Sunday, October 13, 2019

Experience By Tessa Hadley Review

The short story "Experience" By Tessa Hadley was published in the magazine "The New Yorker". According to the plot, the young woman, Laura, stayed in the house of another young woman, Hana, who left her house for a while for traveling.
Laura started her story with these lines:
"When my marriage fell apart one summer, I had to get out of the little flat in Kentish Town, where I had been first happy and then sad."
During the difficult period of her life, Laura tried to replace her personality to another person's and eventually she "found herself". The plot of the story initially looked as a typical love story but it turned in another direction. Readers would find a happy ending here but not the same as it might be expected.
Here is the text of the story:

Sunday, October 6, 2019

From La Relación Report by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca -- Review

The chronicle "La Relación Report" (The Account) by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca describes an expedition to Spanish North America which he joined in 1527. The expedition started with 600 men on five ships and Cabeza de Vaca along with his three mates survived.
He described in his memories the sincerity of Native Americans in intentions to help sailors. The author wrote:
"The Indians, understanding our full plight, sat down and lamented for half an hour so loudly they could have been heard a long way off. It was amazing to see these wild, untaught savages howling like brutes in compassion for us."
"La Relación" gives readers a chance to look for the historical epoch directly.  Reading Cabeza de Vaca recollection we can compare the modern knowledge about the time of the conquest of America with his eyewitness report. 
Here is the kink to the text:

Saturday, September 28, 2019

An Ideal Craftsman by Walter de la Mare --- Review

The short story "An Ideal Craftsman" was written by British writer and poet Walter de la Mare. In the story, the boy awoke in the middle of the night. He had a nightmare and being under the impression of it, he witnessed a real murder.

The author paid much attention to describing many details: things which the boy owned and saw, smells, thoughts. He was presented by the writer as innocent in the beginning of the story. Did he look the same in the ending? Perhaps Walter de la Mare deliberately left this question for readers as open …

Here is the link to the story:

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Mackintosh by William Somerset Maugham -- Review

The plot of the short story "Mackintosh" by William Somerset Maugham, occurred on the island which belongs to the state Samoa in the Pacific ocean. The British administration of the island was presented by Walker. He was a man who had a large life experience. He would judge the people of the island according to his intuition rather than evidence.

The main character of the story, Mackintosh served as helper of Mr.Walker. He was a bookish man. The first scene in the story described a presence of Mr.Walker who enjoyed his life and Mackintosh who just survived in a tropical climate.

The author leads readers through the narration showing good attitude to the controversial features of the two main characters. The plot is very intriguing, the tension for readers was kept up to the end of the story.

This is a link to the text of the story:[item4]!/4/2/1:0)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Qatar and Bangladesh, September of 2019 (Photo-report)

Doha, the capital city of Qatar has became a very popular transitional point for people who travel between Europe, Asia and Africa. On the way to Bangladesh, we visited this country.

The most recognizable view of modern Doha is skyscrapers. They look good however due to the sometimes very hot temperatures, walking by foot along the streets can be a bitter-sweet experience as temperature goes as high as 40 degrees Celsius.

Qatar is located on the short of Persian Gulf. Upon our arrival in the evening, a few people were swimming at Katara (cultural village). We tested the water temperature and found that it was extremely hot.

On the way to the airport we visited the metro. Currently, Qatar has only one line, other lines are in the process of being built. The design of the stations is made in the modern style. All the stations adhere to the same design template. Below is a photo of the entrance to the metro.

It is important to highlight that the streets of Doha almost do not have people. In that way, it is similar to a concrete jungle, it's good only to see, not to live there.

Bangladesh amazed us by its beautiful landscapes, greenery of jungles, and the appearance of people there.

The local vehicles are very different in comparison to those we saw in Europe.

Working on the field covered by water for growing rice is a hard job, even if it is surrounded by wonderful nature and scenery.

From the picture below, it evident that children and adults are viewed equal regarding work.

On the road to Paharpur Buddhist Bihar which is located on the north- west of Bangladesh, we enjoyed observing the life around our car.

The image below shows the ricksha who guided us the direction of our movement.

The jungles altered to fields, the mixture of exotic plants and houses created unforgettable views.

Finally, we arrived at the Somapura Mahavihara, a medieval buddhist monastery.

Most of the visitors of this tourist attraction were dressed in a national clothes, as shown in the picture of a boy and a girl below.

People were friendly and welcoming and took a selfie of and with us.

Local people like to wear bright colored clothes. It was seen in the cars, which were also beautifully decorated.

The next day we rode to the capital city of the country - Dhaka. There are wonderful landscapes and lots of trash on the way to Dhaka.

It was observed that the local people enjoyed sitting on the roof of the cars

It is quite convenient to reach a seat on the roof using a special ladder for it, isn't it?

Tourists usually stay in the capital city, Dhaka. A tourist does not need to spend a lot of time there. Traffic congestion, trash, many beggars, absence of tourist attractions - all these factors make the city not suitable for tourism.

Though Dhaka is a bit interesting, it is not as exotic and enjoyable as being in the province of Bangladesh. Not many people know that Bangladesh is such a fabulous country! 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

I Want to Know Why by Sherwood Anderson Review

The short story "I Want to Know Why" by Sherwood Anderson is written from the perspective of a young country boy. The boy had a passion for horses. He dreamed about racing and he knew all about people who were involved in it.

The boy was presented in the story as innocent and a lad who idealized the subject of his passion. The relationship between one of his idols - a man and a "bad woman" overturned his attitude to life. He wants to know why (look to the title of the story).

The story presents the thoughts of a young boy, the author deliberately simplified the text according to the main character. The question used in the title and life's changes people have - is the area for discussion.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by P. G. Wodehouse- Review

The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by P. G. Wodehouse is a humorous story about the relationship of two people who secretly helped each other. 

The narration started from the scene where a young woman, musician, was going to demand that the young man, a painter who lives upstairs her flat, stop knocking on his floor.

What exactly happened? Readers will only be able to find out after reading the whole story. The author kept the reader intrigued up to the end of the story. 

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Backpack by Tony Earley Review

The short story "Backpack" by Tony Earley was published in 2018 in the magazine The New Yorker.

The story is about a married man, a teacher, who decided without any reasons to secretly leave his family taking only a backpack with him. It wasn't a spontaneous decision. His life up to that point was written shortly in the story and buying a backpack occurred in the sequence of events which the man witnessed.

The narration puts some actual questions about problems in American society as why individuals feel loneliness, what the sources for depression are and what the outcome may be.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

An Official Position by Somerset Maugham -- Review

The author of the story, the classic of British literature William Somerset Maugham, gave a title for the story "An Official Position". It is related to the main character of the story - Louis Remire. He occupied an official position in the prison, he was an executioner, worked with the guillotine. 

Louis Remire was serving a twelve-year sentence at the significant penal settlement of French Guiana, for killing his wife. Despite his past and current harsh job, the author described this person with sympathy.   

During the narration, the author expressed the attitude of the main character toward his life, troubles, and happiness. The story is cruel and at the same time, touching. 

The plot is captivating, and readers don't know the fate of the main character up to the end of the story. The story gave an excellent description of the thin verge between nirvana and disaster, between kindness and evil, between crime, and punishment.

Here is the link to the audio:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Trip to Crete (Greece) in August 2019

The island Crete is usually associated with the warm sea and the sun.

The region Chania represents the greenest part of the island.

We stayed in the hotel Yakinthos. This three-star hotel is located in an excellent place, 30 minutes from the center of the city Chania. There is a nice swimming pool in the hotel. The water is warm and deep enough for a good plunge.

You can see in the picture that there are no people lounging on the sunbeds. Most of the time the swimming pool was empty.

All of the days during our stay at the hotel, we were laying under a shady tree or walking to the sea. It takes only two minutes to walk through a green small road to reach the shore of the sea. The sea was great, clean, warm, and relatively empty. This picture was taken in the morning.

We visited Chania, a beautiful city built in Venetian style, where the harbor and old city are the main tourist attractions.

This region is located in a relatively remote place, three hours by car from the main airport on the island, in Heraklion. Due to the long-distance, we only bought two tickets for the excursion.

The first excursion was to the uninhabited island, Gramvousa, and Bay Balos. There is the old ruined fortress on the hill of the island. Tourists go up to the peak to see the beautiful views from the hill.

The Bay Balos is a very popular place for tourism. It's interesting to see the emerald, crystal-clear water, but swimming there is not convenient because the place is quite crowded.

On the way back there was an incident on the ship. One passenger of our ship had a health issue which was believed to be a heart attack. The ship had to return to the port and it left all passengers in this isolated place. All of us from the ship had to wait for two hours sitting on the stones. Some were in the open sun trying to prevent themselves from getting burnt.

Our next excursion had the title "Unknown Crete". On the way to the final destination, we visited another beautiful city- Rethymno.

We visited a medieval monastery Preveli.

During the last part of this excursion, we visited the south part of the island. This place is quite exotic, it is surrounded by mountains and the sea. The Greek government tries to keep this territory untouched. Only a very few hotels are built there. That is why the excursion bears the name, "Unknown Crete.”

In summary, we can conclude that Crete is an ideal place for a calm, relaxing holiday.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Speed by Sinclair Lewis Review

The short story "Speed" by Sinclair Lewis is written in a style which highlights the high rhythm of life.

This idea implies in many aspects of the story:
  • The title (Speed)
The plot (It is about a racer of car's competition who desires about highest speed to won in competition)
  • The relationships between two main characters (They have only a few minutes to decide if they’ll marry)
The story has a surprisingly happy end. The narration is dynamic and well written.
Here are the links to the text of the story and audio:

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Clean Sweep by Joan Bauer - Review

The short story "Clean Sweep" by Joan Bauer is written like a diary of a young girl who works in her mother’s business - cleaning houses.

The story starts with a description of dust: what it looks like when we see it under the microscope. Things can be seen differently if we pay enough attention to them - this idea was implemented in the main part of the story.

The central action of the story starts when the family got an order to clean the attic of the house of an old lady. She lived alone. The girl suggested to throw away some stuff from the attic: old newspapers and torn books, toys and so on. The landlady disagreed and even became angry with this suggestion. Along with other things, the old lady saw a ragged book which she thought had been taken by her sister. The sisters hadn’t talked for many years. The girl advised the old lady to call her sister but this suggestion was met with indignation. It was clear that these old things aroused a lot of memories for the mistress of the house. The next day, the old lady eventually called her sister and they planned a meeting after many years of being apart.

At the beginning of the story, the author presented that by paying attention we can have a different view (it was inspired by dust). In the last part of the story this idea was expressed with links to memories and it also applies to relationships between people. It certainly has given "food for thought".

This is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury Review

The plot of the short story "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury takes place in the future  (the year 2053 A.D.) but it references a present issue.

The main character of the story, Mr. Leonard Mead, walks during the night alone, through the empty streets. The planet where he lives doesn’t have enough oxygen to breathe, so he takes with him a container of fresh air.

He had been doing it for years and in all that time, he has never met another person along the way. The city was peaceful and calm, criminality had been completely eradicated. The local parliament voted to keep only one of the three police cars which the city previously had before.

One day Mr. Mead was stopped during his walk by the police, they accused him of breaking rules. The author presents this action and shows how it unexpectedly takes place: his arrest had no valid reasons, outwardly the police performed their role as it should be.

Ray Bradbury described how the bureaucratic machine worked, works and will be working into the future. That's the idea readers should begin to work with.

Here is the text of the story (on page 52 of pdf-file):

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Life of Harry Houdini by Tom Lalicki - Review

Most of Tom Lalicki's works present biographies. "The Life of Harry Houdini" belongs to this genre too. This is a story about American magician Harry Houdini.

The author highlighted the very important feature of Harry Houdini's character - persistence in achieving the aim. Success came to him after years of painstaking work. The book can be interesting for people who like learning history through narrations and biographies.

Here is the text of the story:

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Pool by William Somerset Maugham - Review

The story 'The Pool" written by famous British writer William Somerset Maugham is about love. The main character, Scottish mam Mr. Lawson lived on the island Samoe. The island is located in the Pacific ocean close to Australia.

The author used the method of narration from the first side for the beginning and end of the story. The main part, the story of love Mr. Lawson with the girl Ethel was written from the first side. Ethel was a daughter of a native woman and a man from Holland. The author called her and people who had mixture parents - half-caste.

The plot of the narration took place on the island Samoe, in Scotland and on Samoe again. It is a very touching story about unhappy love, differences between cultures, human weaknesses and prejudices. 

Maugham's stories are highlighted by a very rich style, clear message- the main idea and the plot is really captivating. 

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Review: The District Doctor by Ivan Turgenev

The short story “The District Doctor” by Ivan Turgenev belongs to the genre of narrative. The author caught a cold and invited the district physician to his hotel. After some medical procedures were completed, the main characters had a frank conversation during which the district doctor told the story of his life.

The author said "I am going to impart his narrative to the indulgent reader. I shall endeavour to express myself in the physician's words". Ivan Turgenev is a classical Russian writer, his works are studied in schools. One reason for such success is the ability of the author to use the language of simple people. The translation text from Russian to English can't display all the nuances of this folklore.  

The story is very touching, it is a love story without a happy ending. The feelings of people, their thoughts and actions, all of them are very authentic. The slice-of-life narration style conveys perfectly the atmosphere of place and time, where and when the story took place.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: ​Two Friends by Guy de Maupassant

Two Friends by Guy de Maupassant is a touching story about two French fishermen who make an attempt to come back to their hobby (catching fish) during the war with Prussia.

Two main characters indulge in nostalgic memories about the peaceful life they had before the war. The story represents the best qualities of two friends: they are honest, sincere and love their fatherland. The story is realistic and tragic, without a happy ending.

Here is the link to the text of the story (page 24 in the file):

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Movie review: Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick

The movie "Barry Lyndon" by Stanley Kubrick represents a genre of epic historical costume drama surrounding Europe in the 18th century. The plot is based on a free interpretation of the novel written by a classic author of British literature, William Makepeace Thackeray.

The movie starts with the scene of a duel where Barry's father is killed. At the beginning of the movie, a young Irishman, Barry Lyndon, falls in love with his cousin. He was shy and honest. With youthful confidence, he defers his honor calling for a duel with a captain of the British army who made efforts to establish a romantic relationship with Barry's girl. They had the duel after which Lyndon had to leave his homeplace.

Barry Lyndon experienced many adventures during his life. He was robbed, served in the army as a simple soldier along with lower-class people. He was a hero during the war in Europe, a wastrel in high society, a gambler, husband and father. The plot is really interesting as it captures the attention of the viewers, as Kubrick portrays the time and lives of these people in a realistic manner. He is able to capture the emotions and complexities of the time.

Stanley Kubrick very cleverly makes use of the paintings of that period as a reference for both costume and make up for the characters in the film. He is also able to encapsulate the trails and tribulations of the time period.

This movie is less famous than other Kubrick's works like “The Shining” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but it should definitely be classified as a masterpiece. It is highly recommended to watch.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Ant and the Grasshopper by William Somerset Maugham Review

William Somerset Maugham began the short story "The Ant and the Grasshopper" by using the same name in the fable of La Fontaine. According to this fable, the ant worked hard during the summer preparing shelter and food for the winter. The grasshopper, however, was singing the whole summer and when the winter came, he asked the ant for food, to which the ant answered: "You sang. Why, then go and dance."

The author described in the story the life of two brothers: George and Tom. Tom was a careless person. He spent his life at parties and gambling, borrowed money without aim to return it. Society did not approve of his lifestyle. Though he was forty–six he looked as young as thirty–five. George was only a year older than his carefree brother and he looked sixty. He always did what was to be done, worked hard, saved money for his retirement.

What happened in the story and the author's opinion about the moral of the fable in real circumstances ... readers will know about it after reading this funny short story.

Here is the link to the text of the story:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

​Airport by Pauline Kaldas Review

The short story "Airport" by Pauline Kaldas described the time before the meeting of two people who were going to marry but they had never met before.

The first character, the young man Samir, went to an American airport to meet his fiancé who flew in from Egypt. A few years ago Samir came to the USA after he won a green card lottery. The second character, Hoda, was a girl who planned her future life in the US.

Thanks to the writer's skill readers can feel the atmosphere of expectation of uncertainty in the story. The main characters focused on their thoughts, doubts and they see life around them as a parallel reality. Let's look at the first paragraph as an example:

"He paced the airport waiting room, his steps marking a path in the carpet between the rows of seats. At first those sitting down looked up at this man who could not hold his feet still like the rest of them and curb his agitation. After a while, some returned to their own thoughts or families. A few kept their gaze on his coming and going, perhaps to ease their own turmoil. Even after he left, a few repeated his path with their eyes as if permanently held by the ghost of his movement."

The story is short. It doesn't have an outcome. The readers know that these two people are ready to overcome possible difficulties. The main characters suffered being alone at the beginning of the narration but they had a hope to find their happiness. The happy ending wasn't described by the author but it likely will come.

This a link for pdf-file where the text of the story can be found on page 116:

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Along The Moscow River, Russia (June the 2st, 2019)

The photos below were taken on June 2, 2019 along The Moscow River in the part of the city which is located close to the centre of Moscow.

This is the view of The Moscow River from the Vorobyevskaya Embankment. The skyscrapers of the Moscow-city district are behind the trees.

These fountains are especially popular during hot days. Children and adults like running inside this structure and play with water.

This is the view from the Park Museon toward Moscow Kremlin. One tower of Kremlin is slightly visible far ahead. The tremendously big sculpture on the right represents the most respectable Russian Tsar Peter the Great.

This day in Gorky Park was the “Arena of Heroes” competition. The brave girl, Katerina, is on the way to a successful finish. The crowd around endorsed her by applauding.

Riding on bicycles has become a very popular activity in Moscow.

This picture represents the beauty of the city’s landschaft. People enjoy walking along the river.