Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Doll's Insomniac Criminal Reading: Maria Angelica Bosco and Frederic Dard

Pushkin Press have been releasing retro-crime in their Vertigo imprint. Some of the books are new translations of crime classics and some are retro-set as in Martin Holmen's "Clinch".

My first read was "Death Going Down" by Argentinean crime writer Maria Angelica Bosco. My fault was not to notice her billing as the "Argentinian Agatha Christie". I am not an Agatha Christie fan it has to be said.

In postwar Buenos Aires or to be more precise, an apartment block in postwar Buenos Aires... the police set out to find the killer (or was it suicide?) of a beautiful blonde whose body is found in the lift, late one night. (Hence the title - ahem.) A tight cast of expatriate residents, some with shady pasts, provide the gene pool of suspects for the diligent police. The novel reads well in its translation by Lucy Greaves and cannot help but feel authentic and atmospheric as it was written postwar and published in 1954.

I blame my current sleeping pattern for the failure of this book with me - that and my aversion to strict whodunit form - which meant that I just could not get a grip on this set of suspects (the residents of the top floor of the murderous apartment block) whose names swiveled around in my brain as I limped along at a couple of pages per night. But if you are a period whodunit fan you could well love it.

I moved on to top French 1950s crime master Frederic Dard. Another slim book from the Pushkin Vertigo label but this one I devoured in one sitting. "C'est merveilleux, n'est-ce pas?" Another way to ruin your sleeping pattern. But it was worth it.
Below is my Goodreads review. I shall try for more Dard without a doubt.

Crush (Pushkin Vertigo)Crush by Frédéric Dard
Translated from the French by Daniel Seton
Published Pushkin Press in their Vertigo imprint, paperback, October 2016.

A grim industrial new town in 1950s France. Seventeen year old Louise becomes fascinated by a wealthy American couple, the Roolands, whom she spots on her daily walk home from her factory job. In fact it is the car that catches her eye first; a beautiful Dodge, leather seats and chrome. The couple sit on their swing seat in front of their house, casually eating and drinking in a way that no French family would. One day Louise marches up to them and asks for a job as their maid. Nonplussed they explain that they don't need one but eventually they change their minds. Louise insists on becoming a live-in maid and begins to inhabit her dream. As the darker details of their lives emerge nothing warns any of them of what is to come.

Dard narrates this story through the voice of the passionate young Louise, desperate to escape her own poverty and troubled family and to join this apparent haven of comfort and wealth. A wonderfully concise yet gripping thriller, Dard not only lays out a psychological portrait of a troubled marriage but the collision path between such a marriage and Louise's own obsessive needs. It is a collision which leads us to wonder about the possibility of murder and a murderer. Don't blink at the end or you may miss a surprise kick.

I read this book (translated into English by Daniel Seton) in one sitting. Great stuff.

View my Goodreads books

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Wild Works And "Wolf's Child" At Trelowarren This Summer

Just like the Doll and The Old Man, I like a bit of theatre. And I like my theatre a bit off the wall and magical. Cornwall is not overflowing with good theatre spaces and this forces local theatre groups to be more... er ... creative in their performance strategies. So - small venues, temporary venues, unusual venues, the streets themselves...anywhere they can set up and go.

Wild Works is a Cornwall-based theatre group which performs their landscape or site-specific projects all over the world. I don't think I've seen any of their work yet but I found this preview trailer on Cornish Stuff  previewing their "Wolf's Child" which they developed for Felbrigg Estate in Norfolk and which they are due to bring to the Trelowarren Estate near Helston in July 2017.

That's within reach for me so I shall get my waterproofs out and wait with anticipation.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A New Day - A New Doll

Let me introduce myself ... Grey Doll calls me Bike Girl. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. But those who follow this blog may have seen me before: perhaps on my bike or with my trusty Dog. Often I'll be sharing a bottle of red with The Doll ... like in Mrs D's film "Seating the Guests". Remember that? How could you forget.

So why am I here? Frankly, I told The Doll and The Old Man that if they are reduced to telling the world which flavour of ice cream they last ate... they may as well go to Instagram and get on with it. Besides which, The Doll's foot fell off whilst she was attempting to pose for a photo.

Time for you both to take a break, I said. Let's face it. You are old and tired. Go away and see if you can recuperate. Leave the blog to me for a while. 

So here I am. One hundred percent.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Ice Cool

The Old Man is very fond of ice cream. Any time. Any where. This is what a dear niece marveled at when I told her we had been walking about in the teeth of a gale at a nearby harbour, all the while The Old Man enjoying a huge vanilla ice cream. I let him solo on that one and struggled to work out the identity of a small plump seabird, paddling out past the fishermen's buoys and pausing to wash itself while the waves did rise and the wind did blow. (Manx Shearwater??)

Whatever. So fond of the stuff is The Old Man, he has finally given in and bought an ice cream machine. And so now he experiments. Well, within limits, this is a man who buys vanilla wherever he goes. But the other weekend he did make a very excellent coffee ice-cream, one where you actually heat up the milk with the ground coffee in it before you strain that off and proceed to custard-making stage. It tasted very good but had the bonus effect of keeping The Old Man up all night with eyes on stalks. I shall remember that should I ever need to lash him to the mainmast by way of look-out duty.

I don't think we are getting coffee ice cream this weekend. I expect it will be... vanilla.