Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars crazy quilt, 2 April 2013
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This review is from: The Last of the Vostyachs (Dedalus Europe 2012) (Paperback)
I was delighted to find several reviews of a translated novel with no detectives in it here, a couple of them very thoughtful and one giving an excellent synopsis. But I'm glad I didn't see them before reading the book because my expectations for it would have been rather disappointed ones . . . and so I'm throwing in tuppence to alert any other odd man out who might find problems with the writing.

Last of the Voystachs held my attention, was occasionally touching, and passages and strands in it might prove memorable. But I wish Marani had written another draft before publishing, one in which he'd managed to achieve consistency of tone or, better still, harmony of tones. It wouldn't be impossible for a writer so good as he to mix humour with pathos, the absurd with the weighty, and violence with nostalgic yearning; here, though, those elements are irregular patchwork rather than coherent whole. And because they were they competed with, even undermined, each other: The compassion Marani makes the reader feel for Ivan is lessened by the attention given the sit-com ex-wife; the wonderful descriptions of nature and weather are weakened by the account of the Laplander's anxious drive to the beach; the thoughtful passages about linguistics lose a lot of their impact when followed by the attempt to get drunk a woman with a hollow leg. Moreover, changes in viewpoint sometimes also have this patchy quality: the account of two professors meeting in a summer cottage, for example, is often awkward because Marani shifts point of view without making clear enough whose viewpoint is being given.

I think this book might have a special appeal to British readers because like many comic British novels it has a far-fetched, very plotty, terribly broad treatment of the humourous. But there's much more to it than the farcical and I'd recommend it to anyone as a book well worth reading: It's a quite good novel that could with more care and better balance have been a very powerful one.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Sep 2013 13:08:02 BDT
gille liath says:
Sincere *and* wholehearted - what's wrong with that? :)

Yeah, I can't deny it was a little worrying - not something you can laugh off. I guess he's decided he's going to dominate the forum at all costs; I'm not willing to expose myself to that degree of malice for something so pointless, and I doubt anybody else would be. I'm not that surprised that he can stoop to such depths, but what is shocking is that Amazon don't seem to want to do anything about it even after (apparently) several reports and emails. Also that there are still one or two willing to side with him.

Anyway, I appreciate you sticking up for me - again! :) I know you'd much rather have kept out, and you're quite right. I never seem to be able to go for long without getting into trouble.

Hope everything's okay with you. I think of you every time I'm cursing some idiot leisure cyclist, hogging one of the winding narrow lanes around here. :)

Posted on 11 Sep 2013 09:05:18 BDT
monica says:
I know you don't like links, but you might well like this one:

http://bluegrassnation.org/link_type/the-difference-between-bluegrass-old-time-and-celtic-bands-now-finally-explained/
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