What is it about February? Last year I had 6 DNFs in total, 3 of them in February. If the pattern holds, there will be 8 DNFs this year. Yes, there were 4 this month. I don’t usually name DNFs, but I must mention one, simply because finding a what seemed to me perfect summary in the novel I read immediately afterwards, is a coincidence not to be ignored.
Firstly, the critique of one of the novels shortlisted for The Prize in Filippo Bologna’s The Parrots:
Yours is a very special book, almost a kind of prose poem, with an epigrammatic, fragmentary quality that somehow magically creates unity
Yes, I thought that fits Saša Stanišić’s International Dublin Literary Award longlisted Before The Feast. Of course, it’s already won a host of other literary awards, but at 100 pages, it was taking an age to go anywhere. And its tricksiness was such that I actually despaired of there being any destination at all, so it was time to give up. Tellingly though I also DNF’d his multi -award winning debut. I guess we’re just not compatible.
Sarah Moss’s Signs for Lost Children, also longlisted for the International Dublin Literary award, was another disappointment. I was expecting great things given the love for her in the blogosphere. It’s always a risk when a novel follows two characters going their separate ways. What if one character’s journey is more interesting than the other’s? Well, that’s exactly what happened here. The wife stays behind to forge a career in Victorian mental institutions (interesting), while the husband goes on an extended trip to Japan, and falls in love with its culture and craftsmanship. Chapter after chapter, full of descriptions of beautiful artifacts. And then more of the same for good measure – or so it seemed. To say it dragged is an understatement.
Unlike the two Japanese novellas that kicked off Pushkin Press fortnight. Things picked up from that point on and this then became the month that just kept giving! Firstly I created Pushkin Press Corner which, now that I can see my entire Pushkin Press TBR at a glance, has triggered a project that will see me circumnavigate the world at least twice reading only titles from the Pushkin Press catalogue. I read and reviewed eight books in the fortnight, “travelling” from Japan to Spain via Russia, Israel, Austria and Italy. Anyone care to work out the airmiles?
While I didn’t visit Germany with Pushkin Press due to the Stanišić DNF, I did so anyway thanks to David Young’s thriller Stasi Wolf. No lack of action or movement to report in those pages!
Total YTD: 22 read, 4 DNF
Totals for February 2017:10 read, 4 DNF
Reviews February 2017: 9
– Stasi Wolf – David Young
– The Hunting Gun / Bullfight – Yasushi Inoue
– Rasputin and Other Ironies – Teffi
– One Night, Markovitch – Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
– The Last Days – Laurent Seksik
– The Governess and Other Stories – Stefan Zweig
– The Parrots – Filippo Bologna
– Things Look Different In The Light – Medardo Fraile
Book of the Month: This is only the second month of choosing a book of the month and I’m beginning to regret the idea. I suspect 3 of the Pushkin Books will make my best of year awards – Seksik, for saddest book, Bologna for best satire and Fraile for short stories. But if there has to be a book of the month, then Medardo Fraile’s brilliant collection convinced me that I did, in fact, save the best till last.