Dead Souls

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Read 27/10/2021-17/11/2021

Rating 5 stars

Next on my literary tour of Europe, I’m off to Russia. Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls is set in an unspecified Russian provincial capital, only referred to as N—. This undefined location means that I can fudge my journey on the map and visit Kaliningrad. This city is also a Russian provincial capital, but in a small exclave of Russia that sits on the Baltic coast between Lithuania and Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast. Continue reading

Random Thoughts: Meeting People is Easy

Image from EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS/DigitalVision/Getty

I don’t know why I’ve chosen the title of a film I’ve never watched about a band I’m not that bothered about as the heading for this post. Perhaps because I don’t think meeting people is easy. And yet here I am about to pretend to meet people by answering some questions about myself. Thank goodness we’re not in a room together.

I don’t often do things that involve tagging, but Chris over at Calmgrove’s recent post in response to a new tag #goodtomeetcha invented by Mayri at Bookforager sent me off to the origin post.

I enjoyed both Chris’s and Mayri’s answers so much that I’ve decided to have a go myself. The questions are all as they appear in Mayri’s post.

Continue reading

Random Thoughts: European Book Tour

Political map of Europe from vidiani.com

I’ve been perusing my stack of books that I have yet to read, and have decided that I’m going on another book trip. I enjoyed “holidaying” over the summer via the books I’d bought on recent holidays. As it’s unlikely that I’ll get to Europe for a while (thanks pandemic, thanks Brexit), I thought I’d knock a few titles off the stack that are by European authors and head off on a virtual tour of the continent.

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Hadji Murat

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Read 11/08/2021-18/08/2021

Rating 4 stars

Hadji Murat is Tolstoy’s final novel, drafted and redrafted between 1896 and 1904, going through eight iterations before the final version was created. It is an examination of war and political posturing between opposing cultures that has relevance to the world we live in today. Continue reading

Random thought: Una Stubbs loves Crime and Punishment too

I love Una Stubbs. Forget those silly boys dashing about London solving mysteries, she makes Sherlock for me.

She’s more than Mrs Hudson, though. She’s the cheeky foil to Cliff Richard who knows how to dance. She’s an expert at charades. Her episode of Who Do You Think You Are is one of the best they’ve ever done.

She’s in The Guardian today doing the Q&A. Quite aside from learning she despises Tony Blair, I love her even more today because she knows that you don’t need a fancy pants education to read Crime and Punishment (have I mentioned that it’s my favourite book in the world? Oh, I have?).

 

The Milkman in the Night

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Read 26/12/2015-29/12/2015

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge

“Cars were driving past them, making sighing and sobbing noises as they drove over snow that had already been kneaded by countless tyres.”

Andrey Kurkov is one of my favourite contemporary writers. This sentence not only poetically describes winter in Kiev, it also stands as a description of the human condition in Ukraine.

This is Ukraine after the Orange Revolution. Viktor Yushchenko is President and Viktor Yanukovych is Prime Minister. Yulia Tymoshenko is waiting in the wings. Corruption is the default position, selective naivety a way to survive. Continue reading

WE

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Read 20/04/2015-23/04/2015

Rating: 3 stars

I really enjoyed this futuristic dystopian SciFi tale. Tempting to read all kinds of things into it, given the time of its publication and subsequent banning in Russia, but actually I think it’s just a reflection on how things can go wrong when you try to make everything equal by eliminating the complexities of human nature, and how conforming to the prevalent culture can sometimes feel safe, even when it’s not. Pertinent to all societies, not just overtly oppressive ones. Continue reading