Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art
This is my first Moore (I know, I know) and I enjoyed very much in it. Here I hope this doesn’t mean I will not enjoy in his previous books (which I have on my never-decreasing to be read pile) since majority is like love previous= don’t like this one.
Three days ago I just peeked inside without intention to do more than just that: peek. But since the book started with one of my favourite work of art (“Wheatfield with crows” in front of which I spent hours and more that, than once) I was like hypnotized, obsessed by sacre bleu 😉 I know it’s just an expression but I literally couldn’t stop reading. Masterpieces after masterpieces (many of which I saw on my traveling), painters I knew so much about, now under totally different light, everyone knows each other; Belle Époque in Paris was never more tempting *sigh*.
I’m a slow reader and plus English is not my mother tongue but I stormed (for my standards) through this book in less than 3 days leaving behind cloud of blue dust 🙂
Yes the story went in all directions; he might have lost his compass but I didn’t mind whatsoever. It was funny, not hilarious but with those subtle (not always so subtle though) jokes that requires knowledge about the (real) characters. That’s probably the reason why I was bothered cause he decided to reveal last name of Oscar (Wilde) and especially (!!!) title of the novel he was about to write. I was like “Oh no! Why?” almost insulted with his presumption that I might don’t know what he’s writing about (and those who wouldn’t know without his “clarification” well… they should go back in elementary school and start all over again). Speaking of wittiness I’ll never think the same about the myth of Sisyphus (there’s only one sentence about it but still).
And of course I’ll never think the same about Toulouse-Lautrec ever, ever again! I had to remind myself more than once what I’m reading IS a fiction 🙂
Half trough the book you will probably realize … umm … well who is who but that will certainly not decrease you interest and spoil the journey. And when the journey is over you’ll most definitively have urge to make another one, to the nearest museum or gallery and meet … someone 🙂
The Tiger’s Wife
I’ve read this book in its original language, English even though it has been published in (in Tea’s own words) “the most important of all translations”, Serbian. Because I love reading work in its original language whenever I can. And it was strange experience because I did recognize my own folklore but in the same time was thinking how there’s no way that anyone unfamiliar of that folklore would recognize it and more importantly, understand it.
OK we know Tea is from Serbia (or if you wish ex Yugoslavia) and that is what I believe was the starting point for many foreign (!) reviewers to place its plot here in Balkan region. I being from the region could find connections with it even though she (Obrecht) clearly put an effort not to make it obvious: the only two places mentioned in the book that actually exists in reality are Vienna and Istanbul. All other names are fictional and majority of them sounds quite impossible. The pretty much the same goes with the names of characters (and I’m not sure why she decided to do that). There are only few names that are names in reality. Moreover some of the names (for example Gavran which means “raven” or Dure or Darisa) are words you cannot associate with the person. Maybe those sounds interesting, exotic, or … for English speaking world (which is of course legitimate reason). So I asked myself how would you (if at all) know the plot is in ex-Yugoslavia? Yes there are hints like “we” are celebrating Christmas in January (ok so it is settled in the region where Orthodox Christians live); Muslims don’t have it, Catholics don’t have it but “they” do (meaning tree religions live in the same region); after the war Nobel Prize writer became theirs and we named our airport after that crazy scientist (writer is Ivo Andric but we consider him as ours and scientist is Nikola Tesla, airport is in Belgrade); numerous words she used in their native form (vila, mora, hajduk, gusle, ajvar, … and about that it’s strange the English edition didn’t offer translations or explanation), some names, some last names… etc. So based on those things I would be able to conclude that the plot is settled in my region indeed BUT would I made the same conclusion without knowing these things? If I’m not from here? Well I doubt. But nevertheless it was interesting how everyone (I’m quite sure) without knowing those things, understanding the non-English words or recognizing the customs have placed the book here.
Saying all this I’m not sure can I give one objective review because there are so many things that I’m familiar with and this especially when she was describing air raids in an unnamed city. Of course it was all too obvious she’s speaking about NATO bombing of Serbia 1999 and yes those few pages where she describes those first days, weeks of bombing in real life were exactly how she described: disbelief at first and then people fled into shelters and they came out of the shelters deciding to be in the open, on the bridges, cafes, restaurants refusing to give up of those few scrapes of normal life they had. What a flashback that was! The story about the zoo during the bombing however was fiction.
The story is interesting enough. Really good actually if you consider it’s a debut novel so thumbs up. I did like drops of surrealism combined with a Slavic folklore but what I really loved is a painting of a mentality in a small isolated village and how they are facing fear of the unknown.
In the end it was fast and interesting read.
My Brother and His Brother
I’ve read this novel in one sitting (which doesn’t happen quite often). It was a lovely melancholic story written in simple but quite effective language. One of those quiet, unpretentious books you stumble upon every now and then and after you’re done you realize that you just found a true gem. Absolutely recommending to everyone in love with fine literature.
This was debut novel that received critical acclaim when it first appeared in Sweden in 1993. It won “Prix Litteraire Bordelaise de Lunetterie” when in was published in French in 2002.