On the nightstand – 8

Books I’ve read in (half) July, have you read any of these? ^^


The Metamorphosis by F.Kafka – here it is, the classic of the month, I’ll straightly confess my ignorance: I did not know it was a short novel. But what to say about it, after the struggle Q has been, this book was a breeze! The POV, the descriptions, the reactions, the human nature. You know what? I think I’ve finally pinpointed what I like in books: when characters are belieavable as people, and not idealized (at this you could say “Wow, hey, you reinvented the wheel girl”, oh, I know, but I have my own time to figure out things… After all, if you think about it thouhg, it is not so easy getting rid of Mary Sue and such!).

The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – talking about Mary Sue and Gary Stu… The plot is quite enjoyable, allright, I read this book in a few days, it develops easily… but it felt like reading some kind of first draft of a creative writing exercise: dialogues were absolutely unbelievable and the characters were one-dimensional… And what really irked me was that need of explaining all the things, all the time, in all the sentences… Isn’t it better, sometimes, to leave something open to interpretation? To let me -the reader- grasp things with my own intellect? Don’t they always say “Show, don’t tell”??? But what really set me off was -in such a plot of misantropy, of a girl who only communicates throuhg the language of flowers- three entire chapters describing pregnancy, giving birth and the trouble and super-powerful love to feel for the newborn… Oh hell no, thank you but no, come on!!!

The Legacy by Katherine Webb – This is yet another book my mom got for a bargain, just like the one above. But you can immediately tell the english author, I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but the weaving of the plot is more charming, the characters are a little bit more wholesome, and the dialogues are actually believable. I’m not asking for much, am I? A nice plot, characters I can relate to and dialogues that are indeed dialogues and not really bad theatre!!! Too bad for the first pages who spoil the ending (if you read well)… but oh well.

Il disagio della libertà by Corrado Augias – The title of this short italian essay can be translated with “The discomfort of freedom”, not exactly a summer read, you know the kind: lightheaded, funny… No, this is totally the opposite. But I couldn’t picture myself reading such an essay (on why apparently italians are so inclined on giving up true freedom for fake forms of so-called-freedom) in december, when it’s dark at noon, and it’s cold, and you can’t go anywhere… At least these days I can close the book, look out the window, see the sun and say “There is still hope!”. This reading reminded me of university times, not just for the topic itself, the names quoted in it (Harendt, Mills, Beccaria), but also because it seem to me that, when I’m reading such matters, my ears and my brain take it in differently, more deeply. Like I’m reading with another part of me. Is it hitting a nerve? WHo knows… Anyway, it’s a good essay and, if you read it with a philosophical approach, you wouldn’t stop discussing about it, for the hints in it are many: there are concepts of freedom, of society, of national identity, of family, of infividualism, of justice, of equality, and so on and so forth.
But this essay has the same downturn it pinpointed in one of his chapters: it’s an “intellectual” book -a good one indeed- but it’s not tailored to the general population nor (even thought I’d really bring such topics into schools) to youngsters’ education. So what?

The Full Monty by Wendy Holden – After that short essay I really needed something fun and summery!!! A thing I really liked, and I think was missing in the movie (or maybe I’m the only one who thinks it’s there) it’s the irony of subversed gender-roles: the man, being a househusband vacuuming, taking the kids to school, being offended at his wife for going to stripclubs but justifying her by saying “Well, it’s her money after all, isn’t it?”. Wonderful. Somehow sad, but really satisfying.

Angela’s ashes Frank McCourt – I remember seeing this book years ago on my mom’s nightstand and she telling me, teary eyed, “When I’m done reading it, read it too, it’s so hilarious, it’s about this disgraced irish family, but he tells it in such a way…!”. I have to say I wasn’t impressed. Some weeks ago, talking books with friends, they come up saying “Oh, another book I loved is Angela’s ashes”, now, I have the memory span of a goldfish, so I messed it up with “The lovely bones” (don’t ask why or how) and I go like “Yeah, good book!” but when they go on saying “It’s so fun!” I start to wonder if I read the right book… I think about it and I realize my mistake, I realize that no, I’ve never read Angela’s ashes, I realize that The lovely bones is a good book, entirely different, sure a good book but far from funny.
So what to do? Go to my presonal, private library (aka my mom’s billy bookshelves that takes up an entire 4mt long wall) and start searching for “Mom is it under M for Mc or C for Court?” “Don’t know, look up, it’s a small book anyway”.
Small, to me, is a Pennac’s book, this is 300 pages thick, but my mom drinks books up, she doesn’t read, so yeah, it’s small, ok.
Anyway, Angela’s ashes (and I swear I was going to write The lovely bones… what’s wrong with me???) here’s what I think about it: it’s incredibly fun and hilarious and, even if sometimes you’d like to jump into the book and kick dad Malachy’s ass or shake mom Angela to see if they can get a grip, even if you feel bad for thinking -just five minutes earlier- and complaining about how the garage badly needs a redo yet now you’re facing such misery, you can’t help but laugh, he tells this story with such irony, so lightheartedly, it’s unbelievable. I do see why it’s won the Pulitzer prize! But most of all you can grow fond of characters in just a few pages.
Warning: it will make you crave fried eggs and toasted bread with jam and butter… and fish and chips with a tall glass of Guinness.
PS About what I was writing for The language of flowers, about that need to explain every single thing. Frank McCourt doesn’t explain a thing, doesn’t get lost into embellishing descriptions or else, he tells things straight, you are the one who gets the irony, you are the one who grasps how things are really going, and this is nice.

Un polpo alla gola and Ogni maledetto lunedì (su due) by Zerocalcare – These italian graphic novels are the first books I’ve borrowed from Motta’s public library (and what about a public library that has such graphic novels??? It rocks U_U). I still need to read the first volume of the three but since they all have indipendent stories it’s no biggie. My review will be fast, ’cause I’ve read them fast: people could hear me laughing from the street.

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2 thoughts on “On the nightstand – 8

  1. Mari

    Potresti linkare ad amazon anche altri libri che hai recensito e a cui ho risposto….
    e va beh, ho preso nota anche delle “ceneri di angela”…. ma non so se lo leggo perchè io preferisco saggi, ma se dici che spacca……
    approposito, una volta ho letto un fumetto (visto che dici di aver letto Hellboy) che faceva spanciare dalle risate, non aveva dialoghi ma solo figure, si intitolava GON, era un piccolo dinosauro alla scoperta del mondo…. ma quanto ridere…..!!! ^_^

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