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text 2017-10-27 17:33
Old Filth
Ein untadeliger Mann: Roman - Isabel Bogdan,Jane Gardam

Dieses Buch hat jetzt schon eine ganze Weile in meinem Regal rumgestanden und mich angestarrt. Zusammen mit seinen zwei Geschwistern, aber vorher lese ich glaube ich erst mal was erheiterndes. 

Schade, dass der Wortwitz des Titels es nicht ins Deutsche geschafft hat. Obwohl "Ein untadeliger Mann" auch nicht die schlechteste Wahl ist. Allerdings sitze ich jetzt hier und denke mir: "Hm". Ich habe das Gefühl, ich müsste das ganze Buch nochmal von vorne lesen. Die Geschichte vom alten Eddie springt sowohl örtlich als auch zeitlich und eröffnet sich dem Leser nach und nach, alldieweil man nichts gutes ahnt. Die Auflösung am Ende ist dann eigentlich unwichtig. Irgendwie bin ich unzufrieden. In dieser Geschichte spielt so viel Enttäuschung seitens des Protagonisten mit (mein Eindruck, ich weiß nicht ob Enttäuschung das richtige Wort ist), aber dem Leser wird nie genau erklärt, woher diese eigentlich kommt, abgesehen vom Klassiker: Die Kindheit. Oder es liegt an der Passivität Eddies? Zu viele Charaktere und Erlebnisse werden angeschnitten, aber zu den meisten Beziehungen zu den andere Personen würde mir jetzt nicht viel einfallen. Ich glaube Eddie auch nicht ;)

 

Sehr gut geschrieben, ich habe das Buch gerne gelesen. Jetzt muss ich nur noch ein bisschen drüber nachdenken.

 

Buch für den Dezember? o.O

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review 2017-10-03 17:24
"Autumn" by Ali Smith - shortlisted for 2017 Mann Booker Prize
Autumn: A Novel - Ali Smith

Set in 2016 Post-Brexit vote Britain, "Autumn" revolves around the experiences of a young art historian and the old man who helped her learn to see and think when she was a child. The story moves up and down the timeline of both their lives and flips from strange, presumably allegorical, dream sequences, through discussions of art and imagination and freedom through to hyper-real depictions of the modern life.

 


The opening chapter is an allegorical dream sequence that screams the literary equivalent of college band concept album and was almost enough to make me stop reading, yet the next chapter got my complete attention.with a sequence about going into to use the “Quick Check” passport service in the ruined post offices our governments have created as they've pillaged public assets. Ali Smith makes this familiar activity fresh by a muted rage that clings to irony and comic observation as it hangs above the pit of despair that life in a totalitarian state produces.

 


"Autumn" is a book you have to engage with rather than glide through. It's a conversation with the reader rather than an entertainment. For the most part, it was a conversation that I took a lot of pleasure in but there were some parts, dream sequences, long lists of how Brexit split the nation, where I felt as if I wandered into the "Time Passes" section of "To The Lighthouse": I knew I was reading something bold and innovative but it didn't really engage me.

 

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"Autumn" made me re-examine what I thought I knew about the allegedly swinging sixties in England. I was four in 1960 and I realised it's a period that I've never really examined from an adult point of view. I grew up being aware of things referred to in "Autumn" like Christine Keeler and the Profumo Affair,  and (at the time) risqué movies like "Alfie" but had no real understanding of them. They were too recent and too long ago.

 ]1939"It's A Man's World" by Pauline Boty[/caption]

I came to British Pop Art much later, so I thought I'd be on firmer ground but I was completely unaware of the work of Pauline Boty, who features heavily in the book and who Ali Smith examined in a piece in the Guardian.  Seeing pop art through the eyes of Ali Smith's characters made me hungry for it, even though most of it normally slides past me.

 

This is a book of big themes and real people. It explores the relationship between memory and imagination and how they compete and cooperate to construct and sustain the story of our lives that we tell to ourselves and others. It’s about seeing past the obvious to the real. It’s about a bloody-minded refusal to give in to all the people and institutions that try to make us live smaller lives. It's about borders and crossing them or being kept out. It’s about triumphing by finding a way to express joy.


This was my first Ali Smith book. It wasn’t always an easy experience but it was a memorable one. “Autumn” is the first of a four-novel seasonal sequence covering how the contemporaneous relates to the diachronic. I will be back for the rest.

 

The first link below is an extract from the audiobook. The second link is Ali Smith talking about "Autumn" to the TLS:

 

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review 2017-09-16 23:14
Political Gridlock
It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the Politics of Extremism - Norman J. Ornstein,Thomas E. Mann

I listened to the audio book and it is below okay.  The book really is not objective and attempts to lay the blame for the current dis-function of Washington squarely and solely with the Republican Party.  

 

The Republican's had nothing to do with "We just need to pass the bill then we will figure out what is in the bill" referencing the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

 

Both parties are to blame.

 

I cannot recommend this book.

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review 2017-08-25 22:34
"Reservoir 13" by Jon McGregor - on 2017 Mann Booker Longlist
Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

I found "Reservoir 13" hard to engage with at first. This partly the (I suspect, deliberate) frustration of my expectations and partly the style in which the people and events are presented.

 

The blurb says

"Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family's loss."

The book opens with a search across the hills of an English National Park, for a teenage girl who has gone missing. My genre-led expectations kicked in and I settled down to a book about crime and guilt and secrets in a small village, with the mystery solved in a few weeks, during which colourful local characters and traditions are scrutinised and set aside as the villain is uncovered.  I knew that the book was on the Mann Booker Longlist, so I was expecting some trope twisting but I wasn't expecting something that rejects every convention of a crime novel.

 

I quickly amended my view of what the book was about but still found it difficult to care about because the story is told in an authorial voice that reports what little dialogue there is, rather than using direct speech and describes people and events with all the passion of an academic wildlife study.

 

I felt that I was being given a pencil sketch sprinkled with small details highlighted in colour for reasons that weren't immediately clear to me. 

 

I recognised that I was being shown the rhythm of rural village life where people's lives are governed by the seasons, personal routines and the politenesses required by long-term propinquity but the rhythms did not provide a narrative thrust.

 

I felt locked out of the inner thoughts or emotions of the people. The authorial voice seemed to have all the intimacy of a camera drone filming a landscape:  all-seeing but from an alien non-human perspective.

 

About a third of the way through, I finally surrendered myself to the rhythm of the book and let it carry me along.  It reminded me of the adjustment in pace that I had to make when I moved to a village in Somerset after living for years in London. I had to slow down to see the place. I had to let it absorb me before I could be part of it.

 

"Reservoir 13" shows how life is lived in a village. As thirteen years worth of seasons passed, I was given a surface view of all the things that people in a small village know about each other: the gossip, the constant observation of each others acts and the things they don't say or don't ask. I cam to understand how the politeness of being indirect grants dignity and privacy while still offering the possibility of sharing the things you cannot bear alone.

 

Initially, direct speech was less frequent than descriptions of wildlife or weather but, as the years passed and the context had been established, I was allowed to hear certain conversations and evesdrop on interior monologues.

 

The people in the village are following the same tidal flows as the wildlife around them and, just as Il earned about the courtship of badgers in the woods, I was shown that most human mating rituals are led by women and conducted through body language and eye contact more than words.

 

Some characters found their way into my affections: the vicar, carrying around everyone's cares and confidences, like heavy stones in her pockets, who brings comfort and compassion wherever she goes; the woman who walks her neighbour's dog every day but still treats each time as if it were something new.

 

The missing girl is not the centre of the book but rather something that distorts the flow of village life without adding to it, She is like a water-logged piece of driftwood that only occasionally surfaces but is always there, disturbing the peace of the water.

 

She has her own leitmotiv that often marks her appearance

 

 "The girl's name was Rebecca or Becky or Beks. She had been looked for and she hadn't been found."

 

She is a constant reminder of the possibility of loss and perhaps and incentive to hold on to those we love for as long as we can.

 

"Reservoir 13" has a distinct voice and an unusual structure that did, eventually, imprint the village on my imagination and made me reluctant to leave. The narrative doesn't thrust, it shapes your perception of people and events with gentle persistence, like a stream eroding one bank and building up another.
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text 2017-08-20 09:35
"Reservoir 13" by Jon McGregor - on 2017 Mann Booker Longlist - this is not going well
Reservoir 13: A Novel - Jon McGregor

From the description this sounds like a crime book - teenage girl goes missing on the hills above a small village - doubt - suspicion - secrets - yet it's on the Mann Book Longlist so I was expecting something with a twist.

 

I wasn't expcting something so difficult to engage with.

 

The story is told in an authorial voice that reports what little diaglogue there is rather than using direct speech.  The narration is a dispassionate description of events with all the passion of a more academic wildlife study.

 

This is mostly a pencil sketch sprinkled with small details highlighted in colour for no apparent reason.

 

There is a  focus on time passing and routines like seasons governing people's lives that gives the book a pleasant rhythm without providing any narrative thrust.

 

No access to the inner thoughts or emotions of the people. It has all the intimacy of a

camera drone filming a landscape:  all-seeing but from an alien non-human perspective.

 

I suspect the author is trying to do something new with form and that I should be delighted that he is eschewing the conventions of the genre. Instead, at more than an hour in to and eight hour book, I am still wondering what will make this book worth reading.

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