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Book Reviews
John Banville The Blue Guitar
All his life, Olly Orme has been a selective, if compulsive thief. Although married to the shadowy Gloria, he also stole Polly, the wife of his best friend Marcus, even if Olly might argue that she made the first move during a night-time car journey. Orme is a painter whose creative juices have dried up, but he is a painter nonetheless. So the prose rises marvellously to the challenge of a painter who has no recourse to his sketches, his oils and canvas. So he is reduced to mere words to describe and represent things, in sentences such as the following: "the sky of depthless turquoise held a kind of dark pulsing at its zenith..." The Blue Guitar confirms once again the presence of one of the most humane, perceptive writers working in English today. Paddy Kehoe
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A Useless Man Sait Faik Abasiyanik
Sait Faik Abasiyanik ( 1906-1954) is still one of Turkey’s most revered writers who, amidst other literary works, wrote twelve books of short stories. The stories collected in A Useless Man are vivid tales of the marginalised and poor in Istanbul which sparkle into life in Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe’s masterful translations. Engrossing and curiously refreshing, Sait Faik opens magical doors to Istanbul as it stood back in the early twentieth century, with its colourful array of prostitutes, barflys and musicians who frequented its coffee and tea houses and drinking dens. Paddy Kehoe
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The Long, Hot Summer
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Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret
Crime writer Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote 75 Maigret novels and 28 Maigret short stories. Penguin Classics are reissuing them all in translation and they are well worth checking out. The author offered very little glosses or explanations but the following few words are interesting in terms of how the author viewed his best-known character, Inspector Maigret. “My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it. It’s the one I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points.....’understand and judge not.’ Highly recommended. PK
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Kiš The Encyclopaedia of the Dead
A half-Jewish ethnic Serb born in 1935 in Subotica, then in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Danilo Kiš’s father and many members of his extended family were murdered in Auschwitz. Early works explored that legacy, but by the time he got to The Encyclopedia of the Dead - first published in Serbo-Croatian in 1983 - the author had moved to elaborately playful, post-Borgesian territory.the 167-page Encyclopaedia of the Dead is a book of wonders, product of a vivid imagination that is yet a model of narrative restraint. The collection was first published in English by Penguin in 1991. This new edition, translated by Michael Henry Heim, includes an informative, shrewd introduction by Mark Thompson.
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