Friday, December 30, 2022

After dark - Murakami Haruki

I try, I always do, I swear. I really try not to buy another book by this author when, while walking past the bookstore section dedicated to him, a novel that I still haven’t read catches my eye. The first thought that comes to mind is: “Come on, your reading list is so long and varied, and you’ve already read quite a few of Harukis’s books recently, no need to buy another one so soon!” Famous (and useless) last words, I think, while I walk out of the shop intrigued by the synopsis that I’m reading on the last page of the paperback I’ve just purchased.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Prague cemetery (Il cimitero di Praga) - Umberto Eco

It happened a few times while I was abroad. I said that I was from Italy and the person with whom I was speaking suddenly informed me that their favorite author was also Italian. Once they even asked me to guess who it was. Dante? I thought. No, too old. Montale? Too obscure. Volo? Come on! I give up, who is it? But of course, Umberto Eco! That was their answer. Eco? Wow, I’m surprised, I said. But why was I surprised, then? I have read my first Eco’s novel when I was a kid (if you guessed “The name of the rose”, well, you guessed right) and I have read every novel by him that I came across ever since. I loved each and every one of them. There was no reason to be surprised at all.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The emperor of all maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee

I’ve already introduced Siddhartha Mukherjee when I reviewed “The gene”. What I said about Oliver Sacks is true for Mukherjee as well: a great scientist with outstanding literary skills.
He studied biology - that’s why he wrote a book about genetics - and works as a haematologist and oncologist, hence this work about cancer. A great book about a terrible subject, some might say.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Thus bad begins (Así empieza lo malo) - Javier Marías

In this novel Javier Marías makes use of a literary technique that has been employed in the past by some very famous colleagues of him: Francis Scott Fitzgerald (The great Gatsby) and Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's), just to name a few.
The main character, with whom the readers become very acquainted as the story unfolds, is actually just a proxy through which the author tells his story: he acts as a mere narrator and has little or no impact on the plot, besides observing and relaying, of course. On top of that the plot itself is not particularly engaging or original. Why did you read the book then? Or why are you recommending it? You’ll be asking. Because the plot is not necessarily what makes a book a good book.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The scent of India (L'odore dell'India) - Pierpaolo Pasolini

In 1961, Pierpaolo Pasolini - Italian poet, novelist, journalist and film director - joined colleague authors Alberto Moravia and Elsa Morante on a month-long trip to India.
The entries in this travel diary mostly reflect the author’s reactions to the situations he’s experiencing in terms of feelings and sensations - and some cultural/religious interpretation - rather than being cool headed rational, sociological and political explanations of them. India comes out as a barren, dirty and bad smelling pile of shaky buildings, open-air sewers, busy roads and temples, populated by a vast majority of multi-religious, ragged, placid, kind and sweet people, and a still new, stunned and unprepared well-off minority, whose only human strengths are their webs of family ties.