Happy Wednesday everyone! By the way, how are you enjoying 2022 so far? I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year.
As it is a Wednesday, it is time for another WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
For May, I have read purely works of European literature. This journey has brought me to various parts of the continent, from Spain to Italy to Sweden to Albania. I am currently in the United Kingdom, thanks to P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley. This is my second novel by the mystery writer although it has been over a decade since I read my first. It was for this reason that I decided to read this book over Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Since I started reading it late today – I finished Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s The Little Town Where Time Stood Still earlier today – I have only finished one chapter. However, this chapter was enough to catch my attention. I didn’t realize that it involved the characters from Jane Austen’s popular and timeless novel, Pride and Prejudice. It escaped me that Pemberley was the estate of the Darcy’s! Nonetheless, this only piqued my interest further. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. I will share more of my impression in this week’s First Impression Friday update.
What have you finished reading?
I didn’t realize that, in the past week, I was able to complete three books. I guess I was too preoccupied because I just started my new job. Nevertheless, I am happy I was able to complete three books, the first of which was my current read in last week’s WWW Wednesday Update, Javier Marías’s Berta Isla. My interest in the Spanish writer was piqued after he was recommended by a fellow book reader. However, it was another book that he recommended: A Heart So White. Berta Isla was the first title available so I obtained a copy of it. It was also a way of preparing myself for his most popular work. Berta Isla had an interesting premise. The titular Berta Isla was the wife of Tom, or Tomás, Nevinson. Set during the height of the twilight years of the Cold War, Tom secretly worked for the British intelligence, a fact he kept a secret from his Madrilenan wife. Tom was often away and Berta was left to look after their children. The landscape started to change when Tom’s two worlds started to collide, pushing Berta to ask the important questions I liked the premise but I found the book too long. I loved the discourses on the double life Tom led and the hypocrisy of governments but the repetitiveness left me looking for something more concrete. There was also very little action as the story was built around the discussion between husband and wife.
From Spain, my reading journey took me to Central and Eastern Europe through controversial but highly heralded Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s The Accident. After The General of the Dead Army, a book I read back in early 2019, this is my second novel by Kadare and one that I am looking forward to because of the impression The General of the Dead Army left on me. It was no secret that I had high expectations of The Accident. The titular accident happened on Marker 17 of the airport autobahn in Vienna. Two Albanian passengers, later identified as Besfort Y and his partner Rovena St., perished while the taxi driver survived but sustained serious injuries. After several interrogations, the only thing that left an impression on the driver was the couple kissing moments before their fateful death. But since both characters worked for critical government functions, the Serbian, Montenegrin, and eventually Albanian governments started getting involved. The novel was built around a belated interrogation of an unnamed Albanian “researcher-cum-investigator”. The writing was fine but the story was a little confusing. It seemed to point at a conspiracy but none of that materializes. The ending was also ambiguous and none of the mysteries was solved.
My three-book escapade in the past week landed me in the Czech Republic for the second time this month with Bohumil Hrabal’s The Little Town Where Time Stood Still. The first Czech writer I read this month was Milan Kundera, who is slowly growing on me. Interestingly, it was Kundera who called Hrabal one of the greatest Czech writers. This only made me want to read Hrabal’s work more. I recall buying The Little Town Where Time Stood Still simply because it was published by the New York Review of Books; I had very little iota on what the book was about and I have never encountered Hrabal previously. This being said, I am glad I read the book, which was divided into two sections. The novel was basically two novellas. The first part, Cutting It Short, commenced in 1930s Czechoslovakia and was narrated by Maryška, the flamboyant wife of Francin, who manages the local brewery. There was a strong-headedness about her that made her stand out. She was bold and a strong drinker. The second book, which had the same title as the book, moved forward eight years later. Maryška and Francin were finally able to have a child, a boy whose perspective moved the second part forward. It was an interesting study of the European countryside, with particular emphasis on how the dawn of communism started to alter the landscape.
What will you read next?
For the nth week in a row, I am listing French Michel Houellebecq’s Atomised as a book I am planning to read next. I have been putting it aside as my mind kept on changing. I do want to read it and maybe this time around, I just might take on this book with an unusual title that evoked images of science. I am looking forward to what it has in store. While Houellebecq is an unknown quantity, at least from my perspective, Italian writer Umberto Eco is a familiar writer. I have already read two of his works, starting with Baudolino back in 2015 and The Name of the Rose in 2017. Since a long time has passed since I read my last work by the renowned semiotician and historian, I am lining up The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. I was actually planning to read it after Hrabal’s book but then it would be the third book by an Italian writer I will read this month. I am also looking at reading Tarjei Vesaa’s The Ice Palace. I have just learned that Tarjei Vesaa is a legendary Norwegian writer and that The Ice Palace is often considered his best work. I am not sure if I have read the work of any Norwegian writer before, the same with Finnish writers.
That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!