The Brummstein


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Reviews of Literature in Translation, Crime, and Young Adult Fiction

Although the current social and political landscape of Denmark make it a natural setting for contemporary crime writing, the country has, until recently, remained in the shadow of its Nordic neighbors in this respect. This is not to say that Denmark is lacking authors of mysteries, crime stories, and thrillers of all stripes—merely that those authors have not generally made their way into English translation, and more particularly, into the American market. You have just entered a long, bitter winter.

Here there are no free rides. Here you are left to your own fate.

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Copenhagen Noir serves as a sort of shadowy primer to the growing insecurities and upheavals taking place in Denmark today. Gone is the provincial city appointed as capitol; instead, one is confronted with a metropolis where the food is from the Middle East, the wine from California, the women from Africa, and the mafia from Russia. A new word at these latitudes, where crime formerly took place among bands identified with city neighborhoods and regions.

A threat from without characterizes many, if not most, of the stories in the collection. Within the collection, these Others tend to fill three basic roles: But as Akashic Books has cleverly ascertained with its noir series, a large swath of avid crime readers are also armchair travelers, so Copenhagen Noir is also thankfully peppered with unique, regionally-specific details which subtly convey the cityscape and cultural customs of Copenhagen and Danes in general.

These small details add to the overall picture of Copenhagen, and balance out the otherwise grim portrait of pimps, prostitutes, and ominous outsiders that frequent the collection. Review originally published on Reviewing the Evidence, here. Although Nordic crime fiction has gained an incredible prominence on the world stage, Denmark has never been at the forefront of this movement.

One could speculate, however, that Danish authors are having their moment now: Just a few weeks later, the perpetrator murders his second victim, making it even more pressing that Louise and her colleagues make an arrest. Unfortunately, there are two significant problems that loom over the story.

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For one, the plot is pervaded with head-smacking coincidences and the kind of farcical investigative ploys that anyone who has watched a few episodes of Law and Order will recognize as completely unworkable. The most obvious reason is that this sort of situation would be dangerous for both the police officers and the victim. Moreover, this kind of set-up is completely devoid of empathy towards a person who has just endured a serious trauma.

This latter point brings us to the other, more disheartening problem about Call Me Princess. This is a novel written by a female author, about a female police officer who is investigating a string of heinous crimes against women. Given this, one might expect a substantial level of empathy throughout the book. This makes sense, certainly. But more often than not, it just makes Louise Rick a difficult detective to root for. The main character, a Norwegian man named Roger Brown British father , is having an affair with a Danish woman.

During a morning tryst, he recalls:. So I did some light googling and voila! I easily found an interesting and brief article on this very subject published recently in The Copenhagen Post: The article goes on to explain that there are nine vowel sounds in Danish, but to make matters even more difficult, much of Danish pronunciation is swallowed. I can personally attest to this: The linguist in the article, Dorthe Bleses, compared the rate at which children growing up with seven different languages—Danish, Swedish, Dutch, French, American English, Croatian, and Galician—learn to speak their native tongue.

And Danish definitely gave children the hardest time. But never fear, says Bleses. The Danes do catch up:. Although many Nordic countries have successfully exported their most popular crime authors to the US, Denmark is not traditionally the Scandinavian nation that American readers associate with mayhem and violence.

The novel, according to reviewer Anne Mette Lundtofte, presented a unique portrait of Danish history and culture:. This new perspective on a small country has in turn made the book popular on the international market, where it has sold to 11 different countries, including England and the US.

The Brummstein by Peter Adolphsen ,. This astonishing novel begins in , when Josef Siedler, a science-fiction devotee, ventures deep into a series of caves in search of an entrance to the underworld. Disappointed in his quest, he nonetheless returns with a peculiar souvenir: For as the stone passes through the hands of a series of owners, it collects their experiences: In The Brummstein , Danish author Peter Adolphsen has spun a mystical—and movingly memorable—exploration of the meaning of life. Paperback , 86 pages.

Published July 12th by AmazonCrossing first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Brummstein , please sign up. Lists with This Book.


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Now the overall average rating is 3. I've been reading the right people, then. It's a story which follows the successive owners of an object - an idea I've loved since childhood, but which is saved unexpectedly from cliche by being used only rarely in adult fiction. The Brummstein - the title for some reason untranslated from Danish - is a humming stone.

The early chapters are full of geology and the development of the theory of plate tectonics which I for one loved hearing about, some revision, a little new - a very calming subject. An early twentieth century German amateur scientist, hoping to find a gateway to the underworld, explores deep in a Swiss cave system, and discovers rock which hums and tremors, and chips off a piece.

The Brummstein Free Audiobook

He stores it in a box with a note exhorting some future owner to investigate it. The rest of the story has a heartwarming charm but never neglects the grimmer aspects of history, and, as others have noted, also a nihilistic, fatalistic streak. Another female character stood out as so very real, with antisocial living-alone habits a mixture of the traditionally 'feminine' and 'masculine': All this and a sort of person I'd understand and like in a brief sketch made a lot of characters in far longer works seem stereotyped by contrast. The Brummstein clearly isn't to everyone's liking, but I became very attached to this odd little story.

Het is even nadenken bij het lezen van dit dunne boekje, nadenken en herlezen om te snappen wat gezegd wordt Geologie voor dummies, gelinkt aan een bijzondere steen en meerdere levensgeschiedenissen, gelinkt aan de Europese geschiedenis. Een klein pareltje waarbij je je niet mag laten afschrikken door de zwaarte van de zinnen maar gewoon kan en mag proberen volgen. Jul 30, Mark Rice rated it really liked it. This little novella took me quite by surprise.

Peter Adolphsen has created characters who are archetypal, original and utterly believable. I enjoyed the gorgeously geographic description of how subterranean caves are formed. I loved the cyclical nature of the story, which goes full circle over the course of a century. Josef doesn't find the opening he seeks, but at the nadir of the caves discovers a humming rock that deafens him for ten minutes when he presses his ear to it. He chisels off a piece of this mysterious stone and takes it back to the surface.

The rest of the novella follows the rock's journey from keeper to keeper, decade to decade, through two World Wars and communist regimes, until it is eventually returned to the cave from whence it came.


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I recommend it as a good way of spending an hour or two. Jun 25, Leif rated it liked it. A slim novella concerned with a historical take on an ahistorical subject: Geological continuity stresses the humans whose lives the rock crosses through suffering and through joy - more of the former than the latter, I must say. It is not inaccurate. At the end of the sitting, you might be left a little empty, slightly confused. There are many apertures onto human life in this short narrative. They do not ha A slim novella concerned with a historical take on an ahistorical subject: They do not happen to be revelatory ones.

Aug 25, Maya Panika rated it really liked it. Hardly even a novella, The Brummstein is very short, just 78 pages. I loved it, the writing had a softness, a gentle touch which was very beguiling, the story - of a strange geological specimen that passes from hand to hand - was utterly compelling and I wished with all my heart there had been more of it, MUCH more; this is not a story that can be told at this length, this is a story that needs a good, solid , words or more to truly meet its promise.

The characters were wonderful, but they Hardly even a novella, The Brummstein is very short, just 78 pages. The characters were wonderful, but they were skeletons in desperate need of flesh. Each vignette of a tale held the seed of something tremendous, but they weren't in any way sufficient to tell this tale as it ought to be told, they really needed chapter length exposition to fully develop. A truly great short story is perfect as it is, it gives you all you need in just a few perfect paragraphs; The Brummstein wasn't that, it was just a novel cut short, which seems a shame, and a terrible waste.

But I'd still recommend it, it's much too short but it's a wonderful story, and beautifully told. Sep 02, Cathy rated it really liked it. I finished my 78 page book The Brummstein which is probably a novella. Based very much on geology and not science fiction but science fact. Intelligent, well thought out with some interesting observations about humanity versus rocks. The human spirit versus geological continuity and durability. It is a book in translation and the English is impeccable.

It is a very cleverly constructed piece which touches on the meaning of human existence, life, the universe and everything. It was a quick read b I finished my 78 page book The Brummstein which is probably a novella.

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The Brummstein

It was a quick read but added so much perspective to my thinking. It was interesting to see how much each person revered the humming rock Der Brummstein. It is that reverence which becomes a key factor in the story as it unfolds. Economically written but profound in its impact.

The Brummstein by Peter Adolphsen | Review | Historical Novels Review

I could have read more! Feb 10, Larissa rated it really liked it Shelves: Review published at Three Percent: Beginning in , and ending over eighty years later, the novella Review published at Three Percent: Beginning in , and ending over eighty years later, the novella follows a mysteriously humming stone found deep within a Swiss cave through its series of unlikely owners: In following the ownership of the stone, The Brummstein also traces a crash course through European German history—in less than 80 pages, the reader experiences both World Wars, Spanish Flu, the rise of the Soviet GDR, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But, rather than focus on a larger, more sweeping narrative, The Brummstein is told on a much more personal, human scale. In the West, the process of comprehending this vast expanse of time commenced just one and a half geological seconds ago Machine , with its first page explanations of the petrification of a prehistoric horse, which eons later becomes a drop of gasoline, maintains the same delightful tone.

Latest Review: "The Brummstein" by Peter Adolphsen

But this is precisely what Adolphsen excels at. After his apartment was destroyed by Allied air raids, Georg moves to a railway station lost and found hut: He was driven by a noble motive: One of the suitcases might contain a tin of goulash or a bag of boiled sweets. He organized clothing such as coats and hats in neat piles at one end of the hut, making sure that each item retained its original ticket. Then he turned his attention to the suitcases, briefcases, et cetera. One by one he placed them on the table, and feeling like a surgeon with a patient on the operating table, he opened them up and laid out the contents in regimented lines.

Then he returned the items in reverse order less anything he needed, which included two fountain pens, a small pile of books, a little money, some clothes, and an antique pocket watch. Whenever he took something, he would replace it with a small note with a brief description of the object and the following sentence: More than one character is dispatched in a freak accident—for instance, a married couple survives Spanish Flu only to be crushed by a chaise lounge falling from an apartment window. The narrative also drops off abruptly and unresolved, which may be alluding to the continuation of the story outside of the novella, but instead feels slightly apathetic.

Overall, it is a remarkably creative, unique, and resonant work, which can—and should—be read in one satisfying sitting. Oct 06, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: This odd little work by a Danish writer appears to be an exploration of time and humanity, and the preeminence of the former over the latter. I say "appears" because it's an oblique work that makes several references to the span of geologic time in relation to that of recorded human history, but its ultimate meaning is very much open to interpretation.

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Either way, it certainly doesn't drag the reader in: That stor This odd little work by a Danish writer appears to be an exploration of time and humanity, and the preeminence of the former over the latter. That story in as much as there is one , revolves around a mysterious fragment of vibrating stone, and follows its series of owners across the 20th century a narrative device that's been used to great effect in fiction and film, the most recent well-known example probably being Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes.

The stone then passes through several hands over the course of the two World Wars, Cold War, and beyond, allowing Adolphson to peek into the lives of ordinary Germans affected by the tides of history -- while always reminding the reader that the cataclysmic events being experienced by his characters are mere nanoseconds in the span of geologic time. Indeed, the central theme appears to be that however extraordinary we believe the events of our life to be, they are completely insignificant on a macro level.

While that might be interesting on a metaphysical level, it didn't prove to be all that engaging to me. I did like the windows into time and place, and found them to be well crafted, the larger themes the author appeared to be grappling with didn't inspire me. Apr 23, wally rated it liked it Shelves: First from this writer, begins: The constant orogeny of the Alps is caused by the breakup of the microcontinent Adria from Africa in the Jurassic, its subsequent rotation over the then existing Tethys Sea, and its collision with Eurasia; if we apply the famous metaphor which depicts the Earth's age as a calendar year, when dinosaurs become extinct on Boxing Day, hominids emerge on New Year's Eve, and when, at the time of writing, ten seconds have passed since the Roman Empire's five seconds expir First from this writer, begins: The constant orogeny of the Alps is caused by the breakup of the microcontinent Adria from Africa in the Jurassic, its subsequent rotation over the then existing Tethys Sea, and its collision with Eurasia; if we apply the famous metaphor which depicts the Earth's age as a calendar year, when dinosaurs become extinct on Boxing Day, hominids emerge on New Year's Eve, and when, at the time of writing, ten seconds have passed since the Roman Empire's five seconds expired, then these events took place on December 19 and 23 respectively.

Monday, 23 APR 12 ummm.

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