[BOOK REVIEW] Women by Mihail Sebastian transl. by Philip Ó Ceallaigh @OtherPress

Women follows Stefan Valeriu who has just finished his medical studies in Paris and who has decided to go to the Alps on a vacation. The reader follows Stefan’s life in which three very different women enter – some as lovers, some merely as, so called, subjects whom Stefan observes. The story is often told from the point of view of Stefan and through him we get a glimpse of divergent relationships.

What initially attracted me when it comes to Women was how the reader who embarks on the journey of reading this novel will experience many stories told by the same man. The stories presented to the reader are about a variety of things – love, passion, regret and most of all life. I especially enjoyed the feel that this novel has because I often read more ‘modern’ fiction and I feel like people [including me] should go back to classics at one point just to cleanse their palette. Women by Mihail Sebastian was such a refreshing read – from the writing to the wonderful translation by Philip Ó Ceallaigh – which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. As I’ve said earlier the novel weaves many themes [empathy, passion etc] and that’s exactly what I found most enjoyable as well as fascinating. The writing is so gorgeous and I found many wonderful quotes about different things that this novel discusses. I especially enjoyed the chapter narrated by/titled Maria as well as the last chapter titled Arabela. The last chapter although short amazed me by how much it actually had in itself – especially the transition from having something in terms of wealth to having nothing and making something out of a bad situation.

‘It terrifies me to think that something can be completely obliterated, that a thing or a person or a feeling or even just something familiar can disappear overnight.’

Women by Mihail Sebastian is truly a rediscovered classic because it offers a gorgeous glimpse of 1930s life and one man’s take on different women who passed through his.

I would like to thank the publisher Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book for free from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Women‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Women‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Women‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Mihail Sebastian was born in Romania in 1907 as Iosif Mendel Hechter. He worked as a lawyer and writer until anti-Semitic legislation forced him to abandon his public career. Having survived the war and the Holocaust, he was killed in a road accident in early 1945 as he was crossing the street to teach his first class. His long-lost diary, Journal 1935-1944: The Fascist Years, was published to great acclaim in the late 1990s. His novel For Two Thousand Years was published in English in 2016.

Advertisements

[REVIEW] A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley @QuercusBooks

I first heard of this book from Instagram and Twitter but mostly from Ana [who works at Quercus] who loved this book a lot. What I found amazing is that Quercus gave a copy of A Different Drummer to their employees and gave them a morning off to read it which shows how they feel about it. I am so glad and grateful I had this book sent to me.

‘I mean it seems horrible that the most you can do for people you love is leave them alone.’

In a fictional town called Sutton, one black man, Tucker Caliban, throws salt on his fields, shoots his horse and cow, sets fire to his house and departs Sutton. Along with him other black towns folk follow. From this point the story is told from white towns folk perspective – whether it be male, female, adult or child.

‘It was that gradually, going back as far as I can remember, they kept saying less and less to each other until the time came – this is the time I’m talking about – that they didn’t say anything at all to each other . . . except maybe at night when I guess married people feel most alone, when they realize how little they have in common, and how much they’ve lost.’

I don’t tend to read these stories often but when I do I really appreciate them because I love learning something new from them. When I say ‘these stories’ I mean stories tackling race issues – where I live there are not many black people and it’s predominantly white but I have always been raised to view everyone as equal which I’m grateful for. I found A Different Drummer to be such an interesting read that I teared up a few times while reading it. The ending of the book left me broken because of how people can be cruel and selfish.  I love the idea of telling the story from white people’s POV because it is very fascinating. I have actually raced through at least 200+ pages in a day and finished the book because I found it to be so compelling and the story-telling to be excellent. William Melvin Kelley shows great writing skills and I would absolutely love to read the rest of his works. The story felt and is relevant today and I think more people should get to know this author better by reading A Different Drummer. This is the kind of book that makes you dissect it after you’ve finished it. I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book except that I found it to be so well written considering that the author was 23 at the time.

Read it.

I would like to thank the publisher Quercus Books (Riverrun) and Ana for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘A Different Drummer‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘A Different Drummer‘ here:

*Purchase ‘A Different Drummer‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

William Melvin Kelley was a prominent African-American novelist and short-story writer. He was educated at the Fieldston School in New York and later attended Harvard University (class of 1960), where he won the Dana Reed Prize for creative writing. William Melvin Kelley has been a writer in residence at the State University of New York at Geneseo and has taught at the New School for Social Research. He currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. In 2008, he won the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award.

Goodreads

[REVIEW] The Parting Gift by Evan Fallenberg @OtherPress

When it comes to books that feature LGBTQ+ themes I’m all ears so getting a chance to read The Parting Gift was very exciting for me. Oh boy, was this book brilliant! I have to mention the hardcover copy and how brilliantly it was designed. Wow, just wow. Well done Other Press!

The story centers around an unknown narrator who upon coming back from Israel crashes in his friend’s apartment and the book is written in a form of one long letter addressed to that friend, Adam. Since our narrator has found a new location to live in he decides to leave an explanation as to why he came to crash at his place for four months. Our narrator tells Adam the story of Uzi, a spice merchant he met during his trip as well as meeting Uzi’s family, of love, of obsession, of dedication and more.

I think that my summary is enough to read before going in and that’s why I kept it short. I’ve no idea what’s happening lately because I’ve been reading fantastic books – let’s not jinx this because I want to read more fantastic books in the future. I read The Parting Gift in a day because it was so fast-paced and so good that I couldn’t look away. I just made breaks to make more cups of tea. Fallenberg writes so masterfully and keeps your attention at all times and the way he crafted this tale was fantastic. I love how he created the characters in it especially our unknown narrator who is so fascinating and whose psyche I loved examining throughout the book. Unknown narrator is so interesting and his actions made me question many things about him. The story is developed very well and there’s no dull moment in it. If I was to compare this book to other ones I would definitely say that it reminded me of Gone Girl in a way – now I know everything is compared to Gone Girl nowadays but this book really left me with that impression. When I reached the end of The Parting Gift I found myself wanting more and exactly this ability the author has to make the reader want more is what amazes me. I honestly don’t know what else to say because I fear I’ll ruin your experience with this book so just do yourself a favour and pick this book up.

The Parting Gift is a fascinating tale of love, paranoia, jealousy and deviance set in a in a small town north of Tel Aviv.

I would like to thank the publisher Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Parting Gift‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Parting Gift‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Parting Gift‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Fallenberg is a graduate of Georgetown University and the MFA program in creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and has lived in Israel since 1985. He is coordinator of fiction for the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University; coordinator of literary translation in the Department of English Literature at Bar-Ilan University; and an instructor in the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at City University of Hong Kong. The recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, Fallenberg serves as an advisor to several literary prizes, including the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. He is the father of two sons.

Find him on: Goodreads

[REVIEW] Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth @PushkinPress

What attracted me to this book was that it’s something different from what I usually read. I wanted to challenge myself and discover a new genre to see how I will perceive it.

The year is 1885, the location Queensland, Australia where racial tensions and land-owning have become big issues. We meet Tommy and his brother Billy who live with their parents and sister Mary on land which their father takes care of, they live a somewhat normal life but all that is about to change when coming from horse-riding they find their parents dead in their own home. Their sister Mary is injured so they decide to take her to John Sullivan, a wealthy land-owner, in seach of help. Both brothers want to find out who murdered their parents and why so they seek help from Sullivan who brings in the mysterious Inspector Noone and they begin their journey.

I have to admit that I have struggled with the first hundred pages of this book because the author went on to describe the lives of both Tommy and Billy into great detail which I didn’t find that necessary – having said that I would’ve cut the book by at least 60-80 pages. I waited for something interesting to happen and by the page one-hundred-and-something I have been revived and sucked into the wild world of both brothers in Queensland. From that point the story became much more interesting but I still felt that it dragged at times with a few details. From page two-hundred the story becomes so compelling that you can’t stop reading because you want to find out more and more. I didn’t feel for most of the characters because they weren’t good people but I did have a soft spot for Tommy, who was kind and intelligent. I love how the author created the ‘drifting apart’ of the two brothers and exactly that enriched the story even more. It’s the 19th century so we see the racial tensions and how awfully people of colour were treated and I have to admit that reading these parts was hard because even though this story is fictional, these things happened in real life. The conclusion to this book was satisfying but a bit melancholic. Even though this is a debut you can see that the author has great skills and great imagination.

Only Killers and Thieves is a story about two brothers who, struck by deaths of their parents, enter a very dangerous world and begin to drift apart from each other set in the 1885’s Queensland, Australia.

I would like to thank the publisher (Pushkin Press) for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘Only Killers and Thieves ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘Only Killers and Thieves‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘Only Killers and Thieves‘ with free international delivery here: 

 

Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family.

In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.

Find him on: Goodreads, Twitter.

[REVIEW] The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm @PushkinPress

Yes, you are seeing correctly! No need to look twice because Breathing Through Pages is back again with a new review! Praise the lord! I do my best to read and review quickly but sometimes mental health and university get in the way. I will do my best to post reviews more frequently like I used to.

I saw this book a while back on Twitter and what first struck me was its cover which looked so interesting. I came across this book again when I requested Only Killers and Thieves and then I took a closer look at it (read the synopsis) and was SOLD. Trust me, once you read the synopsis you’ll want to find out more about it!

The Gradual Dissappearance of Jane Ashland starts with a woman, who we learn is called Jane, who wakes up in a tent somewhere in the Norwegian mountains. The devices she has which can save her from this situation don’t work so she’s left on her own. Who is Jane? What is she doing there all alone? While reading this novel we get her complete story and slowly get to know what happened to her.

As I’ve mentioned we get Jane’s life story, her university years, her marriage, her visit to her Norwegian cousins and more. Houm slowly paints a picture of Jane and her past which give us a more clear look at who she is and what kind of a person she is. We can see that Jane is a troubled individual and the way she expresses herself shows us exactly that –for example:  in the way she approaches relationships. My personal experience with this novel was positive because I love Houm’s writing style and kudos to the translator for bringing this book to life with her skills. What some people might find confusing and/or annoying will be the switching through stories from her past so you might get lost if you don’t pay attention while reading. I found this part a bit confusing at times because of university so I had to read it in smaller chunks. So listen up kids, better take notes while reading a book because with a lot of new information in your head stuff will get lost.

I would definitely recommend this book to other readers because it’s a read that will be up many people’s alleys with it’s intriguing synopsis and the story inside.

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland is a novel you’ll be wanting to analyze after you’ve finished it.

I would like to thank the publisher Pushkin Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written in this review are my own and have not been influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland‘ with free international delivery here: 

Born in Norway in 1974, Houm is an exciting new talent and critics have described him as ‘a Norwegian Don De Lillo’ and Norway’s ‘most American author, in the very best sense’. One critic said the novel as ‘combined surgically precise observations with the drive and ingenuity of the best television series’. He has published two novels which were both critically acclaimed in Norway, and this is the first English publication of his work. He works part-time as an editor in publishing house Cappelen Damm, and lives in Lier with his wife and daughter.

Find him on: Author page

[REVIEW] One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel @GrantaBooks

I first came across One of the Boys earlier this year on Instagram so when I requested a different book to read and review I got sent this one too which I was so happy about because of seeing a lot of praise for it.

One of the Boys is a story about two boys and their manipulative father. After their parents divorce they move with their father to Albuquerque to start a new life free from all the mess of divorce. Both of the children go to school and begin having friendships and doing some sports which they’re excited about but what soon happens is that their father begins closing himself into his bedroom, they hear some strange noises during the night and see different people coming and going out of their house. What was an idyllic place soon becomes a nightmare for both of the children and they begin questioning the choices they made.

I hope I have summarised this book well and that you get the idea of the same. I’ll talk about the father figure first because he was a very interesting character. From the beginning of the book I knew that something was off with the father [well yes, because of the synopsis but also because from the start you gt a taste of who he is]. I am amazed at how parents can be so manipulative towards their children and have no remorse [in this case the father had ‘remorse’ if you could call it that but it still didn’t stop what he was doing] for their actions. The way he punished his children was very cruel to me what left a huge impact was the way he punished his child towards the end of the book. I don’t want to spoil anything but when you read this book you’ll get a better understanding of what I’m saying here. It amazes me that even though this is a story, a fictional one, this kind of behaviour is common in some families. I could go on about this book and as you can see even though it has 160 pages it can be analyzed in so many different ways.

One of the Boys is a very short book but a very impactful one. At one-hundred-and-sixty pages this book takes you on a rollercoaster ride of abuse, manipulation and hope.

I would like to thank the publisher Granta Books for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions written here are my own and have not been influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘One of the Boys ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘One of the Boys‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘One of the Boys‘ with free international delivery here: 

 

Daniel Magariel is an author from Kansas City. His work has appeared in Granta, Lit Hub, Salt Hill, Stop Smiling, and Issue Magazine, among others. One of the Boys, his first novel, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Amazon Best Book of 2017, and was published in twelve countries. He has a BA from Columbia University, as well as an MFA from Syracuse University, where he was a Cornelia Carhart Fellow. He currently lives in New York with his wife.

Find him on: Website

[REVIEW + Q&A] The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara @OneworldNews

The House of Impossible Beauties is one of those books you stumble upon once in a while that leave a mark on you. What first attracted me to this book was the topic it deals with plus it being a LGBTQ book it was an immediate add to my to-be-read shelf. What awaits you inside is a story filled with courage, hope and suffering but above all that what this book carries and showcases the most are love and support between each character in it.

Before reading this book I had to watch Paris is Burning because for some reason I wanted to see what exactly inspired this interesting-looking book. The documentary was truly amazing and this book follows the fictionalized lives of some of the real people from the documentary like Dorian Corey, Angel Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza with appearances by some other characters like Pepper Labeija and many more. It mainly focuses on the life of the House of Xtravaganza : Hector, the father of the house, Angel Xtravaganza who is the mother and Venus, Juanito and Daniel. Each new part begins with a chapter narrated by Dorian Corey with her sass and wisdom.

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to each character and chapter by chapter get to know their upbringing stories as well as their lives in the present.  I loved reading their stories because they show the truth behind being a trans person and the judgment they have to face daily because of being trans. What this book offers is a real look at the 1980s, the HIV crisis and the moral people had back then about things that are somewhat accepted in our society [I say somewhat because there are still parts of the world where people look at someone who’s gay or trans with disgust]. These are the sort of stories that need to be told more often because they are so good and they made me feel closer to the T part of the community. I must say that where I come from trans people as well as gay people are treated very harshly because of the religious beliefs people have but nowadays a lot of young people have no judgement towards the LGBTQ community which makes me happy because future generations will be raised without hate towards people who are different.

What makes this book so special to me are the characters in it. I loved reading about them, hearing their stories, passions and their dreams. Throwing shade is the way they communicate at times and I just loved every bit of shade they threw at each other.

The only thing I found as a con is the use of pronouns because at times they were confusing. Some people may find the use of Spanish in the sentences annoying or too much but to me it made the story much more real.

What can I say? This review is a rollercoaster ride and I hope I presented the book and my thoughts in an interesting way that makes you want to pick up and read this marvelous book.

The House of Impossible Beauties is a gorgeous novel about transgender and gay kids set in the 1980s filled with stories that will make you feel every emotion possible. Once you finish reading this book you’ll want to read it again.

I would like to thank the publisher Oneworld Publications for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own and not influenced in any way.

My rating: 

Add ‘The House of Impossible Beauties ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The House of Impossible Beauties‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘The House of Impossible Beauties‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Centre in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The House of Impossible Beauties is his first novel. He lives in Iowa.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and GoodReads.

 

You can find my Q&A with the author below.
Continue reading