Beautifully illustrated by Chip Kidd with big full colour plates resembling Japanese graphic from the 1920s and 30s, and cleverly packaged with the coBeautifully illustrated by Chip Kidd with big full colour plates resembling Japanese graphic from the 1920s and 30s, and cleverly packaged with the cover opening up like a box and its flaps serving for oversized bookmarks. This is what a paper version of the book should look like nowadays, in my opinion. Otherwise why should we buy paper books? This one is quite a work of art. What about the story? It's short, very short - it took me me about twenty minutes to read through it all. But, I enjoyed it. It's typically Murakami- a bizarre combination of everyday elements, but quite hypnotic in the end. No surprises. On reading....more
A variation of the Shadow of the Wind theme, this story also takes place in Barcelona among books, old bookshops, fathers and sons, mysterious happeniA variation of the Shadow of the Wind theme, this story also takes place in Barcelona among books, old bookshops, fathers and sons, mysterious happenings, and unfulfilled promises, and is a very loose prequel to The Shadow of the Wind. Even the Cemetery of Forgotten Books makes an appearance again. The main protagonist, a melancholy talented writer, is a subject to a series of mysterious happenings that leaves an impressive trail of bodies. There are echoes of Dumas and Romantic novelists, and Raymond Chandler type detective stories there. The plot is not always plausible, but quite compelling. What is nice about this story is that it’s all about books, their souls and power of stories. I think that it’s a deliberate concoction of pulp fiction and really nice literary story- the language is superb, and the whole thing sort of hovers on the border of a memorable read. I probably liked it a fraction better than the Shadow of the Wind since I knew what to expect. 3.5/5...more
What a lovely story! In 1988, Jenny, a precocious, non-conformist and hippie West American girl wins a three week long 'friendship' trip to the SovietWhat a lovely story! In 1988, Jenny, a precocious, non-conformist and hippie West American girl wins a three week long 'friendship' trip to the Soviet Union where she takes part in a mixed American - Russian camping, biking and rowing romp through Siberia on and along the River Ob. The story, told with lots of warmth, subtle humour and acute powers of observation, is a delight to read....more
A rare glimpse into the lives of people connected to Magdan, one of the Gulag cities in the Far East of Russia. Interlinked stories, interlinked livesA rare glimpse into the lives of people connected to Magdan, one of the Gulag cities in the Far East of Russia. Interlinked stories, interlinked lives, sad, ordinary, and extraordinary and beautifully written about. Highly recommended....more
James Wood, watch your suitcases! I can't say I completely disagree with you, although you somehow miss the point that The Bone Clocks are about beingJames Wood, watch your suitcases! I can't say I completely disagree with you, although you somehow miss the point that The Bone Clocks are about being an author, writing and getting old. I am giving the book five stars with some reservations- everything in the same voice- yes, I noticed that too, and I think David Mitchell can do better than that. Except for Holly Sykes in the first chapter where the narration is absolutely brilliant, everything else is written in basically the same manner. Apart from that I have no objections. Even to Harry Potter meet Japanese Zen bits. I also hope the author is good friends with Martin Amis, even though Crispin sounds like a crossover of him and the author himself, but... Perhaps more to come if I find the time, which I probably won't. Definitely worth reading and quite brilliant altogether....more
As somebody who smuggled copies of Animal Farm and Darkness at Noon from England to Poland at the end of the seventies, I ended up with a very emotionAs somebody who smuggled copies of Animal Farm and Darkness at Noon from England to Poland at the end of the seventies, I ended up with a very emotional relationship with this book. To all the critics of Pasternak's choices, I can only say that he showed immense integrity and courage and should be commended.
The book is very well written, minutely researched and reads like crime fiction. Definitely recommended....more
It’s a nice little book on the Dutch art and design movement of the 20s and 30s of the last century. It fluidly moves through the subject matter and cIt’s a nice little book on the Dutch art and design movement of the 20s and 30s of the last century. It fluidly moves through the subject matter and contains some quaint remarks about Holland and the Dutch on top of a good review of the movement and its ideals.
The book in Polish translation has travelled with me for many years before I finally read it. It was translated and published in the 70s, so during a slightly relaxed but still quite orthodox communist rule in Poland. When I researched the author, I learned that Overy, an art historian and critic, was dismissed from The Times for his left leaning sympathies. It may explain why the book was published in Poland at all since even vaguely contemporary Western art could be a sticky subject back then. Left leaning was good. The book itself is written with no political overtones, but with wit, lightness and an obvious good command of the subject matter. It’s so apolitical actually, that the Polish authorities decided that a more Polish, communist and socially engaged slant was needed and a chapter about Polish connections to the Stijl with subtle overtones to socialist ideology is appended at the end. It’s all quite interesting. ...more
Nie jest to ani książka, ani Polska, do której chciałabym wracać. Ale nie jest to książka zła. Na pewno wciąga. Wydaje się, że jest napisana na fali bNie jest to ani książka, ani Polska, do której chciałabym wracać. Ale nie jest to książka zła. Na pewno wciąga. Wydaje się, że jest napisana na fali bestsellerowskich kryminałów ze Skandynawii- krytyka społeczna ubrana w kryminalny wątek. Nawet głowna bohaterka nieco przypomina Lisbeth Salander. I byłoby to zupełnie wystarczające i zupełnie ok, ale najwyraźniej autorka miała większe ambicje. Jest tam pomieszanie stylów pisarskich, które moim zdaniem tylko mącą i osłabiają ostateczną wymowę książki. Są tam elementy legendy, powieści gotyckiej, satyry, pastiszu, poezji. W efekcie ta książka nie wie na pewno czym chce być - literaturą piekną, literaturą faktu, kryminałem? To też byłoby w porządku gdyby to wszystko dobrze grało ze soba, ale dla mnie nie pasowało to do poważnej tematyki tam poruszanej. W jakiś sposób ją pomniejszało. Może to co piszę tu jest tylko i wyłącznie miarą rozczarowania i niespełnionych oczekiwan, bo nie jest to książka jakiej sie spodziewałam po przeczytaniu Japońskiego Wachlarza. Kto wie. 3.5/5 And, for my English speaking friends, not exactly the same but the gist of it: I really enjoyed Bator’s Japanese Fan and had big hopes for this book, especially that it got the 2013 Nike- the Polish equivalent of a Booker. It was definitely a compelling read- I tore through 500 pages in one day, but it was not what I expected. I expected something deeper, and this is more of dark thriller in the vein of The Girl Who Played With Fire with literary aspirations for more. I am not saying that there are no good parts there- there is a very sober, satirical look at the contemporary Polish society, some great descriptions of Walbrzych, and a nicely executed consistent watercolour-like black and white imagery. Yet, there are too many clever twists and turns, too many quirky characters, too much quirkiness in general in light of a very grave topic it deals with. ...more
Reading Murakami is like going to the same place many times and discovering that it got ever so slightly different with the seasons and the passage ofReading Murakami is like going to the same place many times and discovering that it got ever so slightly different with the seasons and the passage of time. His new novel belongs to that place. We still have a lost protagonist who goes on a quest, women who are much more introspective and shrewder than men, classical music, a jazz pianist and nice ears. Cats have temporarily moved out, though. There are dogs in their place.
Somewhat a disappointment, but I am not entirely sure why. Everything seemed to be in place after all. Maybe because of the scope of it? It just felt like a drawn out short story. 3.5/5 ...more
Terminal cancer, Shakespeare, Ann Frank, and thoughts on writing and the universe mixed in. Brainy, compassionate and compelling. To paraphrase a thouTerminal cancer, Shakespeare, Ann Frank, and thoughts on writing and the universe mixed in. Brainy, compassionate and compelling. To paraphrase a thought from the book, it was a privilege to read it. ...more
Newfoundland, refugees, some rugged landscape and adventure. A good book for independent reading. A bit simple as far as the story goes, and a bit tooNewfoundland, refugees, some rugged landscape and adventure. A good book for independent reading. A bit simple as far as the story goes, and a bit too difficult as far as the language goes, but overall ok. A nice character of Harold- I hope he is somebody real. 3.5/5...more
It's a delightful book, even though the title misrepresents what it really is about. The mapmaker's wife, Isabel Godin, occupies less than half of itsIt's a delightful book, even though the title misrepresents what it really is about. The mapmaker's wife, Isabel Godin, occupies less than half of its pages and, even though her story is a very interesting one, it's part of an even more colourful story of the French Academy of Sciences expedition into the Andes to divine the shape and circumference of the Earth. Without giving too much away, let me just say that Isabel Godin wasn't a mapmaker's wife, either. She was the wife of one of the assistants to the expedition, one of the younger ones on staff. He was named a ‘geographer’ and given a pension by the king in the end, though. Those inaccuracies aside, it’s a great book full of interesting historical characters and events, info on the colonial life in South America, science at the age of Enlightenment, and American flora and fauna. Among other things, the book made me ponder the resilience and patience of the people back then. Their life seemed so much more difficult on the plain survival level. Tragedy and hardship were ubiquitous. The pace of the 18th century colonial world seems almost unimaginable to me. Take communication for example. You could have no news from your family for months and sometimes even tens of years if your letters went astray or if the ship they were on fell into pirates’ hands or was lost at sea. The whole expedition took eight years to finish their work… Poor Isabel spent twenty years (19 to be exact) to hear back from her loving husband, who after having traversed the continent was waiting for appropriate papers to take her to France. And then there is her months long harrowing trip down the Andes and down the Amazon, the trip the author of the book duplicated and was amazed at....more