BAJO EL TECHO QUE SE DESMORONA by Goran Petrovic

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This is the last book by Goran Petrovic translated into Spanish, and of course I have to read it absolutely. The name of this blog is also the name of one of Goran Petrovic’s stories, and one of the books I most enjoy and admire.

Uranija Cinema is the meeting place for thirty different people on Sundays, when to see a film is one of the only entertainment that they can find in a small Serbian’s village.

The story brings us into the lives of this group of people during the years of the XX century in Serbia, and we learnt about the aspirations and contradictions, representing of the Serbian society at this time.

The melancholy again accompanies the life of the characters of Goran Petrovic’s novels.

The whole story gives you the feeling of old-fashioned life, together with its eccentric characters.

The beginning of the book serves as a diversion from the main story, being a cluster of short stories.

The story starts with the movements of a strange and obsessive shoemaker who get this absurd opportunity that makes him work hard but get a lot of money to build his dream: the Jugoslavia Hotel. But the business is not like in his dreams, and finally becomes a nightmare, that makes him abandon it. The Jugoslavia Hotel finally becomes the place where this bunch of people has this cinema. The cinema, being the place where we are going to meet them.

Don’t expect a great story, as it is only about ordinary people’s lives, but full of great stories, like those of you or me.

This time the sentences have been translated by me from Spanish. I hope that I don’t lose the sense.

“The participants in the actions didn’t care much the gain omitted as the lose their own senses of greatness. A trader does not like a dime ends in someone else’s pocket.”

“… The scoundrels of the place, Z and Z …” I cannot forget those other rogues: Zipy y Zape.

“Some of the guests came to sing and others to hang themselves outside of their houses. In some of the rooms, the guests got drunk because of the loss of freedom and others because they didn´t know what to do with the freedom that they had…”

“The words ‘freedom’, ‘revolution’, ‘strike’, ‘anarchy’ were banned. Other words were not expelled but explained in a somewhat different way. The Osmanli Dictionary, published in 1905, said that the definition of the word ‘democracy’ was: exotic bird of America. “

And speaking about how to change the meaning of the words.

“I will instruct you, the tyranny is always bragging, she struts and keeps quiet. Democracy, however, is a small bird, that you do not see, but when he starts talking …!”

“The Serbian. It is an excellent language to speak about something all what you want, but only when everything has finished, when it is impossible to do anything else.”

“A woman is a woman, but a driving licence is a driving licence. You must not put men in a situation where they have to make difficult decisions.”

“Also, because then that ‘beyond’ of them seemed more bearable, especially after being convinced that he was here worse.”

“… the bombs fall within the limits of the allowed error of approximately a few hundred lives.”

How can I read something like this and that my first thought is not of repulse? Someone sold us the idea of secondary casualties and we or at least I, have absorbed and accept the concept as something normal.

Goran Petrovic is a Serbian writerdownload born in 1961. He is one of the most widely read writers in Serbia among his contemporaries.

He studied Yugoslavian and Serbian literature at the University of Belgrade. He works as a librarian in Zica Monastery. He received the most prominent award in Serbian literature, the NIN Prize, for two of his novels “The hand of good fortune” and “Differences.”

He is one of the representatives of the “Magical realism”, and sometimes has been compared with Gabriel García Márquez and José Luis Borges, but even when I am sure that it is great to be compared with two of the greatest writer of the last century, I believe that Goran Petrovic has his own voice. A voice that has a personal and original sound that is unlike any others.

His characters all have a certain melancholy, and all of them are always looking to improve themselves and are , not carried away by convention and with a clean look to see the future.

He first published the book of short prose,”Advice for an Easier Life”, 1989), followed by the novel “Sky-Locked Atlas”, 1993); then a collection of short stories,, “Island and Ambiental Stories”, 1996; “Siege of The Saint Salvation Church”, 1997; “The hand of good fortune”, 2000); another collection of short stories, “Close One”, 2002; a selection of short writings in prose, “Everything I Know About Time”, 2003); and a drama, “Ferry”, 2004).

Petrović’s books have been reprinted several times. His novels have already been translated into German, Russian, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish.

The novel “Siege of The Saint Salvation Church” was dramatized and directed as a play by Kokan Mladenovic, at the National Theatre of Sombor.

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OLNEY, 7TH MARCH 2015

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After over two months without a free Saturday, finally on 7th March I had a whole Saturday to do what I wanted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy original plans were to visit the Cotswolds with my son, but a minor accident the previous day with his roller-skate made it impossible, so on Saturday I set off to Onley alone. At first I was just intending to look for an Oxfam bookshop to by myself a present, and later then do a little exploring.

The Oxfam bookshop was a small and very well organized place, with not a lot of books, but easy to see and choose. The books were perfectly divided into classic, fiction, crime, travel, etc. They sell also music and some new items such as cards or chocolate.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were two very friendly volunteers, and the prices of the books were more than acceptable for secondhand books in good condition. As usual I had to stop myself from buying too many books and decided to choose the two more interesting titles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that I walked around the Market Place and went to The Cowper and Newton Museum. This is an interesting place where you can see XVIII century furniture, clothes, and gardens. The gardens were the best for me. The house has a couple of gardens: One is a Georgian walled flower garden, and the other a Victorian Kitchen garden. Both looked similar to me, with their benches in strategic places to enjoy the sun while reading or just thinking.

The visit to the house was as interesting as the visit to the gardens. Every object was well documented and original. I particularly enjoyed the clothes with the small details and the laces. The entry only cost 5 pounds and it is a season ticket. It is really good value. They have a small very cheap tearoom, with some tables and chairs outside looking on the Georgian garden. Unfortunately I had to return home and I didn´t have time to relax with a cup of tea .OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After that I walked along the High street and discovered a place that was well cared for with nice houses and small shops each with their own character.

My final visit was to the Parish church St. Peter and St. Paul on my way back to the car. The first thing that I could see was the high Gothic tower. In the churchyard of the church, there were the graves of John Newton and his wife Mary. This like others graveyard that I’ve so far found in the UK, gave me a feeling of peace and tranquility , and it was a pleasure to visit.

This is a town that is well worth a visit, where you can enjoy a pleasant walk and have lunch or tea in one of its charming tearooms or restaurants.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HUMANS by Matt Haig (Bookclub reading)

TheHumansProfessor Andrew Martin, a mathematician Cambridge teacher has just resolved the Riemann hypothesis. This discovery could change the future on Earth, and an Alien Race much more developed than the human species decided to erase the knowledge and all the people implicated in it discovery. Mathematics at this level is too dangerous if in the hands of human beings. Humans for Vonnadorians are that a violent, fallible and unreliable species.

This is a book for ‘laughing out loud’, and at the same time gives you the opportunity to think about our weaknesses and our strengths.

The story not only directly criticizes our mistakes as a species but also praises our good qualities and, in the end shows you that it is possible to find good and bad things everywhere.

The sentences in this book can explain better than me what I mean by ‘laughing out loud’ and thinking.

Belowe are some of the sentences that made me laugh a lot. They don’t need any further explanation:

“But this was England, a part of Earth where thinking about the weather was the chief human activity.”

“This was, I would later realise, a planet of things wrapped inside things. Food inside wrappers. Bodies inside clothes. Contempt inside smiles. Everything was hidden away.”

“Their purpose was simply to pursue the enlightenment of orgasm. A few seconds of relief from the surrounding dark.”

“… one of these books they read to feel clever, or one of those they will pretend never to have read in order to stay looking clever?”

“The ‘pub’ was an invention of humans living in England, designed as compensation for the fact that they were humans living in England.”

It is important to be able to laugh at yourself, and discover the funny things of your daily life, and the previous sentences are good examples of this.

And these are the ones that make me think more:

“So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.”

Or maybe a question of other opinions.

“The term ‘news’ on Earth generally meant ‘news that directly affects humans’. There was, quite literally nothing about the antelope or the sea-horse or the red-eared slider turtle or the other one million species on the planet.”

Or what it is the same ‘news’ is only news for those that it affects directly. No doubt that we think about at ourselves, forgetting our environment.

“It seemed people didn’t mind someone being naked in a rainforest so long as it was nowhere near their lawn.”

In short: Do what you want, but do not bother me.

“His clothes were as black as space and his T-shirt had the words ‘Dark Matter’ on them. Maybe this was how certain people communicated, via slogans on their T-shirts.”

The new digital era that makes us communicate through the internet or slogans on our T-shirt, prevent us from communicating person to person.

“I realised I felt a terrible loneliness and so called him back. And he came and seemed happy to be wanted again.”

A dog is always a reliable companion, not like humans.

“It was full of the complexity and contradictions that I would soon learn made humans human.”

I especially like this sentence. It tells me that deep inside us there is a lot of good.

“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for.”

Sometimes everyone feels something like this.

“And now we know we don’t have free will, people are getting pissed off about that, too.”

I completely agree, but the most of my time I try not to be aware of this sad reality.

“I knew that the whole of human history was full of people who tried against the odds.”

A very positive part of humankind’s nature.

“There was no such thing as impossible.”

Another positive part of us: we always continue trying.

“If you think something is ugly, look harder. Ugliness is just a failure of seeing.”

We need more of this kind of thinking.

Matt Haig was born in Sheffield in 1975 and grew up inMattHaigs Nottinghamshire. He now lives in Leeds. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Face.

His novels are often dark and quirky takes on family life. The Last Family in England tells the story of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 with the protagonists as dogs. It was a bestseller in the UK and the film rights have been sold to Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company. His second novel Dead Fathers Club is based on Hamlet, telling the story of an introspective 11-year old dealing with the recent death of his father and the subsequent appearance of his father’s ghost. His third adult novel, The Possession of Mr Cave, deals with an obsessive father desperately trying to keep his teenage daughter safe. His children’s novel, Shadow Forest, is a fantasy that begins with the horrific death of the protagonists’ parents. It won the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize in 2007.

THE HOME-MAKER by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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This is a family story in which no one is happy. Why?  Because all of them are doing what they don’t want to do. An accident or maybe a blessing changes their lives. Everyone can do what they enjoy with the society’s approval.

This book brings a message that does not change with time.

The preface of the novel says that this is not a feminist story as has been hailed, but a story about children. I don’t agree with either of these two opinions.

I believe this is a story about how society ties us up and makes us unhappy.  How this unhappiness make us make other people unhappy, and how easy is at the end to be happy and make people happy.

Too much “happy” in this sentence, but it is about this.

The characters in this novel evolve from those that are unpleasant or weak, to those who are nice and strong. The point of view of the reader change with the situation in this story of their personal lives.

Their health, their dreams, even their way to breathe. Everything changes if your life takes a new path. A path that makes you happy. “Life has a different colour”, this is the sentence that gives the best picture of what happens in this story.

Every character in the story has a negative part that could be positive,if we look at it from a positive way:

“She detested people  who moved languidly and dragged themselves around”

From the depression for others behaviour …

“Oh, Mr. Willing I love it.  I do hope I’ll give satisfaction, for I love every bit of it”

to the happiness about those things that you enjoy when your are just a child.

Lester has long ago given up any hope of having enough time to do other things that seem worthwhile. To read the books, he liked, to meditate, to try to understand anything.

“A man who is a failure in  business-office ought not for an instant to forget his failure.  The least he can do is to be conscious of his humiliation at all times”.

“Of course it is dreadfully hard for a mother to be separated from her children; but we all have to do the best we can”.

Do your really love your children less because you have other interests and ambitions?  Society is always controlling us.

“What a ghastly thing to have sensitive, helpless human beings absolutely in the power of other human beings! Absolute, unquestioned power!

“How queer not to have somebody tell her what to do and make her do it”.

The children of this family grow up in a brave way.

“Lester Knapp took the greatest comfort in Henry’s being just like anybody else.  So much the better for him! For everybody! There would never be tragedy in his life, no thwarted, futile struggling against an organisation of things that did not fit him”.

“Father will miss me when I go to school.  Father likes to have me around”.

The incredible discovering of what is the basic love of a father.

“And I am the man who, three months ago, was so eager to get out of life”.

The sensation of feeling comfortable with the standard things of life.

Society and its rules have been created to control excess and “misbehaviours”, but the bad use of every power has turned these rules against us, and hypocrisy and envy have substituted what was created for us as good.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879 – 1958) brought the Montessori Method of chdownloadild-rearing to America, presided over the country’s first adult education program, and influenced American literary tastes as a member of the Book-of-the-Month Club selection committee from 1926 to 1951. A committed educational reformer and social activist, the popular Arlington, VT writer produced 22 works of fiction and 18 non fiction books on a wide range of subjects.