Review of The Proof by Cesar Aira, translated by Nick Caistor.
The Proof, originally published in Argentina in 1992 and now released in English (translated by Nick Caistor, who has translated among others, Isabel Allende and Andres Neuman) starts off with a sentence I have never uttered and will never utter. 16 year old Marcia hears a shout of the proposition as she is walking through past other school children. She learns that the offer for sex came from two female punks, going by the name Mao and Lenin. She doesn't recognise them , whether this is due to their change in attire from school time or if she doesn't know them whatsoever.
Marcia considers the proposition to be a joke but does enter into a dialogue with the two girls, Mao and Lenin. Marcia tries to tell them that she needs to be elsewhere but getting away from people doesn't seem a strength of Marcia. They go to a fast food place where the punks needless cause conflict with server and supervisors before gearing up from the memorable (ok, maybe should wait a year before making such a judgement and not not 24 hours ) finale of the novel.
A short novel at 100 pages (counting the 8 blank pages at the start, I do wonder if they had 8 on purpose to get to 100 pages?) but one I quite liked. I would like to read something longer of Aira's though as he wasn't a writer I read before but this was a good opening to him.
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Island Beneath The Sea is the latest book for Isabel Allende. It centers on two main characthers, the french colonist Toulouse Valmorain and a slave that Valmorain owns by the name of Zarite (also known as Tete).
Valmorain goes to Haiti as he recieves word that his father is dying on the sugar plantation and he must go see him before he dies. It never was suppose to be permanent but ends up that way.
Valmorain hires a head overseet, a cruel vindictive guy named Prosper Cambray.
Tete is bought for Toulouse Valmorain by the professional lady he used to visit Violette Boisier before he got engaged (Valmorain hired Violette to touch up his place before he got married) to act as the servant to his soon to be wife (this is not a real spoiler. this happens in the first 30 pages of the book)
it deals with the themes of slavery, ownership, class, love, racism, family, inequality of opportunity.
on the subject of ownership, it is interesting that
overall, i enjoyed the book
another good thing is that it counts towards my continual professional development for accountancy it showed me about valuation fof slaves and once before slaves are fully depreciated (what depreciation rate it does not say though), you can work them as hard as they've paid for themselves. although, i hope this will never useful to me
Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende
Maya is sent to the remote chilean island of chilote by her grandmother for safety from the fbi, interpol and some las vegas drugs gangs looking to get some information from maya and probably either kill her or lock her up for a long time. maya's narrative switching between the present and the past in this book, the present being her life on the island where she helps her grandmothers old friend manuel with his book on anthropology and helps manuel's plantonic partner blanca shnanke at the school were she is teaching. there are various events that come into the book in the island. meanwhile in the past portion of the book, we start with maya's grandmother Nini and her father as a boy fleeing from the new military dictatorship of pinochet for a new life in canada after the murder of nin's husband by the military dictatorship. there in canada, she meets an african american college professor from berkeley who is visiting canada as a visiting professor while she is working as a chauffeur. they fall in love, get married. then mayas father andreas who is now an airline pilot falls in love and marries a danish air stewardess, they have a child and she abandons the child with Nini.
the books opening part is about the relationship between maya, nini and nini's second husband, popo and the love they share. unfortunately when popo dies, that is when maya's life start the downward spiral leaving her to be a very sought offer 20 year old who is suffering from addiction and such. and thats a summary of the first 80 pages or so.
overall, this was a brilliant book. the narrative is very good and very easy to read and enjoy although some harder parts in the book due to drugs and sexual stuff. I did feel sorry for some of the adict characters littered throughout the later parts of the las vegas but this is my general, sorrowfulness about life being wasted unnecessarily.
one thing towards the end of the book
review of The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
The Japanese Lover sees Irina get a job at the Lark House nursing home, a private nursing home where her role sees her dealing with the patients and administrative work there. Among the patients there is Alma Belasco, a wealthy woman who got herself into the nursing home. Alma hires Irina as a personal assistant along with her other duties. The story unfolds between the present and the past.
The past we see that Alma was sent to San Francisco by her parents in 1939 from Poland due to worry about Hitler/Germany. When in the USA, she becomes friend with the same age gardener's son and their friendship is there until the family is interned at Topaz internment camp in Utah where his family are sent as part of the USA policy to intern Japanese people who live on the west coast during World War II.
The present story line concerns Seth, Alma's favourite grandson, amorous proceedings towards Irina.
Not one of Allende's best novels but it does past the time, (god is that a bad recommendation?) and there is nothing really to neither dislike or love about the novel. It is a good book, not a great one but Allende did a lot of favours in the structure, the short chapters making it easy to read, at times moving from breezy writing to horrors with some difficult topics (the holocaust, japanese internment, etc). The breadth and range of subjects in it for some writers might target a book of 800 or 900 pages, thankfully Allende knows the strength of brevity. While some writers may have a 600 page novel about nothing, Allende fits alot into the 300 pages here and it is to her credit
Some side characters do overlap with characters from her other novels - there is a girl with down syndrome (house of the spirits), asian & american romance (portrait in sepia), character in a wheelchair (Maya's notebook?) but considering the number of books she has written, some overlap is to be expected.
Overall a good love story.