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Many and Many a Year Ago Paperback – 3 Aug 2009


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Many and Many a Year Ago + Songs My Mother Never Taught Me + The Sultan of Byzantium
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Product details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Telegram Books (3 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846590671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846590672
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Music-loving aesthete and Turkish air-force pilot, Kemal enters a weird twilight existence in Istanbul after his plane crashes and a secret benefactor sets him up in a grand house in the haunted streets of old Balat. There follows an entertaining, somewhat absurd Hitchcockian comedy-mystery, rich in dropped names and arty jokes. It sends Kemal to the US on the trail of (of all McGuffins) Edgar Allan Poe. For readers here this cheeky romp, briskly translated by Clifford and Selhan Endres, may appeal most for its atmospheric glimpses of an inexhaustible city.' --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

'Adventurous and original...one of the most important Turkish novelists of his generation.' --John Ash

'Altun's prose has a dreamlike urgency; his novel is a major achievement.' --John Asberry

About the Author

Selcuk Altun was born in Artvin, Turkey in 1950. Telegram published Songs My Mother Never Taught Me in 2008. He lives in Istanbul and is a retired banking executive and bibliophile.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By maryleopard on 19 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is neither detective fiction nor a thriller - readers expecting these will be disappointed. It is something of a mystery, something of a travelogue, something of a reflection on life, loves and loss.
The central character is a young man (he seems older than his late 20s)who after an plane crash loses his status as a Turkish airforce star. A mysterious benefactor sends him off on a series of journeys to rural Turkey, Buenos Aires and Boston, during which he encounters a cast of memorable characters who recount their complex, interlocking life stories. It thus gains something of the 'Arabian nights' quality the author has mentioned or, to me, of medieval 'quest' literature. It is highly civilised and literate, with many allusions to Western literature (above all, Edgar Allen Poe) and to classical music, but it is not 'difficult' reading - it bowls along at a brisk pace, and though the geographical settings are skilfully evoked (though I have never been to B. Aires), it does not get bogged down in too much description. How 'profound' it is I am not sure, but the voice is distinctive and I would recommend it as elegant and vivid reading - best done, perhaps, over a short period of time to immerse yourself in the mood, and to prevent confusion among the many names that pass, often briefly, through the pages. I know little of the author and discovered this novel by chance, but will certainly try his work again.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Parr on 15 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a kind of detective story, but really more of a search. The book progresses by storytelling, in the sense that our protagonist encounters people who help him with information in the form of long (and interesting ) stories. The search moves around the world, but the Turkish parts are particularly interesting, and well-done.

It is quite literary (not a bad thing in a book) and books themselves play a part in in this book. Worth a look, especially if you are interested in Turkey.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
interesting character tale 5 Sep 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Within the Turkish Air Force, Kemal Kuray's rapid rise has become legendary as does his even faster fall when a plane engine fails. He knows he is fortunate to be alive, but he has to heal from his injuries, Kemal detests desk duty.

Kemal is assigned to a top secret translation project team where he and technology expert Suat Altan meet and become friends; in spite of ironically Kemal being career military and Suat meeting his military obligation on the assignment. Not long afterward, Kemal learns from Suat's identical twin Fuat that his sibling vanished; but left behind a note for his new friend; provided him an expensive house to live in rent free, and set up a monthly allowance of $5,000 upon his retirement. Kemal struggles with what Suat has done while searching for him around the world and a greater guiding principle in his life.

This an interesting character tale with mystery elements that is more an inner search for being even though the quest takes Kemal into North and South America, Europe and Turkey. With irony, the story line is driven by Kemal's need to know. Although at times the tale seems too clever losing its innocent whimsical charm though regains it too, MANY AND MANY A YEAR AGO is a fine look at finding one's self.

Harriet Klausner
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 3 Sep 2009
By Demir TOSUN - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A voyage to the world of literature, a smart writer who knows hove to make us turn the pages by passion from the first page to the last... Another view to Turkish Istanbul Family Life after Orhan Pamuk's books.
"... not every story you play a part in is going to have a prosaic ending" 30 Nov 2014
By doc peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not sure how or where I was introduced to Selcuk Altun, but I am so happy I was. While _Many and Many a Year Ago_ was a little difficult to get into (the story is a bit circuitous), the rewards for staying with the first 30 pages of the story pay off immeasurably.

After a metoric rise in the Turkish airforce as a fighter pilot (and an equally fall), Kemal's fortunes take an unusual turn: an acquaintance of his during his military service has mysteriously disappeared, leaving Kemal an apartment and stipend. The twin brother of Kemal's friend sets in motion a journey of discovery: of lost loves, of the missing twin, and of the mysterious connection of events in the book with the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

The story is stylistically reminiscent of The Shadow of the Wind - both are beautifully written with a powerful emotional punch at the end of the story. I will be sure to read more by Altun. Highly recommended.
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