Monthly Archives: November 2016

Review: Medea—A Modern Retelling by Christa Wolf

This title was translated from the original German by John Cullen.

My Review:
medeaI have to admit that as a classicist I try to avoid retellings of ancients myths and texts because they never live up to the brilliance of the original authors.  I had passed over Wolf’s Medea and Cassandra for this very reason, but a fellow bibliophile with similar reading tastes to my own convinced me to give Wolf’s books a try and I am so glad that I did.

Jason is portrayed as the archetypal Greek hero in the ancient myths; he has unusual circumstances surrounding his birth, he is not raised by his parents but instead by a Centaur, he goes on a quest during which his strength and intelligence are greatly tested, and he has a complicated relationship with women.  Although, in Jason’s case it is actually one very powerful woman named Medea.  While on his quest with his fellow Argonauts, to get the Golden Fleece from King Aeëtes  in the dark, unknown city of Colchis, he encounters Medea.  Euripides and Seneca both portray Medea as a sinister and violent woman who uses her magic arts to get what she wants and to exact revenge on her enemies.  As she is leaving Colchis with Jason on the Argo, she chops up the body parts of her young brother so that their father, the King, has to stop his ship and collect the pieces of his son.  And when Jason breaks off his marriage with Medea to marry the young princess in Corinth, Medea makes him pay the price by murdering their children.

Wolf’s Medea is an intense, passionate,  assertive woman who questions and even challenges the power of two kings.  At home in Colchis, there is a movement among the lower classes, which is supported by Medea, to invoke an old law that will force King Aeëtes to step down in deference to his son, the next in line for the throne.  It is Medea’s father who is responsible for her brother’s murder because in eliminating his heir to the throne he rejects the will of the people and retains his crown.  Medea is so sickened by her father’s choice to murder his own child that when the Argonauts arrive in Colchis she views her chance to help Jason as a means of escape from the King’s absolute rule.  Medea betrays her father, helps Jason capture the Golden Fleece, and on the way back to Iolcus on the Argo she scatters the bones of her murdered brother as a type of funeral service and tribute to him.

Wolf’s begins each chapter in her Medea with a quotation fitting for the character that is speaking;  many of the quotes that Wolf chooses are from the ancient plays of Seneca and Euripides.  But the quotations that are especially striking are those that Wolf borrows from René  Girard’s book Violence and the Sacred.  Leukon, an astronomer for King Creon who sympathizes with Medea and tries to warn her about the treachery of her enemies, has a speech during which he recounts seeing an angry mob of citizens who chase Medea through the streets of Corinth.  A rumor that has been started about Medea that she is the cause of Corinth’s misfortunes and that she was the one who murdered her brother.  Wolf quotes this fitting passage from Girard:

People want to convince
themselves that their misfortunes
come from one single responsible person
who can easily be got rid of.

The people of Corinth insist that, despite a lack of evidence, Medea is the cause of all their evils and she will be their scapegoat.  They distrust foreigners, especially the darker skin people from Colchis whose traditions and culture they do not understand.  The Colchians who came to Corinth with Medea are referred to as refugees, are marginalized and forced to live in poor conditions in a seedy side of town.  Medea is viewed as the leader of these unwanted refugees and so all of the Corinthians’ frustration is misdirected at her and they believe that by eliminating her that their city will once again be prosperous.

In addition, Wolf’s portrayal of Jason shows a man who is much more conflicted than the archetypal hero of Greek myth.  When Jason and Medea find themselves guests of King Creon there is a deep level of mistrust for Colchians, and Medea in particular with her gifts of healing and astrology.  King Creon ejects Medea and her two children from the palace and she is forced to live in a hut adjacent to the royal dwelling.  But Jason still loves her deeply and craves the physical and sexual attentions that he gets from Medea.  As Corinth begins to suffer a series of catastrophes such as drought, earthquake and plague, Medea’s enemies conspire against her to help make her the scapegoat for all of the evils that Corinth is suffering.  King Creon, who had secretly sacrificed his youngest daughter to keep his throne, is on the verge of being exposed by Medea’s questions and investigations.  In the end, Jason chooses to side with the King in order to save himself.  But Wolf shows us a Jason who is truly conflicted, weeps openly, and whose decisions do not come lightly.

Finally, something must be said about Wolf’s brilliant writing.  The book is a series of eleven monologues, each given my a different character who is involved in this series of circumstances in Corinth.  Wolf is a master at altering her writing to reflect the different characters which she is trying to portray.  Medea’s monologues, for instance,  are very eloquent and intelligent.  She understands the impossible circumstances that surround her and she is very reflective about what brought her to this place.  Jason, on the other hand, is brash and his dialogue has more short sentences and imperatives.  One of the other monologues that is masterfully written is that of Glauce, King Creon’s youngest daughter.  She is very naïve and immature and the run on sentences in her monologue reflect her confusion and misunderstanding about what is going on around her.

I can say that Wolf’s retelling of this ancient text has not only impressed me but has also given me a renewed interest in revisiting the original authors and viewing them from a new perspective.

About the Author:
c-wolfAs a citizen of East Germany and a committed socialist, Christa Wolf managed to keep a critical distance from the communist regime. Her best-known novels included “Der geteilte Himmel” (“Divided Heaven,” 1963), addressing the divisions of Germany, and “Kassandra” (“Cassandra,” 1983), which depicted the Trojan War.

She won awards in East Germany and West Germany for her work, including the Thomas Mann Prize in 2010. The jury praised her life’s work for “critically questioning the hopes and errors of her time, and portraying them with deep moral seriousness and narrative power.”

Christa Ihlenfeld was born March 18, 1929, in Landsberg an der Warthe, a part of Germany that is now in Poland. She moved to East Germany in 1945 and joined the Socialist Uni A citizen of East Germany and a committed socialist, Mrs. Wolf managed to keep a critical distance from the communist regime. Her best-known novels included “Der geteilte Himmel” (“Divided Heaven,” 1963), addressing the divisions of Germany, and “Kassandra” (“Cassandra,” 1983), which depicted the Trojan War.

She won awards in East Germany and West Germany for her work, including the Thomas Mann Prize in 2010. The jury praised her life’s work for “critically questioning the hopes and errors of her time, and portraying them with deep moral seriousness and narrative power.”

Christa Ihlenfeld was born March 18, 1929, in Landsberg an der Warthe, a part of Germany that is now in Poland. She moved to East Germany in 1945 and joined the Socialist Unity Party in 1949. She studied German literature in Jena and Leipzig and became a publisher and editor.

In 1951, she married Gerhard Wolf, an essayist. They had two children.

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Filed under German Literature, Literature in Translation

Beauty and Love: My Bookstore Adventure in Maine

maine-books-2
I had the chance to spend some time vacationing in Maine over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Like any truly dedicated bibliophile, I seek out used bookstores wherever I go and Maine has some great selections.  I browed a rather large one in Wells which not only has rooms and rooms full of books but also has a rather large selection of maps.  I came home with an interesting mix of books, the first of which is a copy of Petronius’s  Satyricon.  Now why would a classicist need another translation of Petronius’s bawdy novel, you might ask.  This copy that I found was published in 1931 and is the translation attributed to Oscar Wilde.  It is attributed to Wilde but no one is quite sure if he actually did the translation himself or if he translated it from the original Latin text.  There are large parts of the translation that were borrowed from three previous translations.  In addition, the original copies of the book were published without naming the translator on the title page but instead the publisher sent out each copy with a slip indicating that the translator was Sebastian Melmoth, Wilde’s pseudonym.  For more information on this interesting literary hoax, here is a link to an excerpt of an article that was written about this translation: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/373513/pdf

wilde-satyricon

The next book I found as I wandered the many rooms of this bookstore was a copy of Thackeray’s Ballads published in 1856.  He is, of course, most famous for his longer work Vanity Fair and it was nice to discover that he had written this short volume of Ballads.  It’s interesting that this author who was known for his satirical works also wrote love poems and some short narrative poems.  The particular bookshop seems to have many editions of very old books.  This particular book of Thackeray’s Ballads is not valuable and I only paid $7.50 for it, but it is now one of the oldest books I have on my shelves.

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ballad-inscription

Next, I was specifically looking for a copy of anything I could find by William James, the American pragmatist philosopher.  I recently read American Philosophy by John Kaag and his discovery of a long-forgotten library with over 10,000 books, some of which beloved to James, renewed my interest in American philosophy.  I was surprised when the bookstore clerk said that books by American philosophers are very popular and I was lucky to find this copy of James’s essays published by Longmans, Green, and Co. in 1917.  This collection of essays includes some of his most famous such as “Is Life Worth Living” which was delivered at Harvard’s Holden Chapel in 1985.

james-book

The final book that I found is my favorite of the collection.  At the entrance to the bookshop there is a huge table with stacks of books on the table and around the table that are the shop’s most recent arrivals that haven’t been categorized yet.  I walked up to these piles, which are rather daunting, and plucked a slim volume of poetry off the top.  The author of the book is William Dwight Crane and I noticed that there is a handwritten inscription inside the book that reads, “For Angel, From Bill in memory of many happy times.  December 19, 1932.”  The book is also signed by the author.  I researched the author’s name on the Internet and could find no biographical information on him or titles of other books that he wrote.  This lonely, slim volume might have been sitting on a pile in that bookshop all but forgotten for years.  I am happy to give it a new home with my other books will it will be used and read from time to time.

crane-1

crane-2

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The poems are a bit simple, but they are clearly from the heart and there is something about their simplicity that captivated me.  I will share one such poem entitled “Beauty and Love” from the collection:

Beauty is the soul of man’s desire
A blessed synthesis of pity, joy, and pain
Burned from out the centre of that fire
Of Passion which else were but a stain
Upon our shields, a funeral pyre
On which in each succeeding age have lain
The ashes of the deeds to which men’s hearts aspire,
Only to rise on phoenix-wings to urge men on again,
Beauty of form, and subtle harmony of line,
Beauty of thought and faery fantasy,
Beauty of deed, which makes the thought divine
Compose this substance born of ecstasy,
We need but fashion it with gentile hands,
And, lo! the image Love before us stands.

My daughter, who also inherited the reading gene, found some books to add to her own growing collection, including one about the ocean.  True bibliophiles know that used bookstores can be such great places of adventure and discovery.  What are your favorite bookshop finds?

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Filed under British Literature, Classics, Opinion Posts, Poetry

Review: Berlin-Hamlet — Poetry by Szilárd Borbély

I received a review copy of this title from NYRB.  This collection was published in the original Hungarian in 2003 and this English version has been translated by Ottilie Mulzet.

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My Review:
berlin-hamletI was debating whether or not to even attempt any type of review of this collection of poetry.  The layers of imagery, references and allusions to great figures like Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Attila József and Erno Szép could never be unpacked or fully explained in one short review.  But I found the language and images of Borbély’s  poetry so moving that I decided I had to at least attempt to put some thoughts together in order to bring more attention to this Hungarian poet and his tragic end.

The collection of free verse poems is divided into five interwoven themes and each poem in a cycle is given a sequential number.  The cycle of poems entitled “Letter” are based upon quotations extracted from diaries and letters of Kafka.  Borbély puts his own unique touch on each of Kafka’s quotations by rewriting and reworking them.  Kafka is the perfect figure through which to mix images of Berlin, with city he had a connection through Felice, and Hamlet, whose indecision is reminiscent of Kafka’s own hesitancy about his relationship.  The first in the series of “Letter” poems is the perfect blend of elements that include Kafka, Berlin, and reticence:

[Letter I]

At last I have a picture of you as I
once saw you. Of course not as when
I glimpsed you
for the first time, without your
jacket, bareheaded,
your face unframed by a hat. but
when
you disappeared before my eyes into
the entrance of the hotel,

as I walked beside you, and nothing
as of yet
connected me to you. Although I
longed only
for the strongest tie to bind me to
you. Tell me,
don’t your relatives pursue you
altogether too much? You shouldn’t
have had time for me, even if I had
come
to Berlin. But what am I saying? Is
this how I want
to bring my self-reproaches to an
end? And finally,
wasn’t I right not to have come to
Berlin? But
when shall I see you? In the
summer? But why
precisely in the summer, if I shan’t
see you at Christmas?

The second cycle of poems specifically deals with the city of Berlin and Berbely’s visit there in the mid-1990’s.  Each poem in this series is given the name of a specific place or a district in Berlin. Poem titles include, “Naturhistorisches Museum,” Herrmann Strasse,” and Heidelberger Platz.”   The translator, in his afterword, points out that it is in this series of poems where Benjamin’s Arcades Project is heavily alluded to.  The poems are a blend of Borbély’s personal experience of Berlin with that city’s complicated history.  In “Krumme Lanke” he opens with a memory of the “last days of the Reich” and proceeds to tell a story of two soldiers who ignore their superior’s orders and have a clandestine meeting.  The poem then shifts without a transition to the poet’s own memory of walking next to Krumme Lanke:  “Our conversation/ was more of a remember, a/revocation of all that had happened earlier. Like a/ film being played in reverse.”  There is a deep sense of wandering that pervades these poems as he visits train stations, various seedy parts of the city and the natural history museum and uses these places as starting point with which to reflect on Berlin’s past and the poet’s present.

The series of poems entitle “Epilogue” do not appear to have any specific references to famous authors and are the most deeply personal and reflective.  These poems only appear at the beginning and end of the collection and show us a writer who is battling many emotional demons:

[Epilogue II]

For the dead are expected to know the
path
above the precipice of the everyday.
When
they leave the lands of despair, and
depart
towards a kingdom far away and
unknown,
which is like music. Swelling, a solitary
expectation everywhere present. this
music
does not break through the walls. It
taps gently.
It steals across the crevices. Silently it
creeps,
and cracks open the nut hidden deep
within the coffer.

Next, are a series of poems entitled “Fragment” which are all addressed to an unnamed receiver.  There is a deep sense of not only hesitation but also loneliness in these poems.  He begins the first “Fragment” poem:

Yes, I could express it simply by
saying
that our conversation left in me a vacant space. Since then, every
day contains this space.

Of the five different categories of poetry, the “Fragments” are my favorite because Borbély’s  own voice, pain, and struggle come through most clearly.  I found a line from “Fragment III” especially chilling and laden with foreshadowing: “My need is for those who will know/how/all of this will end.”  Borbély tragically takes his own life in 2014at the age of fifty and there are hints throughout his poems that allude to his melancholy.

The final category of poems are called “Allegory” and are a mixture of philosophical observations which still maintain obvious references to Kafka.  The first poem in the collection especially evokes images of Kafka and his complicated relationship with his father:

[Allegory I]

The pierced heart, in which lovers
believe, recalls me to
my task.  Always have I desired

to be led.  My father’s spirit instruc-
ted me
in ruthlessness.  what he missed in
life, he now
in death wished to supplant.  I did
not

find my upbringing to be a comfort.
the spirit of our age is for me
excessively
libertine.  My scorn is reserved for
the weak.

Finally, a word must be said about the afterward which was beautifully written by the translator. It serves as a thorough introduction to Borbély’s life, literary influences, and style of writing but is also a fitting eulogy for this gifted poem whom the world lost too soon.

 

About the Author:
borbelySzilárd Borbély is widely acknowledged as one of the most important poets to emerge in post-1989 Hungary. He worked in a wide variety of genres, including essay, drama, and short fiction, usually dealing with issues of trauma, memory, and loss. His poems appeared in English translation in The American Reader, Asymptote, and Poetry. Borbély received many awards for his work, including the Attila József Prize. He died in 2014.

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Filed under Hungarian Literature, New York Review of Books Poetry, Poetry

Review: Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman by Stefan Zweig

I received a review copy of this title from Pushkin Press via Netgalley.  This novella was published in the original German in 1925 and this English version has been translated by Anthea Bell.

My Review:
twenty-four-hoursStefan Zweig is a master at writing short stories that are full of descriptive details, interesting characters and surprise plot twists.  It is truly amazing that he manages to do this all within the span of 100 pages.  The setting of this short piece is a hotel on the French Riviera where a group of upper class citizens from various countries are vacationing.  A shocking social incident has occurred within their social circle and this scandal has all of the guests arguing and gossiping.

The narrator, who never gives us his name, is staying on the Riveria and interacts with the other guests, incluing a German husband and wife, a “portly” Dane, an Italian married couple, and a distinguished and older English lady.  This group of strangers usually just engage in small talk and mild jokes while eating their meals, but the disappearance of Madame Henriette has disturbed their peaceful routine.  A young, handsome and garrulous Frenchman arrived at the hotel on the previous day and captivated everyone’s attention.  Zweig shows his skill at describing characters with just the right mix of adjectives and metaphors:

Indeed everything about him was soft, endearing, charming, but without any artifice or affectation.  At a distance he might at first remind you slightly of those pink wax dummies to be seen adopting dandified poses in the window displays of large fashion stores, walking-stick in hand and representing the ideal of male beauty, but closer inspection dispelled any impression of foppishness, for—most unusually—his charm was natural and innate, and seemed an inseparable part of him.

The shock comes when Madame Henriette, the wife of a wealthy businessman, disappears with the Frenchman after knowing him for only a couple of days.  All of the guests at the hotel are very quick to condemn and judge Henriette for throwing away her marriage, her children and her reputation.  The narrator is the only person who comes to Henriette’s defense and reminds the guests that it might have been possible that Henriette was caught in a “tedious, disappointing marriage” and thus had a valid reason for running off with a young man who was virtually a stranger.  This heated debate has a profound effect on Mrs. C, the distinguished English lady, who requests a private meeting with the narrator.

The story that Mrs. C. tells the narrator involves an incident in her life when she was forty-two, some twenty years earlier.  The incident had left her so embarrassed and mortified that she never told a word of it to another soul, until now.  Henriette’s impulsive decision to run away with the Frenchman has brought up old memories for Mrs. C. and she wants to unburden her soul from the guilt of her own folly.  Mrs. C. tells the narrator that, as a widow who lost her husband to an unexpected illness, she traveled around Europe while grieving for her beloved spouse.  Alone and miserable, she finds herself in Monte Carlo, one of her husband’s favorite places for entertainment, and meets a twenty-four-year old man with a serious gambling problem.

The events that unfold between Mrs. C. and the gambler bring up feelings of passion, anger, redemption, impulsivity and regret.  I don’t want to give away what happens between the widow and the young man, but I will say that Zweig has a gift for writing shocking and unexpected plot turns.  I never would have guessed the ending to Mrs. C’s story and I was riveted until the very last page of this short book.  Zweig shows us that he is an astute observer of human emotions; love, loneliness, passion and sexual desire can make us lose our minds and do irrational things which are completely out of character.

One final aspect of Zweig’s writing that must be mentioned is his careful attention to detail, even in a short work like this novella.  When Mrs. C. arrives at the casino, she describes the chiromancy—guessing a person’s moves by observing their hands— that her husband had taught her.  This English woman spent hours observing the players’ hands which are much more telling than facial expression.  Zweig writes about Mrs. C’s practice of chiromancy:

All those pale, moving, waiting hands around the green table, all emerging from the ever-different caverns of the players’ sleeves, each a beast of prey ready to leap, each varying in shape and colour, some bare, others laden with rings and clinking bracelets, some hairy like wild beasts, some damp and writhing like eels, but all of them tense, vibrating with a vast impatience.

Zweig’s description of the players via their hands is absolutely fascinating and absorbing and is another surprising gem found within the pages of this short piece.

November is German Lit. Month hosted by Lizzy’s Literary Life and Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.  The full list of reviews for this event can be found here: http://germanlitmonth.blogspot.co.uk/ and on Twitter #GermanLitMonth.

About the Author:
Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from and Unknown Woman and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France, and Germany before settling in Salzburg in 1913. In 1934, driven into exile by the Nazis, he emigrated to England and then, in 1940, to Brazil by way of New York. Finding only growing loneliness and disillusionment in their new surroundings, he and his second wife committed suicide.

Zweig’s interest in psychology and the teachings of Sigmund Freud led to his most characteristic work, the subtle portrayal of character. Zweig’s essays include studies of Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Drei Meister, 1920; Three Masters) and of Friedrich Hlderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, and Friedrich Nietzsche (Der Kampf mit dem Dmon, 1925; Master Builders). He achieved popularity with Sternstunden der Menschheit (1928; The Tide of Fortune), five historical portraits in miniature. He wrote full-scale, intuitive rather than objective, biographies of the French statesman Joseph Fouché (1929), Mary Stuart (1935), and others. His stories include those in Verwirrung der Gefhle (1925; Conflicts). He also wrote a psychological novel, Ungeduld des Herzens (1938; Beware of Pity), and translated works of Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and mile Verhaeren.

Most recently, his works provided inspiration for the 2014 film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

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Filed under Classics, German Literature, Novella, Pushkin Press

Review: Country Life by Ken Edwards

My Review:
countrylifeOne of my favorite things about reading books from small presses are the literary gems that I discover from their quiet and brave authors.  Country Life, the latest novel from Ken Edwards, is one such piece of fiction released by Unthank Books.  It is not surprising that Edwards is also a poet,  has published several volumes of poetry and is also a musician.  The text of Country Life oftentimes reads more like a poem or a song than the prose of fiction.  This is very fitting for Edwards’s main characters who are musicians that like to do interesting experiments with their craft.

The main protagonist of Country Life is twenty-one-year old Dennis Chaikowsky, an unemployed musician who is house-sitting for his vacationing parents.  Dennis lives out in the country, on the coast of a peninsula, in a quiet neighborhood that is overshadowed by a nuclear power station.  The peaceful sounds of the sea and wildlife are disturbed by the lights and noises of the power station.  Dennis is recording all of the sounds of the peninsula and mixing them with his computer to compose what he calls “World Music” in 25 parts.  The landscape and the sounds emanating from it become an integral part of Edward’s deeply poetic text:

The town lay silent and all the little birds.  And from it, we may follow the railway line, venturing over rust and rubble.  And the light from the coast.  Information sent along the pathway to the superior colliculus, responsible for controlling and initiating eye movements, producing visual awareness.  Travail and trouble.  The lorries on the road.  We may suppose you call it territorial behavior.  With auditions, something seemingly miraculous occurs.  The sense of mystery, of a real danger to be faced, of an overwhelming spiritual gain to be won, were of the essential nature of the tale.

Dennis’s closest friend is a neo-Marxist named Tarquin who lives in the city and is a freelance writer for a business magazine.  Even though they appear to be close friends, their arguments about philosophy cause them to be constantly annoyed with one another. One Sunday night when Dennis and Tarquin are roaming around the peninsula and arguing about philosophy, they encounter an old woman who is lost and confused.  The men are very kind to her, especially Tarquin, and they figure out that she has dementia and they take her back to her home in a nearby housing complex.  There is a chilling argument between Dennis and Tarquin about helpless and lonely people like this old woman and what value they have to society.  Dennis has very dark thoughts about harming the woman and says that someone like her, who is making no contributions to society and is a drain on society, is expendable.  But Tarquin believes, in the Marxist tradition, that we are all collectively responsible for one another regardless of what we contribute to society.

While they are taking the old woman home they encounter a musician named Severin and his wife Alison.  There is a sinister aura that surrounds the couple and there are hints that Severin is addicted to drugs and abusive to his wife.  Severin travels for long periods of time with his band, so this allows Dennis and Alison to spend quite a bit of time together and to have a sexual encounter.  Alison seems lonely and for her the sex is an isolated incident, never to be repeated.  But Dennis becomes deeply attached to Alison and wants a long-term relationship with Alison. The best way to describe the plot of this book is a tragicomedy.  Because Dennis is naïve, young, and inexperienced he gets himself into ridiculous situations that have an underlying tone of humor.  But we know from the beginning, from his encounter with Alison, that things are not going to work out for them very happily in the end.  Edwards foreshadows with his poetic prose, “Here the hero sets out on a journey with no clear idea of the task before him.”

I received a review copy of this interesting book from Ben Winston who has started the website called Vibrant Margins.  The site is dedicated to bringing readers the best and most interesting books from small presses.   Readers can order subscriptions of books in various amounts.  I highlighted Ben’s site when I did my post about small presses and how to support them with subscription plans.  I am going to review one more book in the inaugural lineup of Vibrant Margins, so stay tuned for another post which also features a generous book giveaway from Ben.

About the Author:
Ken Edwards was born in Gibraltar in 1950, went to King’s College London in 1968, where he studied under the late Eric Mottram, and lived in London until 2004, when he moved with his wife Elaine to Hastings.

Since 1993, he has run Reality Street, which was formed through the amalgamation of his own Reality Studios imprint with Wendy Mulford’s Street Editions.

Ken has also been involved in composing and performing music since the early 1990s. Currently he plays bass guitar and sings with The Moors and Afrit Nebula, bands he co-founded with Elaine Edwards.

His publications include eight + six (Reality Street), Good Science (Roof Books, New York) Bird Migration in the 21st Century (Spectacular Diseases, Peterborough), and a first novel Futures (Reality Street). Other recent publications are: Nostalgia for Unknown Cities (Reality Street, 2007) and Bardo (Knives Forks & Spoons Press, 2011). A collection of short fictions, Down With Beauty, appeared in 2013, and, as of 2016, he was working on a new novel, The Grey Area.

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Filed under British Literature, Literary Fiction