Monday, February 29, 2016

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Bauman

“You couldn’t truly love anything if you didn’t hate at least something. Indeed, perhaps you couldn’t truly love anything if you didn’t hate almost everything.” 
― Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident

I chose this quote for a reason, for this is probably the most gruelling review I ever had to write. There is not a single good thing I can say about this book. I realise that this may sound slightly harsh and that probably my judgement is extremely subjective due to the amazing books that I have been reading lately, but The Teleportation Accident has disappointed me severely.
The writing is of acceptable level, but the characters... Don't get me wrong: I have had my share in remembering names of characters from books that involve over 50 of them, sometimes even I have made the attempt to re-read whole books so I can make sense and differentiate between them, but for this work I didn't have the energy. All of them were at best stodgy. Mind you I even managed to find the narrator's voice aggravating due to his pretentiousness. 
as I am sitting here struggling to write this review I am beginning to feel glad I borrowed this one from the library in stead of buying it for that would have been money wasted on bull crap! How it got published, let alone how people got to write praising reviews for it all over the web, is beyond my humble comprehension. 
Don't be too quick to stigmatize me as lover of easy and frivolous literature, for I read heavy works with easy, and love sophisticated language in fiction, but random over-use of dictionaries for the mere puspose of showing off vocabulary just won't do! IT SHALL NOT PASS!
Comparing The Teleportation Accident to all of Bauman's other works is just offensive to his talent. At best I can call it a misfit. 
Usually, I would try to give a resume of the book, but I fear that this one will bore you to death. The Teleportation Accident is the book equivelent of that annoying friend we all have that would just never stop blabbing about and whining about this and that.
I will not recommend this book to anyone, unless you are up for hours lost on not pointless conversations on not having sex.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson

As you know I studied English Literature in University, therefore it is not that hard to guess my love for all Shakespearean works. What you might not know is that I participated in an anniversary audio-visual play production of Love’s Labor’s Lost. That was a few years ago but I still cherish the memory with special fondness. It was a great experience which enabled me to build on my knowledge of Shakespeare’s works. My love for the themes discussed in his art stays with me till this very day and so with a blog at hand and a love for Shakespeare I decided why not get a taste of what the Hogarth series have to offer. I started my research online and stumbled across the new book from the series Shylock Is My Name.

Most of you, I guess will approach the book with trepidation, but leave your prejudice a side and give the book a chance to enter your heart, because it is funny, profound and very readable. I know, you are probably thinking how much you hated The Merchant of Venice, right? Well, fear not, my friends this book will not vex you in the same way… in fact, it will help you re-discover your love for it. I admit it took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with the narrator’s voice, but from then on it was pure love. I enjoyed the easiness with which Shylock speaks out his observations and opinions, but most of all I was mesmerized by the fact that finally I had found a book that is more about ideas, rather than actions. I miss that in modern fiction, so I cherish greatly every present I get. Shylock is My Name is a masterfully written and fascinating exploration of the inner and outer perception of Jewishness. One of my flat mates is a Jew; believe me I look at him differently after reading the book - in a good way. It is, after all, a great achievement to even attempt at re-writing a classic. Jacobson has done marvellously in doing so. A combination of the larger-than-life theatricality of life and profundity has managed to swirl under the almighty feather of the author, leaving the reader with an open mind to the next instalment in the series. What I loved most is the way the author followed the original only gently reminding of it, but keeping the depth and the shallowness at the exact same “places” and in the exact same quantity.

I would definitely recommend the book to all literature colleagues and friends of Shakespeare out there. If you are up for a philosophical read with a bit of humour that should be your choice from what is out there on the market. I promise, it will leave you stunned at the least. Thank you, , for giving me the opportunity to read this marvellous piece.

If you are very picky about what you read like me, you can find more information about the author at:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Paperback, 295 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Pocket (first published 1982)
Original Title: The Color Purple
ISBN: 0671727796 (ISBN13: 9780671727796)
Edition Language: English
Setting: Georgia, United States (United States) 
Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1983), National Book Award for Fiction (Hardcover) (1983), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee (1982)

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is one of the most powerful and controversial books of its time.
Published in 1982 and winner of The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the book is set in the 1930s and located deep in the American South.
The central character is Celie, a young black girl who has had to overcome a horrific youth, suffering abuse and rape from the man she calls ‘Pa’. Walker does not shy away from detailing this explicitly and part of the reason this is successful because Celie writes of her experiences in letters to God – the only person she is permitted to tell them too.
The plot unfold through the letters written from Celie, at first to God and then in correspondence between herself and her sister Nettie. Family is one of the central themes throughout the book and the cause of conflict and abuse.
Early in the book we learn how Celie has been raped by ‘Pa’ and forced to give up her two resulting children before she is fifteen. The loss of these two children is a constant regret for Celie but also appears to be one of the key aspects that drive her to remain strong even at the hands of violence from ‘Mr –‘.
‘Her and me and our two children. What they look like, I wonder. But it hard to think bout them. I feels shame. More than love, to tell the truth.’
Her marriage to ‘Mr–‘ is an escape from an abusive home but Celie always blames ‘Mr–‘ for Nettie’s disappearance. More than the violence from her husband it is this further loss of a sister and confidant that develops Celie’s hatred for him.
A turning point for Celie is her introduction to Shug Avery. To Celie, Shug seems to represent everything she aspires to and admires: she is independent and able to stand up to ‘Mr–‘, something that Celie is never able to do, seemingly a repetition as to how she was never able to stand up to ‘Pa’.
‘I won’t leave, she say, until I know Albert won’t even think about beating you.’
Much of the critical praise Walker received for ‘The Colour Purple’ was for her effective use of the language of the black characters. In Celie’s letters she also uses underdeveloped language consisting of phonetic spelling and grammatical errors such as:
‘He keep it locked up tight, but Shug cam git the key.’
This successfully emphasises Celie’s deprival of an education, especially when compared to the more skilled language used in Nettie’s letters.
The real appeal of the book is its portrayal of strong underprivileged women who are treat as second class, by white society because they are black and by the black men because they are women. Despite their difficulties and they abuse they suffer they overcome this and, in the case of Celie, even find it within themselves to be forgiving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich

Kindle, 236 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Picador (first published 1997)
Original Title: Чернобыльская молитва: Хроника будущего
ISBN: 0312425848 (ISBN13: 9780312425845)
Edition Language: English
setting: Prypiat (Ukraine), Chernobyl (Ukraine), Belarus
Literary Awards National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction (2005)

I don't know what I was thinking, starting to read this book. Voices From Chernobyl is a powerful work which deserves a broad readership. As well as being a unique exploration of the human effects of widespread radioactive contamination, it offers a view of the final years of the Soviet Union and of life in Byelorussia. It should certainly be read by those caught up in the recent revival of enthusiasm for nuclear power, if only so the possible consequences of accidents are clear.
I come from Eastern Europe. I was born right after the communist regime ended. My mum, dad and brother all remember the horror of Chernobyl and how everything was hushed by the government. My father survived cancer and radiation, barely... he lost a lot of his friend to cancer...
This was one of the hardest books to read... It took me so long to finish it because I was feeling the pain of the interviewees. At times I just had to stop, because my tears were blurring my vision. 
I will not say more about it. I will use a quote and let the people who decide to read it judge for themselves:

"We’re afraid to talk about it. We don’t know how. It’s not an ordinary experience, and the questions it raises are not ordinary.”

#chernobyl, #wecry #horror #interview #wakeupcall

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cummings

Kindle, 304 pages
Published: May 5th 2015 by Dey Street Books
Original Title: Not My Father's Son
ISBN: 0062225073 (ISBN13: 9780062225078)
Edition Language: English
Literary Awards: Audie Award for Autobiography/Memoir (2015), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Memoir & Autobiography (2014)

I have to admit, I am a massive fan of Alan Cummings and like most of his true fans I could sense that behind all of his joyfulness, purity and unearthly genius, there lurked a deep, troubled soul filled with sadness. What I didn't expect though was to hear his voice so rational and to find his decisions so objective, so stripped of emotion and a product of pure logic. I was suprized by the easiness of his monologue. He spoke of very serious matters, but not even for a second did he left me feeling troubled or desperate. He was an embodiment of dialectical divinity. It did took me quite a while to get to terms with all of this emotional talk, for I am a  what you might call a "deadpan bitch". I am a good listener, but I rarely give the opportunity to people to let themselves moan and complain about things that can be changed very easily. And with that in mind comes my next remark: with no intention of deminishing the importance of the child abuse problem, I want to say: "Why did you spend 309 pages on recollection and making excuses for a man, who was nothing but evil to you, even if he had the right to?" and secondly "Why, being the strong and incredibly beautiful human being that you are, Alan, why do you feel like you have to please everybody?"
I know that chances of Alan Cummings ever reading this are beyond slim, but if he ever did I want him to hear this:
"I will not send you hugs, I will not give you compasion and I will not praise you, but I will shake your hand with dignity and respect. I am proud for being give the chance to see you through your art and through this memoir. I got a glimse of your soul and you made me grateful for all the love I have had in my life. If you were part of my circle of friends I would be honored!
As far as the memoir itself it: It is split into four parts. Not My Father’s Son tells the story of Cumming’s appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? in October 2010. This neat device enables him to delve into his family history and travel around the world in an attempt to discover the fate of his maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, killed in a “shooting accident” in Malay in 1951. At the same time, and very much off-camera, he’s forced into a quest to find his father and to rethink his whole childhood when the unrepentant bully he grew up calling Dad makes a close-to-death confession. These two narratives intertwine and what links them both is Cumming’s warm, confiding tone.
As himself, the book is simply radiant!

#alancummings #bio #memoir #notmyfathersson #vivid #youneedahug

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Watcher in The Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Originally published in 1995 in Spain, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s THE WATCHER IN THE SHADOWS is a chilling, gothic thriller with elements of magical realism intended for young adults. I came across the book while book hunting in Soho. I don't know what even attracted me to it, I guess it was the mechanical bird on the cover. 

The story begins in 1937 and 14-year-old Irene Sauvelle, along with her younger brother, Dorian, and their widowed mother, Simone, relocate from Paris to a small, sleepy village on the coast of Normandy, called Blue Bay. Simone has been hired as a housekeeper at Cravenmoore, a secluded and mysterious mansion, home to the famous, reclusive, toymaker, genius, Lazarus Jann, and his bedridden wife. In exchange for Simone’s work, the family is allowed to live in the picturesque cottage, Seaview, overlooking the bay and the abandoned lighthouse. All sounds like a dream cometrue, especially after an year of disasters for the whole family.

A young adult novel cannot go without the love story so Irene inevitably meets Ismael, a shy and introspective orphan who spends most of his time sailing alone on his boat. A budding romance ensues as Ismael shows Irene around Blue Bay, the lagoon, the lighthouse and the Cave of Bats. All in all, the Sauvelle’s are content with their new lives in Blue Bay, and the stage is set for a comfortable summer, until a brutal murder takes place in the forest between Cravenmoore and Seaview.

As Irene and Ismael investigate, they quickly discover that a monstrous shadow haunts Cravenmoore, and Lazarus Jann is hiding a wicked past that will endanger all that Irene and Ismael hold dear. Complete with fantastical mechanical toys, dark and twisty passages within Cravenmoore, a sinister forest and an eerie diary, THE WATCHER IN THE SHADOWS has all the necessary components of a mystery/horror story that will keep readers frantically turning pages. 

Haunting and atmospheric, I found this novel to be beautifully written - the first one from this author I have read, and it is storytelling at its best. Absolutely enthralling from start to finish, with some lovely little twists and turns and some poetic prose, it may have you jumping at shadows even as a "grown up" and young adults who adore to be spooked will love this one entirely. A picture painted with words, it really was terrific stuff.

The mythology created is rich, the characterisation is really excellent - especially that of Lazarus, an enigmatic man who is difficult to pin down, and the sense of foreboding is very well done and will keep you off kilter.

A Gothic feel throughout, a very addictive read and one that I would highly recommend to both young and old alike. It has a wonderfully conceived plot, character and undeniable flair for writing combine to create a work that possesses that most desired status of literature: it is unputdownable. It is no wonder that revered writers and respected publications alike doff their caps to Ruiz Zafon's literary prowess.