Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bambert's book of missing stories by Reinhardt Jung

I fell up on this book, quite by accident, in the The Cook Book St Just, a treasure trove of second hand books. I have never heard of Reinhardt Jung, an Austrian author, before, but the story was translated by Anthea Bell, and I am a huge fan of hers, as she translates all the Asterix books, which I have loved since childhood.

Bambert's book of missing stories is about a writer who lives on his own, in the attic above a grocer's shop. Bambert is vulnerable, not able to be very active because of the pain he suffers, so he stays at home and writes stories, while the grocer makes sure that he gets everything that he needs. Bambert likes to sit and talk to the moon at night, and he has written a book called the Book of Wishes, which is made up of 11 stories. He decides to send them out, via balloon, into the world to see where they will land, and he asked the finders to return them to him, telling him where the stories have landed. Those locations then become the settings for those stories. Story titles include:

  • The Waxworks Cabinet - the story of a boy who was rewarded by the waxworks he cleaned up. This was one of my favourites.
  • The Strange Game - so moving as it was about a child living in Sarajevo during the war.
  • The Flight of the Dolls from Paris - a mysterious story about a little girl who found lots of doll parts on the beach.
  • Red Stocking, Black Coat - a story of a child living in a village ruled by a greedy count, and how the boy used cunning to make sure he was fed. It reminded me of an Aesop's fable.

This book is aimed at children, but the stories can be enjoyed by all. They are beautiful, and magical, some sad, but all hopeful, thought-provoking, and full of wisdom. I loved this book. It feel's like a treasure, and reminds me of other books, particularly Michael Ende's Neverending Story, or The Little Prince. Stefan Zweig, another favourite author of mine, is also Austrian. I love Austria, so it is a wonderful surprise to discover they have such fabulous authors. If you can recommend any more, please let me know!

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