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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Blood of Montenegro - Bajram Angelo Koljenovic, James Nathan Post Montenegro.Koljenovic describes his family's and his own experiences, perhaps, as ethnic Muslims in Montenegro over the last century, interspersing the personal story with historical events, notably the rise of Tito. I have relatives who worked in the region over several decades. One once told me, "The tradition of strong oral history there means that grievances and slights of hundreds of years ago are still felt to be immediate and fresh." That assessment is certainly supported here, where both long-ago massacres and current verbal offenses casting aspersions on one's mother are reasons to kill a man.This book characterizes itself as "semi-autobiographical historical creative non-fiction, that is, work incorporating some historical facts and persons, and some of which are fictionalized." While I appreciate the disclaimer, this makes it difficult to know what I'm reading. If it's mostly fiction, then the long excursions into Montenegrin and Balkans history are, while interesting, lengthy and not sufficiently integrated with the personal story. This ambiguity of genre seems to have made it difficult for Koljenovic to focus his story, and its self-published nature doesn't help because no formal editor has shaped it. If this is mostly non-fiction, then the personal sections increasingly read like James Frey, where the narrator frequently asserts how dangerous and successful he and his friends are. They may be, but it's hard to determine. If the balance is more toward fiction than memoir, it seems boastful rather than informative. Koljenovic insists on committing interpersonal violence in the name of his code of honor, but insists that his economic crimes against both persons and states don't make him less patriotic. Again, without knowing what's fiction and what's not, it's hard to respond to this.The language is frequently stilted and dialogue overly formal and expository. Problems of tense, spelling, and missing words are consistent but not too frequent and don't detract overall. The omission of diacriticals makes it harder to pronounce names and places. Read this not for literary quality but because it provides a window on Montenegrin life and politics in the 20th century.