The Atlas of Misty Continents

I finished this novel last week. What a shame! Considering it was published in 1992. I try to follow Turkish literature closely but I have this personal problem. When everybody is talking about a book, recommending or suggesting, I develop this enemity against the book. I hardly get it and read it. I have been hearing İhsan Oktay Anar’s book for long. But as it happens to me with some popular books I somehow resisted reading it.

I owe an apology since I read it and I found the book amazing. Unfortunately I found out from a valuable Turkish translator’s website that the book has not been translated into English yet. If this info is still up to date, I think some publishers owe apologies to this book as well!

kitalarThe book is settled in 17th Century Ottoman Empire. We follow dreams of a man called Uzun İhsan throughout the book. His story takes us different parts of the city, different social groups and their lives and a unique philosophy of life presented and pursued by some of the characters. Author, İhsan Oktay Anar is a philosophy professor, you feel it in every aspect of the book. However, you feel it in a nice way not as a stick in your eye. You follow, question, try to answer but not in a boring way but in a sweet and enjoyable way. As a sociologist myself, I can definitely say as sociologists and philosophers we know how to push people to boredom when we write or talk. Luckily this book is on the brilliant side: Telling you a philosophical and historical story in a intelligent and efficient way instead of trying to convince you to a certain truth.

Once more, I should say that this book should be translated into English or any other languages. It would be a must read for people who like historical, philosophical novels with a strong fictional base.

Elena Ferrante: My Brillant Friend

Reading new authors makes me excited every time. It is like first date: Is she/he going to like me? Am I going to like her /him? I started reading Ferrante’s novel with these feelings. I am sympathetic to Italian life. I have the feeling that they are kinda close to our Turkish living. Cosy kitchens, strong family relations and trespassing individuals’ lives all the time having no idea of individual space. I think I was right about my stereotypical approach towards Italians. And of course there is this unseen tie between all social classes of the world. More or less same problems, same expectations from life and same disappointments.

Ferrante seemingly tells the story of two girls Lina and Lila. However, beyond these girls amazing imagination and survival strategies towards life you see Italian working class way of life. Poor neighbourhoods and increasing estrangement of young people from their families especially thanks to education. Similarly in Turkey education is still the major tool for social mobilisation. Estrangement from old habits, families and poor and ugly neighbourhoods is inevitable for educated young people.

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I am putting Turkish book cover that I liked more than English cover.

This story somehow touched my heart because I had a more or less similar friendship. I am coming from a working class family too. My childhood friend and I always dreamed of being writers. She stopped school after high school and got married in couple of years later. I continued my education that I became a PhD finally. Invisible distance between us increased in years. She wrote an unpublished young adult novel couple of years ago which I did not quite admired.

When I read Ferrante’s novel, I remembered all these timeline. I had this awkward  movements when you feel like someone spied on your life. I do not think I need to say more about how beautifully written this novel is. It gave me that bitter sour feeling but I loved it.

Reading Niamh Boyce’s The Herbalist

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Late in the last week I started reading The Herbalist.

I noted this book to my to read list (actually this is my non-existent mental list. I just fav some tweets or add anything interesting to read button on my computer unfortunately not to return soon) when I read Niamh Boyce’s interview on Booksbywomen website. Something got me. She was telling about how she wrote the book inspired by a news piece in an old newspaper when she was 19. She says she started thinking about this news piece after 20 years later that was covering a herbalist who lived in the 1930s Ireland.

These details stuck in my mind. After months later I finally bought a Kindle version of the book and started reading. I should say it got me from the first sentence. Although it has a literature taste that makes it a bit complicated for me to understand the idioms sometimes, still I can recommend it whole heartedly.

The purpose of research is to bring the book to life, not to weight it down. A novel should feel immediate, even if it’s set in the past.

Niamh Boyce interview at http://booksbywomen.org/diving-into-the-silence-writing-inspired-by-real-life/

Let’s Fight Club One MORE Time!

I have seen the movie first and became a fan of it. I have seen it couple of times before I read the book.

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Couple of days ago I have read a review that said that the movie was great but the book is greater. I started reading the book. It is beautifully written and fast moving. It totally syncs with the movie as far as I remember the script.

Another significant feature of the book is –apart from extra info on home making explosives- that it is like reading a psychologically ill mind. Where do I know it? Yep like most of us I feel sometimes that thoughts are flowing through my mind that are impossible to follow. And bingo: I am a Pisces. Nobody knows except Pisces how far their imaginations or “ill mindedness” can go. For live instances check modern day politicians who were born into same horoscope! When I was fascinated by this thought flows technique of the book I checked Palahnuik on Wikipedia. Bingo: He was born the same day with me! A Pisces, an ill mind with extensive imagination or just another creative author.

I have been reading a lot of sci-fi books lately to escape from my hectic reality. Good news: I have finished writing up my dissertation. Last pace is of course a bit more tight and more stressful than the last 6 years. OMG who would believe that I would spend my best years in such a nerd thing. I was such a nerd already then forget about “Oh who would have believe that?” part.

To rip it up I definitely suggest the book to movie fans! Or people who like to be surprised and wants to have a glimpse of mind flow technique in writing.

The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases

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This week I am reading  The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan.

I strongly suggest this book to psychology lovers. When you read through the bizarre cases that Dr. Small carries to his book’s pages you cannot help asking yourself “Do I have any of these symptoms?” If you are lucky you would not prefer to have.

However, this book gives you a brief presentation of how our brain and illness can play games with us with our body. And most importantly it is easy and fun to read.

Book Review: No one Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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I love Marquez’s novels. I like the way he builds a story’s structure, plays with it, makes fun with the reader, keeps it simple but impressive and mocks us with his surreal characters.

When we were discussing with a Mexican friend he told me “I do not understand why they call Marquez surreal. The characters that he brings to life are very real for us.”

His characters are a part of Latin American beliefs, culture and history which my Middle Eastern side does not find hard to believe. Also as a sociologist, I like the way how Marquez narrates common reactions of his society to certain events. For instance, in Chronicles of a Murder, he follows a person who is going to be murdered in streets of a Columbian city. Although everyone knows (even we know from the first sentence of the book till the end) this guy is going to be murdered, people prefer to keep silent. This is not because they hate this guy but because most of them thinks that someone else will take responsibility to tell him about his fate.colonel

In No One Writes to the Colonel, we observe a waste expectation of a Columbian colonel for his retirement salary. While time passes, poverty, illness and hardships of life overcomes colonel’s and his wife’s expectation for this salary. Everyone loses their belief in his chances to get his salary while colonel keeps his faith in it.

Colonel’s long expectation reminds us that emptiness in age’s heroic sacrifaces. Although Colonel had given much for his country, as is presented tragic comic way, his efforts are not appreciated in return. This short novel is also a literal critique of the day’s politics and corruption.

Happy Yoga by Steve Ross

In general, I have several books by my side during the week. Mostly these books are irrelevant to each other. For instance last time I had Stephan Hawkings Universe in a Nutshell, Classical Ottoman Poetry, Dostoveski’s Demons, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Cronicles of a Murder and this final book I have finished: Happy Yoga by Steve Ross.

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Happy Yoga reasons why there is nothing to worry about in seven parts (Hard to believe!). The book is mainly established around the inner logic of yoga and yogis, going beyond yoga as we know it.

What I like most about this book is mind tickling idioms at the beginning of each part. Also, this book provides a journey in itself for people who are seeking for an inner logic, truth beyond the physical realites of the world.

Although I am pisces and it is not the hardest thing to follow such mindfulness journeys in my imagination, sometimes I find book’s advices a bit unrealistic to apply: Following a vegan diet (milk is only good for caves), and everything will be alright if you let it go totally (Seriously, I am coming from Turkiye and we are not used to let things go that easily).

Even though I found it hard to apply this week I am challenging myself with a vegan diet. It is one of worst things that you can do a carnivore. I thought I would starve to death! It is my fifth day and I still survive believe it not more energic! (Ok I would not say no to a cheese cake beside my coffee, I should admit, but anyway it worths trying)

I want to finish sharing some of these wise proverbs in the book:

Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.

Voltaire

Nothing was, nothing will be, and everything has reality and presence.

Herman Hesse, Sidharta

Your true nature is beyond description. It cannot be known with the mind, yet it exists. It is the source of everything.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Anything more than the truth would be too much.

Robert Frost

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Franz Kafka

 

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