Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Daniel Glattauer, "Le ho mai raccontato del vento del Nord"

 – e-book

Lettura:  20-27 aprile 2015

Il mio voto:

Chi ha mai detto che il romanzo epistolare è morto, oppure almeno antiquato, poiché nessuno ha più la pazienza di scrivere lettere? Sicuramente uno che ha dimenticato il fascino delle Lettere persiane di Rousseau, dei Dolori del giovane Werther di Goethe e soprattutto del capolavoro che sia Le relazioni pericolose di Laclos.

Monday, April 27, 2015

John Gray, "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships"

– Harper Perennial, 1994 ISBN 0-06-092-642-2

Read from  April 14th to 26th  2015

My rating:

Love. User's Manual

Do you remember the bunch of books Bridget Jones used to carry about in order to make sense of her weird and chaotic life? One of them was just this one, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and because of its longish and kinda stupidish, funnyish title, I assumed, when I saw the movie, it was merely an amusing invention to go with the giddy thirtish female character (as you see I’ve just discovered magic of the “-ish” suffix in the economy of the text). 

So imagine my surprise when I found the book was very real (hey, in my defence what I recall happened some eight years ago!) and very famous (according to Wikipedia it sold millions of copies). Meanwhile I’ve heard and read a lot of allusions about this book but although I bought it by mild curiosity from an antique book store several years ago, I’ve let it collect dust on my to-read shelf, for it was always another book more inciting to choose. Until now, that is.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., "Slaughterhouse Five or The Children’s Crusade. A Duty-dance with Death"

 – e-book

Read from April 17th to 22nd 2015

My rating:  

Pillars of Salt

What you notice right away in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five or The Children’s Crusade. A Duty-dance with Death (which is by the way all in all a masterpiece of narrative construction) is the concentric structure: there is a story that leads to a book, there is the story of the book and the story within the book. These three concentric circles (if you wish you can name each of them with one of the three titles of the novel) are drawn by three narrators: the Author who lived to tell the story and the “me and I” narrators: one who tells the story of Bill Pilgrim in a discreet, maybe even unreliable way, and one who witnesses him only from the crowd of American prisoners and feels like asserting himself in front of the reader, too, in order to give credibility not only to facts but also to the main character.

The Author is Yon Yonson from Wisconsin, who fought in the WW2, and became a prisoner, and witnessed the destruction of Dresden, and wants to write a book about it and who is, at this point, an alter ego of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who fought in the WW2, and became a prisoner, and witnessed the destruction of Dresden, and wrote a book (this one) about it. The Author’s voice dominates the beginning and the end of the book, framing the inside story in rough edges, that is, revealing what his story was before polishing it, in an amazing mixture of fiction and Metafiction, for Yon Yonson from Wisconsin is not only the Author but also the “I”, a character, with one foot, so to speak, outside his own novel and the other one inside.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Zadie Smith, "White Teeth"

– e-book

Read from March 26th to April 15th 2015

My Rating:

“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.”

In a famous short story, Henry James suggests that any work of art has a secret meaning, waiting to be discovered. He calls it “the figure in the carpet”. I’ve always thought, taking this metaphor to the extreme, that there are many kinds of carpets, and that sometimes you can figure the figure, so to speak, simply by contemplating the visible part of it, but in most cases you have to turn it upside down to study the number of knots, the direction and the overlapping of the threads – that is, the episodic characters and the eventual red herrings, the narrative layers, the time frame, etc. Obviously, a complicated inside out does not necessarily mean a beautifully elaborated figure and vice versa, a deceivingly complicated pattern is sometimes realized with few pinpricks. But it also happens that the result be an intricate design both on front and back.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Margaret Atwood, "The Penelopiad"

 – Alfred A. Knopf, Canada 2005 ; ISBN 0-676-97418-X

Read from April 17th to 9th 2015

My rating:

I’m not the first to say that, even though I could hardly remember the episode of the twelve maids’ hanging in Penelope’s myth, after reading Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad I will never forget it again.

As you probably know, this novella was written as part of an ambitious and interesting project called “Canongate Myth Series” and started by the Scottish publishing house Canongate Books, which challenged over a hundred authors to rewrite universal myths. It is said that the first choice of the author was a Norse legend, followed by a Native American one, but in the end she remembered the twelve maids from Odyssey and decided to make them speak for themselves, together with Penelope, as she states in the Introduction:

I’ve chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids. The maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of The Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ian McEwan, "Saturday"

– Vintage Canada Edition, 2006 ISBN 978-0-676-97762-2

Read from to April 2nd 2014

My rating:

“…here as on a darkling plain”

Freud, I think, said once that the man’s main objective in life, the pursuit of happiness, is prevented by at least one of the following factors: his own body, the external world and the relationships with the others. Family, which could be his refuge and personal heaven is continuously threatened by a society that cannot permit isolation which would lead to its extinction.