Frans Laarmans, a lowly clerk at an Antwerp shipyard in the 1930s is offered, by a wealthy friend of his brother’s, the opportunity to establish himself as a cheese merchant, dealing in full fat Edam from Amsterdam. Despite his distaste for even the word cheese, and his lack of business acumen, he jumps at the challenge. Immediately, the worthies at his patron’s weekly salon treat him more respectfully although his wife, to whom he is somewhat condescending, queries terms of the densely written contract. But soon Frans is busy choosing a name for his company, installing a telephone, buying headed stationery and sourcing a suitable desk – anything, it seems, to avoid getting to grips with the mechanics of selling cheese.
Let’s take a look at a couple of debut novels with some fine evocations of the natural world and a strong sense of place published by small independent presses based in Scotland.
Not really, of course! But I thought it would be fun to combine my reviews of two novels with “Everything” in the title, especially when both explore the nature of memory and require the reader to work a little harder to figure out who is speaking sometimes. Oh, and they both have blue covers!
As the world goes crazy, I crave, in my reading, not escapism, but a reflection of the flawed complexity of human beings and the things we do to make life that bit harder. But I need to be in safe hands to do so. So thanks to Louise Doughty and Jane Rogers – both established British authors unafraid to tackle difficult subjects – for providing that in their latest novels. Although quite different in their focus, both involve the characters reviewing painful pasts and their own culpability in order that their next mistakes might be that bit smaller.
These two novels explore the impact of two of America’s controversial wars (Vietnam and Iraq) on combatants, observers and their nearest and dearest.
Two short reviews about two short European novels in translation, both shining a light on human disturbance, both of which I can recommend as a good read.
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of two novels.
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I don't post to a schedule, but average around ten reviews a month (see here for an alphabetical list),
some linked to a weekly flash fiction, plus posts on writing and my journey to publication and beyond.
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