Books in Brief: Black Milk, The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant and Stork Mountain

 Source: Personal Copy

Translated from the Spanish by Kristina Cordero

The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo Tusset

Five words from the blurb: obscenely, family, disappears, business, adventure

I bought this book because I was intrigued by the title. It was a fast paced, mildly amusing, thriller, but unfortunately it has dated badly. It was only published in 2001, but the details of dial-up internet/paper trail investigation etc made the reading experience feel quite weird. I also found that the continual swearing and male humor wore thin after a while. There were several good passages and the plot maintained a good momentum throughout, but the high philosophy of the ending was a bit bizarre and not in keeping with the rest of the book.

It was probably a good book ten years ago, but sadly only an average read now.

 Source: Free review copy received from publisher

Stork Mountain by Mirislav Penkov

Five words from the blurb: Bulgaria, grandfather, mysteries, ghosts, past

This book began really well, with a dramatic scene involving a sandstorm. The imagery and emotion was impressive and I will remember it for a long time.

The story revolves around an American student returning to Bulgaria to find his grandfather.  Details of Bulgarian history/mythology are given throughout and I loved the way realistic elements were blended with fantastical ones.

Unfortunately Stork Mountain didn’t quite work as a whole. Mirislav Penkov is clearly a talented writer, but the individual scenes didn’t connect well and I frequently found myself losing interest. I’m pleased that I read this book as I now feel more informed about the history of this area, but the author’s skill still lies with short stories for now.


Black Milk: On Motherhood and WritingSource: Library

Black Milk by Elif Shafak

Five words from the blurb: author, motherhood, conflict, history, depression

Black Milk looks the impact motherhood had on the lives of many famous authors – including Ayn Rand, Doris Lessing and George Eliot. It also details the author’s own experiences – which involve a dark depression and conflicting thoughts on whether or not authors benefit from having a child.

The book contained many interesting passages, but unfortunately it became a bit repetitive. I suppose this highlighted the fact that experiences of motherhood are the same the world over, but it led to me losing interest.

I also found the author’s conversations with her internal ‘finger-women’ a bit odd. It was good to see this side of her culture, but these passages jarred with the beautifully researched information in the rest of the book.

Black Milk is essential reading for anyone interested in feminist issues, but its repetitive nature means it is perhaps best read in sections, rather than all at once.


2 replies on “Books in Brief: Black Milk, The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant and Stork Mountain”

Alex, Yes, I’m surprised it isn’t more widely reviewed. I guess it was published before the majority of people started blogging (2007) and so missed the boat a bit. It is perfect discussion material for those interested in how writing is influenced by an author’s life. I’m sure some bloggers will LOVE it. Perhaps we can start a trend and it will be everywhere before you know it!

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