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url 2020-09-10 08:43
Malta Today 9th Sept 2020 Interview with Nataša Pantović about Novels Ama and Tree of Life Lifestyle Questionnaire
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Nataša Pantović: ‘I meditate in an attempt to recall my dreams’ Maltese-Serbian novelist Nataša Pantović tells all in our Q&A 9 September 2020, 8:00am by Laura Calleja

Malta Today Interview with Nataša Pantović Life Style Questionnaire

Nataša Pantović is a Maltese-Serbian novelist, management consultant, adoptive parent, and ‘ancient worlds explorer’ based in Malta. Ama: Playing the Glass Bead Game with Pythagoras and other books by Pantović are published by Artof4Elements can be purchased on Amazon.

 

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Meditate in an attempt to recall my dreams. A dream diary is the most beautiful technique I’ve learned from Jung – he understood dreams to be messages from the unconscious, and through his own self-analysis, containing imagery that illustrates our internal soul “messaging” system.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

 

My dad, who had a PhD in law, used to discuss ancient philosophers with me, introducing me to Aristotle’s ‘eudaimonia’ - the “long-term happiness” that achieved throughout a lifetime when human beings achieve health, wealth, knowledge, friends and this in turn leads to the perfection of human nature... What do you never leave the house without? A book or a note-book...

 

 

Pick three words that describe yourself “Arche”, “Logos”, and “Harmonia”.

 

 

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? I could morph into a dolphin…

 

 

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Reading the Babylon stories written in 2,500 BC. Researching Ancient Greek, Chinese and Egyptian characters or Akkadian that symbolically narrate the stories of advanced civilizations of 2,500 BC. Discovering “real” history or how I call it “playing the glass bead game with Pythagoras”.

 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? I “jumped” into the role of parenting, adopting as a single mother, two instead of one kid (as originally planned) even though I had no husband to support me within this journey. The madness of my little “mission” left me at home, babysitting and writing books, one after the other, since my creative flow kept overpowering me. Life is FLOW!

 

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

 

Leonardo da Vinci’s A3 size Complete Book of Art. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger? Music, one thing I did not get as a gift from my parents. Perhaps I will be reborn as a musician.

 

Who’s your inspiration? Giordano Bruno, Herman Hesse, and Tolstoy.

 

What has been your biggest challenge? Original thinking. Any author’s dream is to be able to play the audience like a conductor does an orchestra. Take it onto a journey.

 

If you weren’t an ‘Ancient Worlds Consciousness Researcher’ what would you be doing?

 

I have already hugged a 3,000-years-old Maori tree in New Zealand and crossed the Savanah on foot and slept in the deserts of Africa, and climbed the hills of Nepal, danced barefoot under starry nights… so not researching, assuming the kids are no longer in need of my support, would probably take me back to exploring Serbian hills...

 

Do you believe in God? As a dynamic, Orphic, hermaphrodite Universe of Consciousness, Yin and Yang manifestations... then yes.

 

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be? The full cast of Ama, my fiction book: the bat, who is also a story-teller, Pythagoras, who I (as a writer) meet jumping through a universal consciousness portal, Ama, the Kenyan goddess who meets the philosophers in her coffee house, Father Benedict, an Orthodox priest, her father Ottavio who is an alchemist… wow, what a party!

 

What’s your worst habit?

 

Never ending my stories. I was re-writing A-Ma for long 10 years. The issue of white supremacy, the institutional racism, female vs. male conflict, the East vs. West struggle, the Yin vs. Yang or Dogs vs. Cats, it is a story repeated over and over again. If you are a reader, you probably get one masterpiece a year, a book that is a must read, and as an educated audience, you are deeply grateful to be holding this type of a book in your hands, but it still does not change your life. How many books have changed your life? Will a book be read in 30 years? Will my book be read in 30 years?

 

What are you like when you’re drunk?

 

I have never ever been drunk. Can you believe this? I also do not take any medication...

 

Who would you have play you in a film?

 

I wouldn’t have me “played” in a film. But I would have my daughter play Ama...

 

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

 

Conscious and sub-conscious abuse of one’s own body or mind or emotions... I feel deep sorrow when people abuse the gift of life.

 

What music would you have played at your funeral? Jamming jazz by all participants.

 

What is your most treasured material possession? Tobby, my cat, even though she “owns” us, not the other way round.

 

What is your earliest memory? Taking a teddy bear to the hospital in Belgrade, Serbia, that was closed for visits, to my sister who was operated and was gone from my life, for more than three months. I recall, at the age of 3, running under the nursing sister’s legs to give her the bear.

 

When did you last cry, and why? I cry at all times. My friend Karl Pace has just died of burning injuries, his boat set on fire...

 

Who would you most like to meet? Quentin Tarantino.

 

What’s your favorite food? As a vegetarian, a veggie meal from Krishna or a mix of forest berries from Serbia.

 

Who’s your favorite person on social media right now? I’m old-school. I read the newspaper. I still watch movies in the cinema, I buy the front row tickets. When I write a poem, or a story, I do not do it on a computer… all these handsome actors trying to act tortured, trying to look miserable. The life that is not real, does not appeal to me. So, no social media for me. Thanks, but no thanks...

 

If you could travel in time, where would you go? Ancient Malta’s Temple culture, and the time of Serbian Vinca so that I could compare the two.

 

What book are you reading right now? Babylonian Life and History by Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge (1884). Together with Lingua Maltese Studio Storico Etnografico e Filolgico by Caruana, published in 1896 in Italian. The latter, I have had the honour of holding it in my hands.

 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Travel through time.

 

What’s one thing you want to do before you die? Spend two months in Peru.

 

What music are you listening to at the moment? A soundtrack from Emir Kusturica’s film “Arizona Dream” by Goran Bregovic.

 

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to? Mantras of all religions like Kirya Si, Shiva Shakti, Halleluya, AuM allaH, my kids hate me for it... the neighbours are convinced that I am a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Hindu, or a Christian in a dire need of some psychiatric help. Sometimes the kids, passers-by or dogs sing with me.

Source: www.maltatoday.com.mt/lifestyle/question_and_answer/104592/natasa_pantovic_meditate_in_an_attempt_to_recall_my_dreams
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review 2019-04-24 07:00
Der indische König Lear
Wir, die wir jung sind - Preti Taneja

Devraj ist der Gründer und Chef eines mächtigen indischen Mischkonzerns, der von allen nur „The Company“ genannt wird. Ebenso wie Ranjit Singh, seine rechte Hand, ist er eine bekannte Persönlichkeit im Land. Doch nun ist Devraj alt und es wird Zeit, das Erbe zu verteilen. Nur wie? Neben seinen eigenen drei Töchtern gilt es auch, die zwei Söhne von Ranjit zu bedenken. Als Sita, die jüngste Töchter, sich dem Willen ihres Vaters widersetzt, entbrennt ein Machtkampf, in den auch Ranjits unehelicher Sohn Jivan hineingezogen wird. Wer wird sich dabei durchsetzen?

„Wir, die wir jung sind“ ist ein Familienepos und der Debütroman von Preti Taneja.

Meine Meinung:
Der Roman besteht aus sechs Teilen, die wiederum in Kapitel ganz unterschiedlicher Länge untergliedert sind. Erzählt wird einerseits aus der Sicht von Devraj in der Ich-Perspektive und andererseits im Wechsel aus der Sicht unterschiedlicher Personen wie Jivan, Gargi und Jeet. Dieser Aufbau funktioniert gut.

Der Schreibstil ist ungewöhnlich. Sprachbilder, Vergleiche und Beschreibungen konnten mich begeistern. Allerdings erfordert dieser Stil beim Lesen einiges an Aufmerksamkeit – zumal immer mal wieder fremde Namen und Ausdrücke auftauchen. Daher dauerte es etwas, bis ich in der Geschichte angekommen war.

Die Protagonisten wirken durchweg realitätsnah und vielschichtig. Obwohl ich längst nicht für alle Charaktere Sympathie hegen kann, habe ich ihre Gedanken- und Gefühlswelt gerne verfolgt.

Die Handlung ist, was bei der recht hohen Seitenzahl nicht verwundert, zum Teil leider ein wenig ereignisarm und daher stellenweise langatmig. Es sind aber auch spannende Passagen vorhanden. Was die angesprochenen Themen angeht, hat die Geschichte außerdem so einiges zu bieten: Es geht um Macht, um Verrat und den Willen zu überleben.

Bei dem Roman handelt es sich um eine Adaption von William Shakespeares Tragödie „König Lear“, die – bezüglich ihrer Form und Sprache – ins Indien des 21. Jahrhunderts verlegt wurde. Eine schöne Idee. Doch die Geschichte ist nicht nur angelehnt an das Stück des bekannten Briten, sondern es gibt auch  weitere literarische Bezüge und Anklänge an andere Autoren wie beispielsweise Virginia Woolf.

Hilfreich beim Verständnis ist ein Glossar, das viele, aber nicht alle erwähnten Hindi-Ausdrücke erklärt. Interessant ist außerdem das Nachwort der deutschen Übersetzerin.

Der sehr bewusst gewählte englischsprachige Originaltitel „We that are young“ wurde ins Deutsche übertragen, was ich gut finde. Das Motiv des Covers wurde dagegen nicht übernommen. Ich muss jedoch gestehen, dass mir die farbprächtige deutsche Version mehr zusagt.

Mein Fazit:
„Wir, die wir jung sind“ von Preti Taneja ist keine einfache, aber eine besondere und lohnenswerte Lektüre. Der Roman eignet sich vor allem für diejenigen, die gerne ein Familienepos der etwas anderen Art lesen möchten.

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review 2019-02-25 19:49
Recommended to those who love horror, psychology, historical police procedurals and a different take on serial killers.
The Devil Aspect - P. Craig Russell

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little Brown Book Group UK, for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely and with some trepidation chose to review.

There is much to talk about in this book (yes, I enjoyed it, if you want the short of it. Yes, it is eerie, gothic, can be scary at times, it is full of evil deeds, some not apt for the fainthearted, and full of atmosphere), and it would also be easy to fall into revealing spoilers, so I will try to talk in general terms and will keep some of the thoughts that went through my head as I read it to myself.

Rather than trying to summarise the plot, as I have already included two versions of the blurb, I thought I’d use the author’s own words (and I recommend you to read the author’s note at the end. I suspect it will keep me thinking about this book for as long as the book itself will):

The main engines that drive the story are Jungian psychology, Central European myths and legends, the history of Czechoslovakia immediately before the Second World War and the ethnic tensions that existed within the country at that time.

This is 1939, and the author is great at bringing to life the atmosphere in Czechoslovakia at the time, the politics and the strained relationships between the different parts of the population, the ethnic minorities, the Germans, Sudeten, the Jewish inhabitants, the criminal underworld, and the increasing atmosphere of threat and impending doom and evil. He also uses the locations, both in the city, the forests, and the castle, to great effect, to the point where they almost become protagonists in their own right. I can’t say I’m familiar with any of the locations of the story despite a visit to Prague many years back, although there are some, like the Bone Church (the Sedlec Ossuary) that have intrigued me for many years, and I am sure I’m not the only one who shares in the fascination.

 

Having worked as a forensic psychiatrist, I could not resist the idea of reading a book set in what would have been a forensic unit of the time. And what a setting! A castle that according to legend was built to keep closed the entry to hell and that now houses the six most dangerous insane criminals of all central Europe. Both, the director of the hospital and the new doctor we meet on his way to take up his new appointment, Viktor, (no, you won’t make me tell you what happened to the previous psychiatrist in the post, don’t insist) have interesting theories to explain the madness of their patients (one akin to a contagion, like that caused by a virus, the other a similar concept to that explored and exploited often in movies and films, but in this case referring to a specific aspect of one’s personality, the so-called “Devil Aspect” of the title, rather than to multiple personalities), and the book goes into a fairly detailed explanation and exploration of those theories, including allowing us to witness the doctor’s sessions using narcotics (a very dangerous technique, I must say). I found these part of the book as fascinating, if not more, as the other part that seemed to be the more active and  thrilling part of it, but I am aware that there is a lot of telling (because each one of the six devils gets a chance to tell their story), and although they help give a global picture of the nature of the evil the book refers to, not all of them seem to be directly related to the plot of the book, so guess that some readers will not feel the same as I do about those sessions.

The second part of the action, which takes place in parallel, consists of the investigation of a series of crimes in Prague, committed by a murderer, Leather Apron, who seems intent on imitating Jack the Ripper, and we follow the efforts of a police investigator Lukas Smolàk, trying to catch him. This part of the book is more akin to a police procedural of the time and is well done. It feels like a noir detective novel, only set within a gothic nightmarish background, not so dissimilar to the Victorian Ripper original. The clues are gruesome and so are the murders, and every time they seem closer to solving the crimes, something new comes to light and confuses matters. While to begin with Lukas appears to be the example of a seasoned detective who has seen everything and is wary of events in society at large, later the murders start to affect him more personally, and he becomes increasingly unravelled by the events, which humanises him and makes him easier to connect with.  

The story is told in the third person but from each one of those characters’ points of view, with some brief intrusions from other characters’ insights, like one of the victims, or Judita, who is a bit more than a friend of Viktor and also works at the hospital. This works well to give us a better understanding and makes empathise, and also suffer with them, in some cases. Personally, I really liked Judita, who has to face prejudice and has overcome her own mental health difficulties, and also Lukas, who shares with Viktor the determination to find the truth, and the analytical mind. I was intrigued by Viktor, not only because he is a psychiatrist, but because we learn from early on that he has survived a pretty difficult childhood and has had to cope with trauma. But his single-mindedness and his pursuit of his theory, sometimes despite the evident risks, not only to himself but to others, give him a tinge of the mad scientist, and I found him more interesting as a subject of observation than as somebody I felt connected to.

The Central and Eastern European mythology and the Jungian psychology theme add a further layer of complexity and work well in helping bring more uncertainty, menace, and confusion to the proceedings. There are dark corners and many secrets hidden by most of the protagonists; there are clues and warnings aplenty, red herrings, twists and turns, and although readers of the horror and the psychological thriller genres might have their suspicions and a variety of theories as to what is going on, a bit like the layers of the personality Viktor tries to reach, the narration also pulls us deeper and deeper into the darkness, the plot, and the castle, which is a physical stand-in for the deepest recesses of the human mind and also of human history.

I don’t want to bore you with my psychiatric insights, but I can say that although I’m not an expert in the history of psychiatry in Central Europe, the procedures followed in the castle, the way the place functions and the patient histories did not require a great suspension of disbelief. (Yes, I have known patients who have experienced a fugue-like state. No, I’ve never met anybody with multiple personalities or dissociative identity disorder, and I don’t think it is a common diagnosis in the UK, but…)

I enjoyed the style of writing, full of vivid imagery and very atmospheric, which makes us see what is happening in our minds (sometimes even when we’d rather not), and felt the rhythm worked well, combining the investigation, that felt more pressing and hurried, with what was happening at the castle, that at least, to begin with, was more contemplative and serene. The closer we come to the end, the more the rhythm accelerates and both strands of the story come together. As I said, there is a twist, or even more than one, in the end, and I think this book has everything to recommend it to readers of the genre who also enjoy a gothic setting and are eager to explore new mythologies regarding good an evil. This is not a book I’d recommend to those who don’t enjoy horror and reading about violent crimes. And it is not a book for those who prefer books fast and full of action, but it pays to stick with it, and if you’re interested in psychiatry and are looking for a different twist on the serial killer subject, I thoroughly recommended.

I am not surprised film production companies are looking at buying this book. This could become a fascinating movie.

 

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review 2018-07-20 09:50
Mexikanisches Familienpuzzle
Denn sie sterben jung: Stories - Antonio Ruiz-Camacho,Johann Christoph Maass

Dieser Roman von Antonio Ruiz-Camacho besteht aus einer Reihe von Kurzgeschichten einer Familie, die am Ende zu einer großen Einheit und einem Gesamtbild – quasi einer Familienchronik – zusammengesetzt werden sollten. Normalerweise bin ich ja eine denkbar schlechte Rezensentin für Short-Stories, da ich viel zu sehr auf Figurenentwicklung und Plotgestaltung achte und für mich deshalb auf so wenigen Seiten meist einfach zu wenig Raum bleibt, um meine Anforderungen an eine gute Geschichte zu erfüllen. Dieses eher ungewöhnliche Stilmittel hat mich dann aber dennoch sehr interessiert und herausgefordert, zumal mir der ähnlich gestrickte Roman Ruhm von Daniel Kehlmann bereits vor Jahren sehr gut gefallen hat.

 

In wirklich sehr kurzen Geschichten wird ein Abriss von Figuren der Familie Artega sehr grob skizziert, die in der gesamten Welt verstreut leben. Wie bei den meisten lateinamerikanischen Familien üblich, führen Kinderreichtum, Namensgleichheiten von Vater und Sohn, uneheliche Kinder und viele Domestiken in den einzelnen Haushalten zu extrem viel Personal im Roman und ordentlicher Verwirrung. Dem sind der Autor oder der Verlag oder beide gemeinsam sehr genial mit einem übersichtlich strukturierten Familienstammbaum zu Beginn des Buches entgegengetreten, in dem nicht nur alle Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse, sondern auch das Hauspersonal namentlich angeführt sind und zudem auch die Nummer der Kurzgeschichte, in der alle Figuren auftreten.

 

Nach und nach erfährt die Leser*in, indem er/sie immer wieder das Organigramm studiert, was wirklich passiert ist: das Familienoberhaupt José Victoriano Artega wurde entführt und in kleinen Paketen in Einzelteilen der Familie per Boten zugestellt. Ob dieser Bedrohung verlassen alle Verwandten das Land und stieben gleich einem Stern von Mexiko aus in viele Richtungen und Kontinente. Die Kurzgeschichten geben Auskunft, wie die einzelnen Familienmitglieder mit der Tragödie umgehen. Dabei entstehen durchaus auch spannende kuriose Einzelschicksale und Geschichten wie die Story von einem Bären, der sich beim von der Polizei abgesperrten McDonalds an den Muffins gütlich tut, während sich die ehemaligen Hausangestellten, die nun illegal im Lande sind, vor Angst wegen der amtshandelnden Behörden fast in die Hose machen. Oder die Ehefrau Laura, die sich in der Diaspora aus Langeweile in einem Waschsalon einen jungen Mann aufreißt, mit dem sie den ultimativen sexuellen Kick durch eine Fahrt im Wäschetrockner erlebt.

 

Abseits der etwas kuriosen Einzelgeschichten erinnert die Rezeption des gesamten Plots – also die Chronik der gesamten Familie Artega seit der Entführung des Familienoberhauptes Don Victoriano – an ein kniffliges Puzzle, das auf Grund des eingangs erwähnten Organigramms doch recht leicht zusammenzusetzen ist. Mir hat es wirklich viel Spaß bereitet, dieses Bild Stück für Stück zu montieren. Aber ergibt das Puzzle ein schönes detailreiches Gesamtbild? Oder hat es zu viel unstrukturierten flachen blauen Himmel? Das ist hier die Frage, die sich jeder selbst für die eigene Rezeption des Romans beantworten muss.

 

Für mich waren die Einzelfiguren um eine Nuance zu farb- und substanzlos, vor allem auch, weil ich eigentlich viel zu wenige Geschichten über die Familienmitglieder gelesen habe, sehr viele Figuren fehlten völlig. Vielleicht hätten mehr beschriebene Protagonisten in einem längeren und dickeren Buch dieses Familiengeflecht für mich viel dichter, greifbarer und substantieller erscheinen lassen. Da war mir der Autor bei der Konzeption des großen Ganzen einfach ein bisschen zu minimalistisch beim Erzählen, zumal die Gschichtln ja auch sprachlich gut fabuliert sind, vor innovativen Ideen strotzen und wirklich viel Freude machen. In diesem Fall hätte ich einfach gerne noch mehr erfahren.

 

Fazit: Wer das Stilmittel zusammengesetzter Kurzgeschichten zu einem Roman und die Erfahrung des Navigierens durch den Familienstammbaum gleich einem Spiel schätzt, wird seine helle Freude an dem Werk haben. Wer auf tiefe Figurenentwicklung Wert legt und nicht vor dem Autor den Hut ziehen kann, dass er mit einer derart minimalistischen Konstruktion die Familie, das Geschehen und die Verlorenheit der Diaspora nach der Katastrophe ausreichend gut beschreiben konnte, wird ein Haar in der Suppe finden. Mir ging es in beiden Rezeptionsmodellen gleichermaßen so wie beschrieben. Einerseits habe ich diesen minimalistischen Aufbau und den Stilgriff des Romans sehr bewundert, andererseits bin ich traurig, da ich einfach auf sorgfältige Figurenentwicklung Wert lege. Insgesamt auf jeden Fall ein sehr gut konzipiertes, lesenswertes Buch!

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text 2018-05-08 14:31
Erster Satz | Henry David Thoreau: Ktaadn
Ktaadn: Mit einem Essay von Ralph Waldo Emerson - Henry David Thoreau

Am 31. August 1846 fuhr ich mit Eisenbahn und Dampfboot von Concord, Massachusetts, nach Bangor und ins Hinterland von Maine, um einen im Holzhandel tätigen Verwandten bis zum Damm am westlichen Nebenfluss des Penobscot zu begleiten, wo er Land kaufen wollte.

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