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122. Books Bought & Read, July 2014…

122. Books Bought & Read, July 2014…

Books Bought, July 2014…

Non-Fiction,’ Chuck Palahniuk

A Casa Velha,’ (‘The Old House’), Machado de Assis

Coisas Frágeis 2,’ (‘Fragile Things’), Neil Gaiman

Matteo Perdeu O Emprego,’ Gonçalo M Tavares

A Little Larger Than The Entire Universe: selected poems,’ Fernando Pessoa

50 Contos,’ (‘Fifty stories’), Machado de Assis

O Gato Malhado E A Andorinha Sinhá,’  Jorge Amado

 

Fantoches,’ (Puppets), Erico Verissimo

Diálogos Impossíveis’, (‘Impossible Dialogues’),  Luís Fernando Veríssimo

Os Lusíades,’ Luís Vaz de Camões (10-volume illustrated edition)

A Bagagem do Viagante,’ (‘The Traveller’s Baggage), José Saramago

Manual de Pintura y Caligrafía,‘ (‘Manual Of Painting And Calligraphy), José Saramago

Compêndio para uso dos pássaros – poesia reunida, 1937-2004,’ (‘Compendium For The Use Of Birds – poetry compilation, 1937-2004’), Manuel de Barros

 

Books Read, July 2014…

Non-Fiction,’ Chuck Palahniuk

Diálogos Impossíveis,’ (‘Impossible Dialogues), Luis Fernando Verissimo

O País Do Carnival,’ (‘The Country Of Carnival’), Jorge Amado

Nocturno Hindu,’  (‘Indian Nocturne’), Antonio Tabucchi

The Cuckoo’s Calling,’ RobertGalbraith, aka J.K.Rowling

Matteo Perdeu O Emprego,’ Gonçalo M Tavares

A Casa Velha,’ (‘The Old House’), Machado de Assis

Coisas Frágeis 2,’ (‘Fragile Things’), Neil Gaiman

Pensageiro Frequente,’ (excellent but untranslatable pun on ‘frequent flyer’  which would be ‘Passageiro Fequente,’ but here using the word ‘thinker in place of ‘passenger’ as the two words are very similar in Portuguese, making it something like ‘Frequent Thinker.’ Only funnier in Portuguese), Mia Couto

O Mandarim,’ Eça de Queirós

 

A dozen new books bought, and one short of that read: THAT’S more like it!

With the World Cup ending on July 11th, (in case you were either living under a rock, uninterested in football, or Brazilian and trying desperately to pretend that the tournament had ended after the Quarter Finals), I was left with two weeks to enjoy the sun, sand, coconuts and caipirinhas of an east coast Brazilian beach.

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I delved into Brazilian literature, plowing through some excellent short stories by 19th century master Machado de Assis, (quite enjoyable), and some short essays by modern journalist Luis Fernando Verissimo, (ditto: to give you an idea of the vibe of this short story compilation, the first tale featured Batman and Dracula both trying to get euthanised at a Swiss clinic: one because he’s old and too weak to be a bat fighting crime, the other because he’s bored of being an ageless bat killing people…)

The highlight, though, was finally finding something by Gonçalo M Tavares, a young Portuguese author beloved by my beloved José Saramago, (the latter’s ‘He will win the Nobel Prize for Literature before too long’ quote is all over most of the former’s books).

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It was marvellous.

Matteo Lost His Job‘ was experimental and playful, linking a series of very short but beautifully crafted pictures of everyday yet strange people, in everyday yet outrageous situations, in a similar way to David Mitchell does in his masterful ‘Cloud Atlas.’ I can’t wait to find, buy, and devour some more by him to see if he can live up to the hype that I (and Saramago) have created for him.

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I was excited to find an unbelievably beautiful collection of ten illustrated volumes of the Portuguese epic poem ‘The Lusiads‘ in my favourite market, as well as the complete works of Brazilian poet Manuel de Barros who had been recommended to me by a new Brazilian friend.

However, since I don’t have several thousand spare €uros to spend on excess baggage allowance, my entire Portuguese-language book collection is currently being housed by my fantastic Czech-Argentina co-worker in an Alfama apartment in Lisbon.

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I will be back soon to reclaim it, to read it, and to let you know what’s good…

 

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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in BOOKS

 

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67. ‘Back Story,’ David Mitchell…

67. ‘Back Story,’ David Mitchell…

Back Story,’ David Mitchell

First of all, I must point out, (although not as often as he must have to), that this David Mitchell is not the David Mitchell who is the author of some of my favourite books of recent years, from ‘Cloud Atlas‘  to ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,’ (reviewed here last week). He is instead the deadpan British comedian who has decided to emulate his literary namesake by writing an autobiography. About himself. Naturally. Not about the other David Mitchell. That would be a biography.The_Thousand_Autumns_of_Jacob_de_Zoet_(cover)

They are, separately, two people I enjoy immensely, one for his constant tinkering with literary conventions and highly readable writing style, the other for his grumpy comic persona in everything from the cult British comedy series ‘Peep Show’ to his appearances on TV game-shows and news panels. Would I want to see David Mitchell the author do a stand-up set? That would depend on how funny he is. Is David Mitchell the comedian a good writer? Hmmmmm…

Unless you know his work, or are particularly fond of one man’s views on the trivia of West London, (the autobiography is (very) loosely hung on a frame of the author wandering around the area he lives trying to work off severe back problems), this book probably won’t mean much to you. For me, it was vaguely entertaining, mainly for the insight it gave into the idea of comedy persona being different from comedians’ true personalities, and for the insights it offered into the making of the aforementioned ‘Peep Show’ which, for years, was one of the funniest (and most under-rated) shows on TV.

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David Mitchell describes himself at one point in his autobiography as ‘a conservative who thinks the world needs to change…’ a wonderfully Mitchellian description which is the driving force behind so much of his now-famous rant-based comedy. He likes things the way they are. But he also hates a lot of things the way they are.

“I liked chocolate, just nowhere near as much as toast…”

he writes at one point, reminding me of one of my favourite ever comedy scenes featuring  Mitchell and his co-japester Robert Webb in the second ever episode of ‘Peep Show.’

Mitchell on comedy:

“I concluded that everyone loved and admired comedy, however stern or important they might seem.

I was wrong about that. Lots of people don’t particularly like comedy. Some really have no sense of humour at all – they genuinely don’t find things funny. Consequently they often laugh a lot in the hope that they won’t be found out – that, by the law of averages, they’ll be laughing when a joke happens…”

Mitchell‘s irreverence led to one of those moments when I nearly choked with laughter, before realising that this probably makes me a really, really bad person when reading the following:

“The other major change our family underwent while I was at New College School was Grandpa dying. I was ten. In some ways, this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. It’s definitely the worst thing that ever happened to him…”

Finally, Mitchell on foodies’ attempts to make the less foodie try new things, a scenario which I experienced more or less daily for the first 16 years of my life:

“The culinarily adventurous often deploy the phrase ‘You don’t know what you’re missing’ to try and persuade me – but I just think: ‘Well, that’s all right then’ Imagine if I’d never tried alcohol and didn’t know what I was missing there – well, that would be brilliant!…I’m very glad I don’t know what I’m missing where cocaine’s concerned…”

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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in BOOKS

 

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