book review

It’s time I caught up  with my reading.

I’ve been wrapping and addressing prezzies all evening and this will be a welcome respite before I go to bed. My presents are cheaper and flatter than they used to be, to allow for the high cost of mailing. I hate to spend more on the postage than on the gift.

Des anyone remember my enthusiasm over The Door?  That was the novel I read last year, by Magda Szabó, translated from the Hungarian, published by The New York Review of Books. I think that’s right and I can’t tell you who translated it because the person I lent it to hasn’t returned it yet. I will nag her because it’s a keeper.  The New York Times named it one of the ten best books of the year. 

Just recently I read a review of another (earlier,I think) book by Szabó, published by Vintage (Penguin).  They had me at Szabó. Iza’s Ballad is very different, different setting, situation, characters, but fascinating.  At first I didn’t like the translation as well (that’s why I think’t get to r it was someone else who did it), but the characters and the story drew me in.  It’s very real and honest - no- frank - no - plain-spoken. If only the characters could have been that open with each other, but it happens. A daughter can be trying to do he best for her mother and spare her effort, all the while seeking refuge in her own  work and attempts to relax, even while the mother is atrophying from boredom and longing for her past comforting belongings (not possessions -  belongings).  The characters  are interesting  for what they notice or overlook or prefer to to ignore.  

I don’t get to read much outside my own language and culture, my fault, really, I don’t make the effort. But here, when I do, it confirms my belief that people are the same, not boring, but real, recognizable, the same. 

It’s pulling on toward midnight and if  I go past, Il will have missed the date on today’s blog. Leave it at that.


It did go past. Not my fault. I can no longer send a blog from my email to my blog.  Oh dear.