)  ). I do not know what aroused my curiosity for this author, who recounted in six volumes his daily  and inner life from all angles, but there we are.  He had previously published other  titles very well received by the critics, crowned with  various awards, but it was « My Struggle » that made him known worldwide. In principle,   what I thought was a kind of autofiction with narcissistic flavors would not appeal to me. And yet. I first read « Spring », which is I believe its penultimate title, when I did not know where to start  (it  seemed more logical to me, but I had  to start with « A death in the family », which recounts, unsurprisingly, the death of his father, but also his adolescence in a very detailed way)  .  In this book, he recounts  insignificant details or important moments, which makes some passages boring  (I don’t always have the patience to read them all). The publisher presents it  as « an emotional journey of absolute fidelity », a very accurate description, in my opinion, of the author’s adolescence with an exceptional memory. He remembers   colors, flavors, moments, noises with an accuracy that leaves me speechless and that I would probably not be able to reproduce. Beyond this literary detail,  and even if some moments are long, I am not sure I can put my finger on the precise reason for  what  touches me so deeply. Perhaps it is his total fidelity to his memories, without any complacency  and hi   honesty. I find  in him no desire to present himself in a favorable light, to autofiction in order to glorify himself or complain, as is often the case in this kind of work. I’ve read a few reviews where it’s mentioned that you hate it or love it, I can imagine both reactions quite easily. As for the author himself, he confessed  that he began to write what would become a monumental work, when he had difficulty writing, that he first did it to grasp the present moment, what was happening in his head, and that he   had no intention of publishing what he wrote, which I find easy to  believe  given what he projects in the eyes of the readers,   a quite ordinary human being  struggling with   a world  he does not always understand. Elsewhere, he confesses that he is  a shameful individual, from whom he tried to free himself by recounting what he considered shameful. It is, I think,  another sign that literature, as well as poetry (which I explore in a very humble way here) is always in movement, always changing, this is such a mysterious and fascinating process at the same time. His family and friends  also appear  in his books and they  do not necessarily appreciate what he has to say about them. It  has led of course  to the questioning  of  his version of the facts  and confirms that any event is experienced in a unique way. He must also live with what he has honestly admitted,  and the possibility that his children will one day read his books (not particularly pleasing). So,  maybe to read or not, it really depends on what you are looking for in a book. As for me, I intend to continue reading  and discover more about him. Will I be able to go to volume 6 or not? To be continued.