Book review: The Path to the Spiders’ nest by Italo Calvino

Another Eton mess. Sorry, cheap joke. This short novel by Calvino, his first, was written in 1946, almost immediately after the end of the Italian partisan war. It follows a young (adolescent?) boy, Pin, who gets involved almost by accident in the partisan campaign. Pin is wise beyond his years in some respects, an orphanContinue reading “Book review: The Path to the Spiders’ nest by Italo Calvino”

Supplementary: The Shadow of the Wind (2) – a note about some translation issues.

  Occasionally when reading this novel I came across a few phrases that jarred, and sounded unnatural. I appreciate that translating is a very difficult process, capturing not just the sense of the original but the poetry, the complexity, and the idiomatic phrasing. I also recognise that any awkwardness of phrasing could be deliberate, toContinue reading “Supplementary: The Shadow of the Wind (2) – a note about some translation issues.”

Book review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruix Zafon, translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves

This is one of the novels included in the Eton headmaster’s list I wrote about earlier this month. Let’s start with the nonsensical title, which sets the tone for the rest of the novel. The wind does not have a shadow. Perhaps I am being overly literal, or perhaps that is the point – theContinue reading “Book review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruix Zafon, translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves”

Book review: The Last Days of Adolf Hitler by Hugh Trevor Roper

Probably the last thing the world needs is another book about the Nazis, but I bought this (second hand) at the same time as the Bullock biography, read it, and it seems daft not to review it for risk of repetition. It does overlap with the later chapters of the Bullock book to some extent, andContinue reading “Book review: The Last Days of Adolf Hitler by Hugh Trevor Roper”

Supplementary: A bit more about “A Spot of Bother”

The primary character in Mark Haddon’s “A Spot of Bother”, Douglas Hall, is 57. Much of the “humour” of the novel derives from his unhinged behaviour as he suffers from a nervous breakdown/depressive episode. I wrote yesterday about how this is in poor taste, as is the humour wrung from people’s shock horror reaction toContinue reading “Supplementary: A bit more about “A Spot of Bother””

Book review: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

This was Haddon’s second novel, published in 2006 after his hugely successful “A Curious Incident”. I have reviewed his third novel, “The Red House” on this blog previously, and was optimistic that this would be equally readable. Largely it was – the very short chapters and frequent changes of narrative perspective meant the pages passedContinue reading “Book review: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon”

Book review: Us, by David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s previous two novels, “Starter for Ten” and “One Day” have both been made into moderately successful films, so I don’t think it is being overly cynical to conclude that the setting for this novel – a series of European capitals and art galleries – was at least in part influenced by the author’sContinue reading “Book review: Us, by David Nicholls”