Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Naughty, but nice!

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Imagine if you will that you are one of group of elderly people stuck living in a facility that is bleeding you dry while providing less and less in return (except for the medication to keep you quiet). Imagine you've just discovered that your conditions are worse than what prisoners in jail have. What would you do, if you found yourself in this situation? Well, some people would try to figure out how to make yourself and your friends into criminals to improve your living situation. That's exactly what Martha does when she dreams up the perfect crime for her "League of Pensioners."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Capturing the Fear

The Fox was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller

Every so often, you come across a reviewer who pans a novel by saying, "nothing happens" in the book. This is exactly one of those types of novels, and I'm sure we'll see many reviews to this effect. The problem is, this is deeply unfortunate because fewer people will be encouraged read it. In advance of these disparaging opinions, I would like to put forward my opposing side of this argument.

The first reason why people should read this book is the particularly stunning prose that Müller uses here. Müller shifts smoothly between simple language and lyrical imagery that brings to mind Ondaatje, when he was just beginning to combine poetry with writing fiction. I should admit that some of the credit due here is to the translator (Phillip Boehm) who did a fantastic job of conveying what I'm sure was the atmosphere that Müller infused into the original Romanian text.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Books on the Waters

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Jean Perdu has a bookshop in Paris, but it isn't on one of their charming streets. No, his bookshop is on a barge on the Seine. That isn't the only thing about it that's extraordinary; Jean has a penchant for finding just the right book for each of his customers, and he won't sell them a book that he thinks isn't right for them. In fact, Jean Perdu named his bookshop the Literary Apothecary, prescribing books to heal peoples' souls. However, Jean only realizes that he hasn't known how to give himself the same advice, after a new tenant moves into the flat across from him. That's when he lifts anchor to navigate the rivers (and some roads) of France from Paris to Provence, to follow his own plot-line, to see if there's an ending to it that's different from the one he's been resigned to reaching for over 20 years.