RSS

Author Archives: wildnightin

About wildnightin

An only child whose friends lived at least an hour away, I had crazy nights in sitting on the worn red futon by the fire, feasting my eyes and ears on fiction, foreign languages and films. This blog is a way to meet and talk to people who like reading, watching films or foreign languages.

{Review} On Tangled Paths – Theodor Fontane

{Review} On Tangled Paths – Theodor Fontane

Review
First published in 1887, Irrungen, Wirrungen tells the story of two lovers who are doomed to never spend their lives together despite wanting to.

Although the theme was hardly a new one, even to contemporary readers, the way the story unfolds is beautiful-  Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 9, 2016 in 2016 Reading Challenge

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

{Review} A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland – Moran

Review
Every now and again, there is a book that fills one with so much rage it is almost impossible to finish.

This was that book. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2016 in 2016 Reading Challenge

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

{Review} Reykjavík Nights: Murder in Reykjavík – Arnaldur Indriðason

The week before last we had something of an Indian Summer. As the mercury hit the mid-20s for the 3rd day in a row I picked up this book: the title evoking endless nights and mankind’s darker side. Did it live up to expectations? Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 24, 2016 in 2016 Reading Challenge

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

{Review} The Owl Service – Alan Garner

{Review} The Owl Service – Alan Garner

Summary
Owls. That was the pattern formed by the plates hidden upstairs. But these owls vanished when they were copied onto paper. With each owl that fades from the page, another layer of magic is awoken, forming a net that encloses the valley. As the web tightens, will Alison, Roger and Gwyn be able to free themselves, or are they the latest three in the valley’s history to be forced to relive it? Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2016 European Reading Challenge – Introduction

Hello there, blogosphere!

I’ve been bumbling around the book shelves without any feeling of purpose over the last few years. Sad, I know. As a result, I haven’t read as widely as in the past and you know what?

It is time for that to change! Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2016 in 2016 Reading Challenge

 

Tags: , , , ,

{Review} The Celtic Ring – Björn Larsson

One of the main reasons I proof read on www.pgdp.net is so that I can pick up inklings about what it was like to live at the time when the novel was written. It’s exciting to find out about issues and PoVs contemporary to the author or story. But I spend so much time flicking through these older books that I often forget just how different the world was even a few years ago.

The Celtic Ring took me back to 1990 (24 years ago! 24!! The Berlin Wall had come down a few months before that!) with a little bump. My goodness how times have changed! Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2014 in 2014 Reading Challenges, Books

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

{Review} A Matter of Death and Life – Andrey Kurkov

Read for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge 2014 (Ukraine)

I meant to read ‘out’ from the UK, slowly reading my way across countries until I ended up poised on the edge of Europe, about to step out into Asia. So obviously I went in search of a copy of the Ukranian, A Matter of Death and Life in the local library and decided to give Kurkov another try after the slight misunderstanding we had back in May 2013.

Due to the political situation in Ukraine, I’ve been doing my best not only to keep abreast of developments in the region but also trying to get to know a little more about the nation in the 20th century. As such, I felt better-placed to understand a little more of Kurkov’s famous satire.

Blurb
Tolya, our main character, begins the novel with a despondent, self-destructive attitude to life. No-one cares about him while he’s alive but he’s realised that if he dies in tragic, mysterious circumstances then people will remember him. He’ll seem ‘interesting’ and be talked about in his absence. By cutting short his life, his memory will live on far longer than he could ever hope to.

The problems start after he hires an assassin to bump him off in a rather prominent café. With so little time left, Tolya starts to value all the things he had previously looked forward to avoiding in the next life.

But he cannot call off his killer or his date with death…

Review
Whether fleetingly or seriously, I’m certain most of us have considered suicide at some point. Kurkov takes this to the next tragicomic level with ease.

As in Death and the Penguin, Kurkov hints at links between death (especially the being-bumped-off variety) and various prominent political figures. He writes about the ‘everything that can be bought’ mentality with a matter of factness that boggles the mind. I’m still not entirely sure as to what to make of those parts of his commentary on contemporary post-Soviet society but it’s interesting to note that they’re some of the main themes that Kurkov explores in his work.

Is this observational satire or critique? Is it a little of both? Think I’m going to have to read some more Kurkov before I can answer that one satisfactorily.

The ending of this story was far more satisfying than that of Death and the Penguin as Tolya’s actions felt more in character and there wasn’t the same degree of bitterness mixed in with the sweetness of the conclusion.

Note on the translation: George Bird’s translation feels direct and sometimes as though there’s more that’s lingering between the lines than in them. I put this down to Kurkov’s ‘between the lines’ sort of satire.

It’s a really good translation though- it puts me in mind of the pictures of post-Soviet Ukraine I saw in a gallery once.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure if that’s a little rude of me to imply that post-Soviet Ukraine’s a little grey around the edges… :/

Overall
Either I was better prepared for Kurkov’s satire, or A Matter of Death and Life is a little better (or both?).

Whichever way, this was a pleasure to read and I’m looking forward to improving my knowledge of Ukrainian politics and society before reading the next of his stories.

I’m not sure that his social and political satire are the sharpest I’ve ever come across but he’s still very good and this novel’s more than worth the 100 minutes or so it takes to blaze through it.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: