Saturday, 26 January 2013

HELLO The Classics Club - The Golem

This is a European classic. I can't remember how I discovered Meyrink, but I'm glad I did. I might have spotted it in the 'other customers also bought' section on Amazon, when I bought Dracula. 

Gustav Meyrink, the pseuodonym of Gustav Meyer, was born in Austria, 19th January 1868. Illegitimate son of Baron Karl von Varnbuler von und zu Hemmingen, and Maria Wilhelmina Adelheyd Meier, an actress. In 1883, he moved with his mother, to Prague, a place that was to feature in many of his works. Prague was also home to his contemporary, Franz Kafka.

The turning point in his life, and one that was to influence his writing, occurred in 1892, aged 24. Meyrink was about to shoot himself when he was distracted by scratching. A booklet entitled Afterlife was pushed under the door.


Following this 'coincidence,' Meyrink studied the occult, theosophy, Kabbala, Christian Sophiology, Eastern mysticism. He also practised yoga and later in life became a Buddhist, before his death 4th August 1932.

In the first decade of 1900's Meyrink married and started his family. He also began his writing career, first publishing satirical short stories for magazines, and in 1903, his first compilation, The Hot Soldier and Other Stories. Others followed. Additionally, he worked as a translator to earn extra money. In five years he was able to translate into German, fifteen volumes of Charles Dickens, as well as Rudyard Kipling, Lafcadio Hearn, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. 

In 1915, Meyrink's first novel, and most famous - The Golem- was published. It was written in German and widely translated. It is based on Jewish legend, that tells of a Rabbi creating a creature out of clay, the golem, who is given a Kabbalistic spell to animate it. 

The MC, Athanasius Pernath lives in the Prague ghetto, and works as a jeweler. The story begins with the narrator assuming the character of Pernath when his hat is mistakenly swapped. Throughout the gothic fantasy, the reader wonders if Pernath is caught up in a dream world (hallucinating), or if he is turning into the Golem.

Having been to Prague, I can clearly envision the ghetto and the feeling of bleakness, wandering the cobbled streets. Meyrink sets the scene so well. It's a gothic supernatural story with great characters. I wanted to know their story and empathised with their plight. The Golem, always lurking, is not physically present throughout, but you sense him in the periphery, enticing you to read on.

If you've read and enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula, you'll find this just as riveting. 

I'm looking forward to reading the other two Meyrink novels in my classics list: The Green Face and The Angel of the West Window.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

HELLO Here It Comes!

I took this yesterday. The country woke up to mild panic. It's snowing! My concerns were with my fellow community nurses who would be trudging around in it all day. Luckily for me, I picked the right week for annual leave. It does mean, however, that I'm stuck in doors. I don't mind. I don't like the cold, I don't want to risk driving at the moment, and of course I can catch up on my reading and writing.

Well, I'm still going on authonomy, though I hadn't been on for a few days. When I checked my messages on Sunday, I thought, 'what the heck?!' My book's up for review on the YA forum. I'd been bumped up. So, The Junk Room has a two week review starting yesterday. I'll fill you in when it's all over.

Did you know that Art has a website logging a collection of forty-four years worth of books. Wow! I spotted this on Alex in Leeds an avid reader and reviewer. I'll be having a proper look at some point to see if we've read the same books. 

I discovered an intriguing Persephone book called The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski, on Alex's site. I'll be reading this little gem this week.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

HELLO A Year In Books

In 2012, I read 28 books. The total would have been more, but there were 2 that I had trouble with. I will name the books and there authors, and the reasons for abandoning the stories (may be for now).

I bought Thorn In My Side, by Sheila Quigley, who was promoting her books in a well known bookshop. I'm afraid it was the typos and changes in font that stopped me in my tracks. Is that bad of me, or should I have over looked it? Well, I couldn't. It stopped the follow of the read. Because I've been editing my own work, these errors just leapt out at me like the Alice's 'White Rabbit.' Instead of 'I'm late!' He's yelling 'A mistake!'

The other book was Casual Vacancy, by J.K.Rowling. I read a great chunk of this book, but was tired of the slow pace. Was I expecting something similar to her previous adventures? Not really. There are lots of characters to get your head around, and I was waiting for the 'umph' part, the kick that tells you you're in the story, but it didn't happen for me.

On a brighter note, I enjoyed the ones I placed in the 2012 Bookworm Library.


Every February, Sophie Hannah releases a new psychological thriller, which I pre-order and read in a couple of sittings. I love how the chapters are headed with dates from the perspective of the MC and investigating detectives; Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. There's is an awkward relationship that runs through all the books. 

I discovered Sophie's work after buying her short story collection: The Fantastic Book Of Everybody's Secrets. I've been a fan ever since.

What a delightful read about ten year old Judith, who gets bullied at school, but finds solace in creating her own world out of rubbish. However, to her, one man's rubbish is another man's treasure.

Another old favourite author who knows how to scare the beejeebers out of you. I'd have bought the book anyway, but the inside quote by Herbert stated that there are some basic truths in the story that the reader has to decide for themselves what was the truth. That is a great hook.

The story is set in a priory-type refuge for the wealthy and famous, and there are a lot of high profile names mentioned in the book. I was left thinking: what if...?

It was reviewed by Caroline Smailes on her blog, and I bought the book on Kindle to read on my summer holiday, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm glad Nikki has other books for me to discover.

When Emma starts a music school she meets the popular twins who influence her life in more ways than one. This is a delicious spooky story.

I've read more than the two non-fiction books in my library, but I've only added the ones that I've finish. I do like to dip in and out of these sort of books. 

David Icke is a writer of conspiracy books. I've read them all and have found a lot of useful and meaningful information amongst his theories. Of course, there was a time in the early 1990's when he was ridiculed for being outspoken about his ideas, some of which seemed to come from a sci-fi film plot, and he was dubbed 'the son of God.' Times have changed and a lot of people are 'thinking,' and becoming broad minded. (I hope).

Who knew that the writer of A Room With A View wrote sci-fi? I can't remember how I found out about this book; a short story. I love how these writers who project their minds in to the future and seemingly create a world, for example, where life revolves around the internet and tablet devices. This is what E.M. Foster wrote in 1909, except the tablet is 'the speaking apparatus' that is used to instant message/conference ideas. Sounds a bit like facebook, doesn't it?

I have lots of books to enjoy reading this year. Some are for The Classics Club where I am reading 50 books in 5 years (2012-2017). Others are from my TBR shelf on my Kindle, and from a real shelf in my living room.