Pages: Death And The Penguin

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

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What may seem absurd to you and me maybe completely normal to someone else. In Andrey Kurkov's Death And The Penguin there is no room to question the absurd, it is just accepted and as readers we accept it too.

Viktor - a writer who lacks the ability for longevity and sensation previously acquired his penguin Misha when Kiev zoo were no longer able to support them. This is the first little oddity of many we come to accept as readers. The pair are soon swept into a world of political and media corruption yet we are kept to a tiny window of it, on the cusp of everything.

This cusp begins in the form of a unique job offer as an obituarist. A well paid one, all prepared greatly in advance. Yet the burden of such a morose job is the lack of recognition and promise that your work could go unpublished for years to come. With Viktor dwelling on this there are a slew of published obituaries and with that what seemed a simplistic but absurd narrative fell into a surreal novel, edging on a thriller. Death And The Penguin only edges because what it does beautifully is accept everything. Something that mirrors what maybe surreal to us but the norm in a post soviet Ukraine. As long as Viktor is getting paid and still receiving work that is all that matters until the problems face him straight on. And Kurkov's writing means that funnily enough we don't seems to question it past reading the page consciously. He has pulled us into that mindset so flawlessly that nothing is absurd but perfectly normal.

This continues through Viktor's acceptance of the leaving of an illusive vistors daughter - Sonya. Rather than question Viktor just accepts Sonya, the mind set of the novel, reflecting an absurd but deadpan style. Death And The Penguin is unlike anything i've ever read before and probably sounds like it shouldn't work and doesn't work but it does and that is why it is perfect.

I do not want to summarise the novel, you should find everything out for yourself but I promise it is not as nonchalant as it seems. Things get darker, the absurd seems frighteningly real and in the midst of an unstable and corrupt state Kurkov is revealing that maybe we should be striving past perseverance and acceptation even if it means you pet becomes your calling card.



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Review: Polar

Sunday, 9 February 2014

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Although with Hit The Floor we have to review an album every week, every so often there are those ones that blow you away. Last week I received Polar's Shadowed By Vultures which I did not stop playing from the second I got it. Check out my review here and it comes out tomorrow so it is definitely worth a purchase.
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Review: Defeater, Caspian, More Than Life, Goodtime Boys

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I was recently lucky enough to review Defeater, Caspian, More Than Life + Goodtime Boys at Sheffield's Corporation. It is amazing to come away so inspired from a show, Caspian are one of those bands that make you want to get stuff done and they have definitely had this effect on me, check out the review here.


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Pages: 'Delta Of Venus' by Anais Nin

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anais nin, delta of venus, typewriterteeth, book review

Anais Nin penned an exotic erotic world made up of individuals writing their illustrious desires in order to make a living, desires that were not always raunchy but beautiful, instinctive and sensuous whilst remaining accessible.

I did not pick 'Delta Of Venus' up with the intention of seeing it as an erotic novel, and I do not think it should be. Yes there is sex but it feels real, Nin has crafted such stunning techniques that her stories are not all about 'the money shot' but working for it too. The read stirs you, pulls you and envelopes you to the characters, their wants, their desires and their relationships and not just the raw sex of it all. And whats more is that she does all of this despite instructions to leave the poetry of it all out.


Anais Nin brings out this eloquent female perspective to what felt like a male dominated genre and what is now a convoluted mess of poorly written trash erotica (do not get me started). Recently it feels like sex is thrown in our faces, either rough and ready or tastefully lit with gentle behaviors - it seems to lack a midway of natural emotions and reactions. So despite 'Delta Of Venus' been written in the 1940's you could place these stories, relationships and characters in any time and they would work as flawlessly as they do in the book.

Characters are not just over stepping what they feel are the decorums of sex but of gender, class and war revealing an insight into human behaviors and psychology.  Windows blocking the light from overhead planes, opium dens filled with entangling hands, voyeurism and becoming someone else. Not all these stories may be for you - but not all of them are to get you off, 'Delta Of Venus' is a window into the sexual world around you that you may never enter. And the beautiful thing is that they are trapped within these pages, you have no choice but to keep reading, you cannot skip to the end, Nin holds you with her characters until you have felt what they felt, witnessed what they have witnessed and explored what they have explored.

anais nin, delta of venus, typewriterteeth, book review


Nin has given a language to sex, and women a place within it. You may not revel in sexual abandon but you have witnessed it with the characters in the pages of 'Delta Of Venus'.  You have felt every tension, every doubt, every touch and every thought as they pushed boundaries and relationships.  Nin has brought you to examine human life in its most basic form and it is not always erotic, but natural delving into stories and desires that could have stemmed from any of us.

Get it here: Delta of Venus (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics): Written by Anais Nin, 1992 Edition, (New edition) Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd [Paperback]
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