Book Finds: Little King Diamond

But really it is a sort of enchantment; a story that use a fantastical element to catch your attention and allow the dialog to explore weightier matters. On the other hand, the book doesn’t require deep philosophical thought. You can read it just for the silly ,quirky interaction between the king and the narrator; for the strange and wonderful way the story captures/describes the world. And for the beautiful illustrations.

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The Song of the Whales by Uri Orlev, Hillel Halkin (Translator)

As you obviously know by now, I am a hopeless book addict reader. As such I am incapable of going into to a library without checking out books. To make it easier on myself, and to please my family, I mostly check out children’s, young adult and short story type books.  That way there are not large stacks of books making me feel guilty because I know I will never read them all.

It was on one such library trip recently that I saw The Song of the Whales.  The combination of the cover and the blurb had me intrigued.

Michael’s grandfather has a secret—a secret that’s almost too strange to share . . .

When Michael moves to Israel, he leaves loneliness behind and steps into the light of his grandfather’s magic. Like a sorcerer’s apprentice, Michael learns how to blur the lines between dreams and reality when his grandfather hands down the most precious of gifts—a gift that allows Michael passage into his grandfather’s dreams.

Written with a quiet simplicity that wins the reader over at once Uri Orlev writes in a style so sure and yet so unassuming that it is certain to linger in reader’s minds long after turning the last page.

Turned out to be an interesting and at times moving exploration of friendship, love, loneliness, death and family (not as cliche as it sounds).  It jumps around a bit and doesn’t always flow smoothly but it has an appropriate dreamlike quality and the central relationship is quite touching.

Continue reading

The Song of the Whales by Uri Orlev, Hillel Halkin (Translator)

As you obviously know by now, I am a hopeless book addict reader. As such I am incapable of going into to a library without checking out books. To make it easier on myself, and to please my family, I mostly check out children’s, young adult and short story type books.  That way there are not large stacks of books making me feel guilty because I know I will never read them all.

It was on one such library trip recently that I saw The Song of the Whales.  The combination of the cover and the blurb had me intrigued.

Michael’s grandfather has a secret—a secret that’s almost too strange to share . . .

When Michael moves to Israel, he leaves loneliness behind and steps into the light of his grandfather’s magic. Like a sorcerer’s apprentice, Michael learns how to blur the lines between dreams and reality when his grandfather hands down the most precious of gifts—a gift that allows Michael passage into his grandfather’s dreams.

Written with a quiet simplicity that wins the reader over at once Uri Orlev writes in a style so sure and yet so unassuming that it is certain to linger in reader’s minds long after turning the last page.

Turned out to be an interesting and at times moving exploration of friendship, love, loneliness, death and family (not as cliche as it sounds).  It jumps around a bit and doesn’t always flow smoothly but it has an appropriate dreamlike quality and the central relationship is quite touching.

Continue reading

The Break by Pietro Grossi

As has been noted on this blog before, I am an eclectic reader. If I was dedicated and savvy about these things I would pick an audience or niche and stick with it (read the right books, connect with the right blogs, market in the right places, etc.).

But I am neither savvy nor dedicated so what you get is a little of this and a little of that – whatever happens to catch my attention at the time and/or whatever I get the time and energy to write about.

I bring this up because it has been a while since I have read a more “literary” work and particularly one that is translated (Fame if memory serves).  But when the publisher brought The Break by Pietro Grossi to my attention I was intrigued.

Here is the publisher’s description:

Dino is a placid, unambitious man. Living in a small provincial town, he and his wife spend their time planning journeys to faraway places–journeys they never take. Dino’s only passion is billiards, and he spends his evenings in the local billiards hall honing his technique.

One day, however, Dino’s quiet life is interrupted–his wife falls pregnant. This the first in a series of events that shake him from his slumber and force Dino to test himself for the first time.

It may sound like a cliche, but what I enjoy about works like this is how the author drops you into another  character’s world and mind. What I admire is the way skilled writers create this world and describe both the physical and psychological reality in such artistic and though provoking ways. In literary efforts the power of words and ideas come together – the reader can enjoy both the art of the sentence and the larger art of how these words and the story come together.

This is exactly what The Break achieves.  With an economical yet philosophical style Grossi slowly sketches the exterior and interior world of Dino. His personality and habits are revealed and in such a way as to fit within the larger world and his particular worldview. Despite the economical prose their is an emotional punch.

More below.

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In the Mail: Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery

*This was inadvertently buried in the Mail pile and wanted to make you aware of it

Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery (Pepe Carvalho Mysteries)

Publishers Weekly

Those who prefer getting inside characters’ heads to figuring out whodunit will enjoy this mystery in Montalbán’s series featuring food-loving PI Pepe Carvalho (Buenos Aires Quintet, etc.), first published in Spain in 1976. When the corpse of an unknown man with the words Born to Raise Hell in Hell tattooed on his shoulder surfaces off the Barcelona coast, Ramón Freixas, a hair salon owner, asks Carvalho to investigate. For reasons he doesn’t share with the gumshoe, Freixas wants the victim identified. The tattoo’s trail takes the detective to Amsterdam, where he figures out the murder was related to the drug trade. Carvalho’s cynicism (he divides the world into those who go to jail and those who might go to jail) will make him a familiar figure to hard-boiled devotees. The final twist will appeal to readers comfortable with some ambiguity.

In the Mail: Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery

*This was inadvertently buried in the Mail pile and wanted to make you aware of it

Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery (Pepe Carvalho Mysteries)

Publishers Weekly

Those who prefer getting inside characters’ heads to figuring out whodunit will enjoy this mystery in Montalbán’s series featuring food-loving PI Pepe Carvalho (Buenos Aires Quintet, etc.), first published in Spain in 1976. When the corpse of an unknown man with the words Born to Raise Hell in Hell tattooed on his shoulder surfaces off the Barcelona coast, Ramón Freixas, a hair salon owner, asks Carvalho to investigate. For reasons he doesn’t share with the gumshoe, Freixas wants the victim identified. The tattoo’s trail takes the detective to Amsterdam, where he figures out the murder was related to the drug trade. Carvalho’s cynicism (he divides the world into those who go to jail and those who might go to jail) will make him a familiar figure to hard-boiled devotees. The final twist will appeal to readers comfortable with some ambiguity.