Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Five crime fiction books, all different

December 21, 2022 4 comments

Friendship Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle (2018) French title: L’amitié est un cadeau à se faire. Translated by Simon Baril

This is my second book by William Boyle after The Lonely Witness and he’s definitely an author I want to keep reading.

Friendship… is set in Brooklyn, in the Bronx and upstate New York. It all starts when Rena Ruggiero, the widow of a mafia gangster, kicks her eighty years old neighbor and thinks that she killed him as he lays unresponsive on her floor. High on Viagra, he tried to rape her.

Rena takes his car and drives to the Bronx where she wants to stay with her estranged daughter Adrienne and rekindle her relationship with her granddaughter Lucia.

She arrives there just as Richie Schiavano decides to steal money from a mafia gang.

Rena and Lucia find shelter at Adrienne’s neighbor’s house. Lacey, ex-porn star known as Lucious Lacey, welcomes them in her home and they end up fleeing the Bronx with the mafia on their tail.

The book takes a delightful Thelma and Louise turn and the reader is in for a fantastic ride.

William Boyle has a knack for a crazy plot, for attaching characters and an fantastic sense of place. A wonderful discovery by Gallmeister.

Alabama 1963 by Ludovic Manchette & Christian Niemiec (2020). Not available in English.

This is a French crime fiction novel set in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, just before President Kennedy was assassinated and right in the middle of the Civil Right movement.

Girls are rapped and murdered. Bud Larkin, a white PI, former police officer, is volunteered to help a black family find out who killed their daughter. His former colleagues also hire him a black cleaning lady, Adela Cobb. In segregated Alabama, she’ll be an asset to Larkin as black people talk to her but not to him.

As other murders happen, Bud and Adela get more and more anxious to find out who’s behind these crimes. And if this adventure can help them sort out their lives, all the better.

I’m always a bit suspicious about books written by French writers and set in America, written as if they were American writers. This one was OK, and the fact that the two authors’ day job is to translate American TV series into French probably helps writing a convincing story. They know all the codes.

I had a good time reading it, I got attached to Adela and Bud.

As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson (2012) French title: A vol d’oiseau. Translated by Sophie Aslanides.

This is the 8th volume of the Walt Longmire series. I read them in English now since the French paperbacks are no longer published by Gallmeister but by Pocket. The books aren’t as nice, so, the original on the kindle is better.

This time around, Caddy, Longmire’s daughter is getting married in two weeks on the Cheyenne reservation when Walt discovers that she no longer has a venue.

He’s on his way to visit another location with his friend Henry Standing Bear when they see a woman fall from a cliff and die. She had her six-month old baby in arms when she fell. The baby miraculously survived.

Walt Longmire will mentor the new chief of the Tribal Police, Lolo Long during this investigation. She’ll learn a few tricks, soften some hard edges and see how to navigate the tricky relationship with the FBI. Very useful skills if she wants to keep her job or stay alive while doing it.

As always, Craig Johnson delivers. The plot is well-drawn, a part of fun is introduced with Lolo Long’s blunders and the relationship between Walt and Caddy is lovely. This volume is set on the Cheyenne reservation and it rings true, at least to my French ears.

Craig Johnson doesn’t disappoint and I’m looking forward to reading the ninth book.

Sœurs de sang by Dominique Sylvain (1997, reviewed by the author in 2010). Not available in English

I’ve read several books by Dominique Sylvain. Kabuchiko, set in Japan, Les Infidèles and Passage du Désir set in Paris. The three books are different and Soeurs de sang is closer to Passage du Désir than to the other ones.

We’re in Paris. Louise Morvan is a PI who is hired by Ana Chomsky to find a former lover that she spotted as a character in a video game. Louise starts investigating, discovers that he’s Axel Langeais, one of the creators of the game.

It could stop here but Victoria Yee, the lead singer of the group Noir Vertige is murdered on Axel’s barge, in front of his sister Régine. Louise embarks on a murder investigation that will lead her to Berlin and Los Angeles and into the strange artistic world of the Victim Art.

I read this with pleasure, a novel set in a very peculiar milieu, the one of extreme art and I was curious to see how the story would unfold.

Ames animales by JR Dos Santos (2021). Not available in English.

This was one of our Book Club choices and it was a promising read.

It’s a Portuguese novel set in Lisbon. The main character is Tomas Noronha whose wife Maria Flor is involved with a charity that works on animal intelligence. When the director of this charity is murdered, she’s the last one to have seen him and is accused of murder.

Chapters alternate between the crime plot and flash backs where the militant and director is enlightening Maria Flor about the latest researches about animal intelligence. These lengthy explanations were too didactical for me, cut the flow of the crime investigation and I lost interest.

I abandoned the book. I don’t read crime fiction to read scientific lectures, there are radio podcasts for that. A missed opportunity.

I have also read The Hot Spot by Charles Williams but this one is so good that it deserves its own billet.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

October 26, 2013 23 comments

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín 2009.

book_club_2Brooklyn is our Book Club choice for October. Eilis is in her early twenties, lives in Enniscorthy in Ireland with her mother and her sister Rose. We are in the 1950s, jobs are scarce in her town, her two brothers have already gone to England to work. While Rose is outgoing and self-confident, Eilis is shy and reserved. She doesn’t stand up for herself and lets other people decide for her what is best for her future. This allows Miss Kelly to hire her as a shop assistant when Eilis is qualified as a bookkeeper. This is also why Rose, her mother and Father Flood manage to ship her to Brooklyn. Father Flood is an American-Irish priest who immigrated to Brooklyn. He finds Eilis a job at Bertocci’s, a shop that sells woman’s clothes and lodgings at Mrs Keroe’s. The plans are made, Eilis has to go.

Brooklyn relates Eilis’ story, her life in Enniscorthy, her departure from Ireland and her arrival in Brooklyn and her new start in the USA. I enjoyed the descriptions of her first year in the USA. She had to adjust to a new life, a new town, a new job, a new home, a new climate. She felt homesick in the beginning and Father Flood helped her get into night classes for bookkeeping.

She was nobody here. It was not just that she had no friends and family; it was rather that she was a ghost in this room, in the streets on the way to work, on the shop floor. Nothing meant anything. The rooms in the house on Friary Street belonged to her, she thought; when she moved in them she was really there.

Coibin_Brooklyn_FrenchI liked reading about the atmosphere in her neighbourhood. Colm Tóibín pictures how the Irish and Italian immigrants bond and are allowed to mix because they have the same religion. They meet in balls and when Eilis starts dating Tony, I enjoyed reading about the outings, the days at the beach and all the social codes around dating at the time. Father Flood takes good care of the new immigrants and Eilis was welcome. He helped her when she felt homesick, Miss Fortini at Bartocci’s showed empathy when Eilis needed some. There was a sense of community and solidarity, as proved by the organisation of Christmases for people whose family was abroad.

As a character, Eilis is a curious mix of strength and weakness. In appearance, she’s pliable but she still tries to do what she wants. She doesn’t see herself very well. She feels plain and average but Tony doesn’t see her that way and the easiness with which she studies bookkeeping and commercial law in the State of New York led me into thinking she’s intelligent. Her intelligence isn’t flamboyant but she has a mind of her own, she’s a good judge of characters and doesn’t derive from her course of business when she has a goal. Her weakness is that she wants to please the people who like or love her. She can’t say no to someone important to her. So she can’t say not to her mother, her sister or Tony.

We see the events through Eilis’s eyes. Colm Tóibín recounts minutely what goes through her mind. We see her fears, her hesitations and her desire to stay in the shadows. She doesn’t like being on stage and she shies away from situations where she could be questioned or singled out or where she could have to justify her actions. It results in her keeping secrets from her relatives and untold secrets are more and more difficult to reveal as time goes by. This tendency puts her in difficult situations. She also tends to look the other way when something unpleasant happens. It’s like she imagines it will disappear if she doesn’t pay attention to it.

The best parts of Brooklyn were the style and the descriptions of Eilis’ feelings as an immigrant. She didn’t leave Ireland because she wanted to. Her mother and sister chose for her and she couldn’t say no, couldn’t find worthy arguments for her to stay. As a consequence, the fear of the unknown isn’t tamed by the excitement of finally doing something she’s dreamt of. She’s terrified to go and see her life take another course than the one she had always imagined:

She had expected that she would find a job in the town, and then marry someone and give up the job and have children. Now, she felt that she was being singled out for something for which she was not in any way prepared, and this, despite the fear it carried with it, gave her a feeling, or more a set of feelings, she thought she might experience in the days before her wedding, days in which everyone looked at her in the rush of arrangements with light in their eyes, days in which she herself was fizzy with excitement but careful not to think too precisely about what the next few weeks would be like in case she lost her nerve.

I enjoyed the style both easy to read and beautiful in its quiet precision but I have reservations about the love story. I’m usually good public for this but I found it took too much space in the novel when it was not the most original quality of the book. However, I’m grateful that Colm Tóibín avoided the pitfall of Irish miserabilism. Yes life was difficult, yes, lots of people had to find a job abroad but his picture of Enniscorthy also includes happiness and warmth of living at home, where one has their bearings.

For other reviews, see Max’s here  this one by John Self And this one at the Guardian’s

Next month, our Book Club reads Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov and as always, you’re welcome to read it along with us.

Literary Potpourri

A blog on books and other things literary

Adventures in reading, running and working from home

Liz Dexter muses on freelancing, reading, and running ...

Book Jotter

Reviews, news, features and all things books for passionate readers

A Simpler Way

A Simpler Way to Finance

Buried In Print

Cover myself with words

Bookish Beck

Read to live and live to read

Grab the Lapels

Widening the Margins Since 2013

Gallimaufry Book Studio

"It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent--lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It's as simple as that." -- Tove Jansson

Aux magiciens ès Lettres

Pour tout savoir des petits et grands secrets de la littérature

BookerTalk

Adventures in reading

The Pine-Scented Chronicles

Learn. Live. Love.

Contains Multitudes

A reading journal

Thoughts on Papyrus

Exploration of Literature, Cultures & Knowledge

His Futile Preoccupations .....

On a Swiftly Tilting Planet

Sylvie's World is a Library

Reading all you can is a way of life

JacquiWine's Journal

Mostly books, with a little wine writing on the side

An IC Engineer

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Pechorin's Journal

A literary blog

Somali Bookaholic

Discovering myself and the world through reading and writing

Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Supporting and promoting books by Australian women

Lizzy's Literary Life (Volume One)

Celebrating the pleasures of a 21st century bookworm

The Australian Legend

Australian Literature. The Independent Woman. The Lone Hand

Messenger's Booker (and more)

Australian poetry interviews, fiction I'm reading right now, with a dash of experimental writing thrown in

A Bag Full Of Stories

A Blog about Books and All Their Friends

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

madame bibi lophile recommends

Reading: it's personal

The Untranslated

A blog about literature not yet available in English

Intermittencies of the Mind

Tales of Toxic Masculinity

Reading Matters

Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction

roughghosts

words, images and musings on life, literature and creative self expression

heavenali

Book reviews by someone who loves books ...

Dolce Bellezza

~for the love of literature

Cleopatra Loves Books

One reader's view

light up my mind

Diffuser * Partager * Remettre en cause * Progresser * Grandir

South of Paris books

Reviews of books read in French,English or even German

1streading's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tredynas Days

A Literary Blog by Simon Lavery

Ripple Effects

Serenity is golden... But sometimes a few ripples are needed as proof of life.

Ms. Wordopolis Reads

Eclectic reader fond of crime novels

Time's Flow Stemmed

Wild reading . . .

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

BookManiac.fr

Lectures épicuriennes

Tony's Reading List

Too lazy to be a writer - Too egotistical to be quiet

Whispering Gums

Books, reading and more ... with an Australian focus ... written on Ngunnawal Country

findingtimetowrite

Thinking, writing, thinking about writing...

%d bloggers like this: