Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amy Levy

In the long, sad time, when the sky was grey,
And the keen blast blew through the city drear,
When delight had fled from the night and the day,
My chill heart whispered, " June will be here!

" June with its roses a-sway in the sun,
Its glory of green on mead and tree."
Lo, now the sweet June-tide is nearly done,
June-tide, and never a joy for me

-from A June-Tide Echo

I loved Amy Levy's portrayal of a different London then we most commonly know in Reuben Sachs, and am so grateful Persephone republished it (and that Carrick brought it back from the shop personally)...her poetry is also something not to be missed...

Can you guess where I am leaving for on Sunday with this weeks postings?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

The True Deceiver

As beautifully as Tove Jansson described summer life in The Summer Book, she captures the same magic of winter in The True Deceiver.  Both recommendations came from Simon at Stuck in a Book, and I couldn't be more appreciative.  I've been introduced to an amazing writer.

Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin are two women living in the same village from completely different backgrounds.  While Anna is older, admired and originally from the village (everything is written in reference to lightness with her), Katri is yellow-eyed, mysterious, brutally honest, always in black and an outsider with her younger brother.  Katri is a genius with numbers and has 'helped' all in the village.  Anna a bit of a air-head (?) is her next victim, so-to-say, and the story continues on from there.

The relationship morphs subtlety but fiercly all with the background of the endlessly snowy winter transforming into spring.  As the story continues we start to wonder who really is the victim is it Anna or Katri?  The townsfolk were also incredible characters in their own way, gossiping, showing their mistrust to any outsider, all with a blue-eyed smile. 

Ruth Rendell aptly said:  "I felt transported to that remote region of Sweden and wheni I finished I read it all over again.  The characters still haunt me."

The landscape reminded me of the snowy winters back home in Rhode Island near the sea.  I took the above photo last year before I moved to Italy.  And I leave you with Lykke Li, who's video I kept referencing in my head whilst reading about Katri Kling.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Shall we let this lovely video welcome us into the weekend? 

The good news is Sigur Rós is coming to Verona, so I'll finally be able to go see them.  The bad news is no one I know here knows who they are.  A solution must be found!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Una Barca nel Bosco

Gaspare Torrente, in Una Barca nel Bosco (A Boat in the Forest) by Paola Mastrocola, is the son of a fisherman, a brilliant Latin student who grew up in a small island. His teachers insist he has a promising future ahead of him, so to Torino he moves with his Mother, leaving his father behind. Both of his parents sacrifice so much for him as they want him to have a better life than they did.

The novel follows his experiences moving to a city from a small island, his struggles to fit it, his falling in love, and the good and bad decisions he makes. He is like 'a boat in a forest,' a fish out of water in this new life. It read a bit like Charlie's story in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a favorite of mine. The moments of discovery were so relatable you can't help but twinge/chuckle to yourself. Gaspare also has this somewhat brilliant obsession with raising plants that makes you wonder if has some sort of autistic tendencies.

But where The Perks of Being a Wallflower ends when Charlie isn't quite finished with high school, Gaspare's tale thankfully continues on to University. His best friend Furio leaves for Berkeley, leaving Gaspare somewhat alone, and somewhat spiteful that he doesn't have the money to leave Italy for school and that he can't leave his plants behind. Instead of becoming the great Latinist everyone (including himself) thought, but instead a Graduate of Law, writing a thesis that is published in an important magazine.

Years pass and Gaspare and Furio meet by coincidence in the bar the Gaspare now owns. He didn't become a Latinist, he didn't become a lawyer, his plants were to occupying, so he opened up a bar. Furio saves the day by using Gaspare's knowledge of botany and his engineering background to invent living apartments, where they become a great success.
The last chapter is a lovely letter to his father who passed away alone on the island, recounting everything that he regrets, what really happened while he was away, and how he wishes somethings were different. In my opinion, the last chapter made the book.
I felt great similarities with Gaspare, which I think is the reason why my teacher recommended it to me in the first case. We both have father's who are fisherman, and at that age I stupidly felt quite ashamed of his profession. We just wanted dad's who have normal office jobs. I think if I left home at 14 I would have similar feelings about missing the sea like Gaspare did, as I miss it everyday and I'm 25. My teachers in high school always told me I was going to be a CEO of a company by time I was 21 and obviously that hasn't happened. Just like anyone, life happens and the dreams of childhood aren't always the right ones.

It's a pity Mastrocola hasn't been translated into English, as this book would be so poignant for everyone at any age. It won the Premio Campiello, a prestigious literary award, in 2004 and needs to be in the hands of more people. Maybe my career as the next William Weaver (sarcasm) will someday start with this book.