Occupation

Julian Fuks. Charco Press. (150p) ISBN 9781916277878

Occupation

Occupation

I think this may have been one of the books I’ve tried to read the most over the second lockdown, I may have started this six or seven times.

This is not a statement of the quality of the book apart from that the book deserves your full attention and I was unable to give it that until now.

A book like this is so hard to review as Julián is writing about what feels like extremely personal episodes in his own life which are attributed to Sebastián, his alter ego and this can at times feel quite voyeuristic as the near death of his father, his wife’s pregnancy, and the lives of the occupiers all feel so raw.

But this personal also looks at the universal, life, death, relationships, fear, anxiety. Feeling we can all share are explored in an extremely honest manner and the wounds of experience shared for all to see.

Exploring this in small, but punchy chapters gives plenty of opportunity to pause and digest, reread if required, this almost poetic exploration of what it means to be Sebastián at this period in his life.

This is also another book from Charco Press where you don’t ‘feel’ the translator which shows the thought and time this will have taken Daniel Hahn to get right (and another great cover from Pablo Font).

Looking forward to reading ‘Resistance’ now as well.


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Dead Girls

Selva Almada. Charco Press. (170p) ISBN 9781916277847

Dead Girls

Dead Girls

How do you review a book so hauntingly horrific dealing with such a violent subject, do we talk about content, writing style, translation, presentation?

I think we should just start at the beginning, what is the book about? In essence it is about the killings of three young women in Argentina during the 80s. Andrea Danne, Maria Luisa Quevedo, and Sarita Mundin, all brutally murdered and their cases never resolved.

This is not a ‘true crime’ book though, it is an examination of a point in time and place, an examination of the young women, their possible murderers, the society, and the fear that a culture of femicide has on people who live with it every day. None of this is done heavy-handedly, none of it is sensationalised, there is no feeling of being an outsider vicariously enjoying the spectacle of ‘true crime’.

This is all scaffolded by Selva Almada’s hauntingly beautiful writing so sympathetically translated by Annie McDermott.

Selva brings the place and time to mind in such beautiful prose that you almost, not quite, but almost forget about the horror of what you’re reading about, the touches of wind and dust are reminiscent of The Wind That Lays Waste.

I’m so glad that Charco Press sent me a copy of Dead Girls to review because as always they have produced a wonderful book which really strikes home.


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Holiday Heart

Margarita Garcia Robayo. Charco Press. (160p) ISBN 9781999368449
Holiday Heart

Holiday Heart

I had previously read Fish Soup by Margarita Garcia Robayo and thought it was absolutely stunning so was really looking forward to reading this and wasn’t disappointed at all. This sounds simple, and in a way it is but Margarita takes this simplicity and shines it to perfection.

An exploration of a couple, Lucia and Pablo, and their relationship before and after the incident of the Holiday Heart.

The pace of the writing and the development of the characters throughout the unfolding story are excellent, keeping you wanting more and delivering on that throughout the book.

This is a considered development, not a word out of place, characters introduced at the right moment to develop the plot, the environment is used to great effect throughout to really ground you in the place of this story.

There is an underlying ache throughout the whole book, both cultural and personal which impacts on everything the characters do, especially in gender expectations. Though this ache is lightened in place by some humour it is bittersweet.

Another wonderful book by Margarita Garcia Robayo, translated by Charlotte Combe and published by the ever brilliant Charco Press.


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

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You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

August TBR pile

August TBR

August TBR

It’s been a really difficult time for me with reading. I’ve not been able to concentrate on anything fiction for a couple of month, really only able to read books related to my tabletop gaming; Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu…

This has caused me some anxiety as I feel I really should be reading as most of my life revolves around the world of the book and there are so many books in my TBR room that I’m desperate to read, I’ve also got about 10 on NetGalley still to read and everything feels as though it’s piled up and is looming over me, looking at me with slightly judging spines.

Also to take my mind off everything that’s happening I’ve thrown myself into working on Indie Bookshops and my art/photography at Ephemeral.

Yesterday I’ve realised all this and decided to set myself some reading targets for August to encourage me to set aside time to rediscover my love of books, the targets are at least six books and twenty reviews for this blog, to catch up with the massive backlog that I’ve developed on those as well.

At the moment I’m finishing off Lovecraft Country and really enjoying it so far, saw clips of the upcoming TV show and that looked fun as well.

The Promise Witch

The conclusion of Celine Kiernan’s ‘The Wild Magic’ trilogy, this is the book I’ve been looking forward to the most. I want to find out what happens to Mup, Crow, and the people of Witches Borough. A brilliant trilogy that has lots of laughs and adventure.

The Promise Witch 9781406373936 is published by Walker Books

Life & Times of Michael K

I’ve got several Coetzee books in the house, none of which I’ve ever read, always have great intentions to start one. So I asked a couple of people which one I should start with and several suggested this one. It seems a bit serious for this period in time but this may be just what I need.

Life & Times of Michael K 9780099479154 is published by Vintage Books

Here in the Real World

I loved Pax, I cried several times whilst reading Pax. So I’m really looking forward to starting this book from Sara Pennypacker. Sara has a wonderful way of writing relationships, deep but so accessible for children, also the cover by Jon Klassen is brilliant!

Here in the Real World 9780008371692 is published by Harper Collins

SLOOT

SLOOT is another book I’ve heard and seen a lot about, thankfully it is published by Bluemoose Books and I felt no qualms at buying it as I’m collecting their full catalogue, experimental and challenging are always good when combined with great writing and Bluemoose usually get this right.

SLOOT 9781910422533 is published by Bluemoose Books

Holiday Heart

Charco Press is another publisher that has done no wrong in my view and I now almost have their full back catalogue and am going to join their subscription service in 2021 so that I get their books as they come out with no thinking on my part. I have already read Fish Soup by Margarita Garcia Robayo which is a brilliant book and have been looking forward to this for a while now.

Holiday Heart 978199936849 is published by Charco Press

The Sad Part Was

I picked up this book earlier in the year as I was really enjoying reading a lot of small press translated fiction, these presses were taking a lot of chances and producing some of the best writing I’ve read in a long, long time. I had read Tokyo Ueno Station, also published by Tilted Axis Press and was impressed and willing to give other authors from their catalogue a try and this sounded fascinating.

The Sad Part Was 9781911284062 is published by Tilted Axis Press


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Big Bearded Bookseller) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.