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Songs My Mother Never Taught Me
 
 

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me [Kindle Edition]

Selcuk Altun , Ruth Christie , Selcuk Berilgen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description

Review

'Altun offers us three delights for the price of one: a brilliantly edgy, witty thriller that rivals Highsmith; a metaphysical puzzle that Borges would be proud to call his own; and a tale of two assassins that conveys, better than any other novel I have read, the way money talks in Istanbul.' Maureen Freely 'A deft, zinging whodunnit which is also a metaphysical puzzle worthy of the Oulipo group. Altun's prose has a dreamlike urgency; his novel is a major achievement.' John Ashbery

Product Description

After the death of his overbearing mother, the privileged Arda reclines in his wealth, reflecting on his young life, and on the life of his father, the famous mathematician Mürsel Ergenekon, who was murdered on Arda’s fourteenth birthday. While on the other side of the city ‘your humble servant’ Bedirhan has decided to pack in his ten-year career as an assassin. Their two lives become intrinsically bound in this remarkable thriller that takes us through the streets of Istanbul. We learn that Bedirhan in fact killed Arda’s father, and that they share more in common than he or we could begin to imagine. Meanwhile, Selçuk Altun, a former family friend, is playing a deadly game, providing Arda with clues to track down his father’s killer … 

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 461 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Telegram Books (16 Jan 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00753YG7I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #185,601 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hit and miss internaional debut 30 Jun 2009
By Mutt
Format:Paperback
Retired banker and self-confessed bibliophile Selçuk Altun made a belated entry onto the international literary scene in 2008 when this curious little crime thriller, more akin to Orhan Pamuk than Mehmet Murat Somer, became the first of his four publications to date to be translated into English.

The twisted tale alternates between narrators Arda, the recently liberated son of an Istanbul intellectual and an over-bearing mother, and Bedirhan, a worn-out assassin looking for escape, who both fall into the meta-literate manipulations of the vile Selçuk Altun, a Machiavellian puppet master novelist.

Altun confronts the age-old Turkish conflict between secular modernism and Islamic tradition with the psychological outpourings of his two opposing yet conjoined antagonists who spew forth literary references in their metaphysical battle that ends with a somewhat out-of-place tour of Istanbul's forgotten historical landmarks.

While not exactly a crime thriller in the traditional sense the slow and edgy revelations of the multi-layered links between A and B make for fascinating reading but the whole thing feels out of place divorced from the rest of the authors body of work which is all-to-briefly briefly referenced.

Might my father's ghost be watching this postmodern duel which would be ended by numbers?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Feanor
Format:Paperback
This is interesting in many ways. It's not much of a crime novel, although there are several murders. The scion of a wealthy family who has been dominated by his mother all his life rejoices at her death and slowly falls into passivity and ennui. A poor man becomes a hired killer and realises by and by that the assassinations he performs, ostensibly in the service of a higher morality and in the name of the Qur'an, are nothing more than in the cause of selfish vendettas of his masters. Naturally, the paths of both protagonists converge (entirely by means of a deus ex machina, a character in the book who is often called odious and is also named Selçuk Altun). What remains at the end? A rather delicious tour around the wonderful city of Istanbul, many references to mother-hating poetry by various authors, and a state of befuddlement in yours truly's mind.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Turkish Unthriller Fails to Engage 27 Nov 2009
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I read a lot of translated fiction and a lot of crime fiction from around the world, and I regret to report that this semi-thriller from Turkey failed to connect with me. The story unfolds in chapters alternating between the first-person narrations of two very different characters. We meet a 27-year-old heir of a wealthy Turkish family leading s a meandering unfulfilled life of the mind until the death of his overbearing mother is the catalyst for him to dump his fiance and look into the murder of his father a decade and a half earlier. Meanwhile, the second is a poor orphan who grows up to be a moralistic contract killer. It's revealed in the early pages that the latter happens to be the killer of the former's father, and it's clear that the alternating chapters will eventually climax in a face to face meeting between the two.

However, before that happens, there is quite a bit of meandering around the forgotten landmarks, monuments, gravestones, and neighborhoods of old Istanbul, introspection, literary references galore, and even the postmodern appearance of the author as a fairly significant character in the story. The walking tour of Istanbul is likely to be of limited interest to readers who've not been to the city themselves. The introspection of the various characters is suffused with a kind of melancholy heaviness of spirit known in Turkish as "huzun" which weights the whole book down. The literary references (book titles, poems, authors, aphorisms, oh my!) accumulate in such profusion that they become rather obtrusive and overbearing. As for the author's appearance as a character in the story, well, that's either to your taste or isn't. In the end though, while bits and pieces are certainly interesting, there's nothing particularly thrilling about any of it. The author has written several other books, and at least one of these (Many and Many a Year Ago) is now available in English, but my appetite for more certainly wasn't whetted with this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 2 May 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In 2003 in Istanbul, fifty three years old widow Dr. Ada Ergenekon dies from cancer. Her husband renowned mathematician Mursel had been murdered twelve years ago. Their twenty-seven years old only child Arda feels relief to no longer be under the thumb of his powerful mother; one week after her death he pronounces his freedom by ending his engagement to Jale, who was more acceptable by his late mom than him.

On his thirty-seventh birthday, Bedirhan Ozturk gives himself the ultimate present. He decides to retire from his vocation of twelve yeas as a hired killer. He is proud of his accomplishments of only taking out those who committed deadly crimes especially against his religion but managed to remain free due to the political cracks. Bedirhan feels strongly he can quit as he has not taken more than two hits a year.

Arda feels a need to track down his father's unknown killer protected by the religious groups. Bedirhan feels a sense of urgency to track down his unknown handler protected by the religious groups. Their goals will collide.

Several fascinating twists starting with Arda meeting and gaining assistance from novelist Selcuk Altun turn what looks to be a revenge thriller into much more as the audience anticipates the confrontation, but is not sure where the collision will lead to. Rotating perspective between A for Arda and B for Bedirhan, fans learn of each lead character's back-story with further references to literary and musical multicultural Turkey. With each chapter the reader feels increasingly a sense of a surrealistic tour of Istanbul inside a colliding universe that represents modern Turkey's struggle to balance religion and secularism.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a usual thriller but... 14 Feb 2010
By Petek Mete - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I like reading different styles from different authors and usually meet with the author through their fiction. In fact in this book author did put himself in it as a side character; not really liked by the protagonist but hey everyone has an alter ego that hates themselves, finds impossible to live with.
There is more than one reason why you wouldn't like this book. Too many references, too many name droppings and the two main characters does not even meet till the end and for some people that meeting is short (at least for my father it was). In order to be perfectly objective, if you take out the fact that I am Turkish, I might have not enjoyed this book. If one must give an example, the references were made to the old Istanbul requires at least some faint knowledge of them.
However the story line grabs the reader without much effort, and in a way all these references makes the reader feel like an observer rather than connecting with the characters. Probably that will draw more audience in US, since you cannot expect someone to feel connected with any one of the main characters, who live in Turkey and have distinctively different backgrounds than your average Joe.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Turkish Unthriller Fails to Engage 27 Nov 2009
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read a lot of translated fiction and a lot of crime fiction from around the world, and I regret to report that this semi-thriller from Turkey failed to connect with me. The story unfolds in chapters alternating between the first-person narrations of two very different characters. We meet a 27-year-old heir of a wealthy Turkish family leading s a meandering unfulfilled life of the mind until the death of his overbearing mother is the catalyst for him to dump his fiance and look into the murder of his father a decade and a half earlier. Meanwhile, the second is a poor orphan who grows up to be a moralistic contract killer. It's revealed in the early pages that the latter happens to be the killer of the former's father, and it's clear that the alternating chapters will eventually climax in a face to face meeting between the two.

However, before that happens, there is quite a bit of meandering around the forgotten landmarks, monuments, gravestones, and neighborhoods of old Istanbul, introspection, literary references galore, and even the postmodern appearance of the author as a fairly significant character in the story. The walking tour of Istanbul is likely to be of limited interest to readers who've not been to the city themselves. The introspection of the various characters is suffused with a kind of melancholy heaviness of spirit known in Turkish as "huzun" which weights the whole book down. The literary references (book titles, poems, authors, aphorisms, oh my!) accumulate in such profusion that they become rather obtrusive and overbearing. As for the author's appearance as a character in the story, well, that's either to your taste or isn't. In the end though, while bits and pieces are certainly interesting, there's nothing particularly thrilling about any of it. The author has written several other books, and at least one of these (Many and Many A Year Ago) is now available in English, but my appetite for more certainly wasn't whetted with this one.
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