Translation: Domenico Adriano, transl. by Barbara Carle

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, translated from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Self’s Life in Books

In 2013, she read a total of 30 books.

In 2014, to her great disappointment, she managed to read only 7.

Thus far, in 2016, she’s read 18 books. Oh happy happy joy joy.

2013 was a great year for her reading life.

She read:

  • Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne
  • Anna Karenina
  • Don Quijote
  • Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses
  • Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Litte Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
  • Sister Carrie
  • The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
  • The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • City of Thieves, by David Benioff
  • The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michae Connelly
  • Henry M. Stanley’s How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa

In 2015, self’s great reads were:

  • Silas Marner
  • Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
  • The Act of Love, by Howard Jacobson
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill

This year, self’s favorite books have been:

  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins (which she just realized she’d already read five years ago: She didn’t remember a thing!)
  • Anjelica Huston’s second memoir, Watch Me
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho
  • Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton

She’s struggling through Northanger Abbey. Really struggling. But she is determined to finish it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

July in Books

July is a season all its own. Below, a list of the books self has read in July:

July 2016 (Currently Reading): Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart

  • How a feisty young woman shepherds her younger sisters to a life of independence, in 1914 rural America

July 2015

The Act of Love, by Howard Jacobson

  • How an author self never read before introduced her to the splendid pleasures of The Wallace Collection in London

July 2014

The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry

  • Again, this Irish writer breaks her heart (The first time he did was in A Long, Long Way)

July 2013

The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

  • Sicily, as you’ve never seen it before

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • So meh

The Quiet American, by Graham Greene

  • Greatness

 

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, pp. 256 – 257

I traced lines between moments and events distant from one another, I established convergences and divergences. In that period it became a daily exercise: the better off I had been in Ischia, the worse off Lila had been in the desolation of the neighborhood; the more I had suffered upon leaving the island, the happier she had become.

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Girlhood in Elena Ferrante Time

I could sit on the terrace and read with the sea in front of me, or walk along a steep white road toward a long, wide, dark beach that was called Spiaggia dei Maronti.

In the beginning, after all the fears that my mother had inoculated me with and with all the troubles I had with my body, I spent the time on the terrace, dressed, writing a letter to Lila every day, each one filled with questions, clever remarks, lively descriptions of the island.

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Elena Ferrante, pp. 112 – 113

Self went to the Victoria & Albert this morning.

About the V & A: apart from the gorgeous Chihuly in the lobby, she is not enthused over their special exhibits. Last year, she went to one on shoes, and the shoes were the kind she has seen in Manhattan, in shop windows. So why would she pay extra just to see those very same shoes in a museum?

This morning, she went to a special exhibit on Re-imagining Botticelli. Alas, the exhibit seemed rather gimmick-y. Honestly, why waste time seeing how other people interpret Botticelli when one should so clearly be looking at Botticellis themselves! She did, however, learn that after the Renaissance, Botticelli fell into obscurity and was only “rediscovered” sometime in the late 19th century, by art dealers. Also, his first name was Sandro. It got to the point where self began wondering who this Sandro Botticelli was. And only figured out later that Sandro was Botticelli. Because all these years, self has only ever heard Botticelli referred to as Botticelli. Not as Sandro Botticelli. Naturally, it had to be a British museum that referred to him by first and last name!

Anyhoo, enough of this useless prattle!

She’s back in her room reading My Brilliant Friend.

Because of the stately cadence of Ferrante’s prose, self finds herself, while reading, being lulled into a hazy, dream-like state. She thinks she is reading Remembrance of Things Past, the Italian version. Only to be confronted with the brutality of — society!  Especially, of men! For instance:

SPOILERS! HEY HO, SPOILERS!

Don Achille was murdered.

Another instance: Shortly after she enters adolescence, the narrator finds herself beset by male attention. At one point some boys in a car follow her along a street, and the boys keep inviting her to get in the car with them. Self read this scene in an absolute stupor, she didn’t realize it was dangerous, until she read this:

  • I said no because if my father found out that I had gone in that car, even though he was a good and loving man, even though he loved me very much, he would have beat me to death, while at the same time my little brothers, Peppe and Gianni, young as they were, would feel obliged, now and in the future, to try and kill the Solara brothers.

What? What? What?

From the sedate to the overwrought. There are just no rules, with regards to Ferrante’s writing.

Stay tuned.

 

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, p. 83

So sedate is Elena Ferrante’s pacing that, when something truly horrible happens, on p. 83 of My Brilliant Friend, it is like (to borrow an over-used term) a punch in the gut.

There.

Also, needless to say, SPOILERS.

Don Achille, the terrible Don Achile, was murdered in his house in the early afternoon of a surprisingly rainy August day.

He was in the kitchen, and had just opened the window to let in the rain-freshened air. He had got up from bed to do so, interrupting his nap. He had on worn blue pajamas, and on his feet only socks of a yellowish color, blackened at the heels. As soon as he opened the window a gust of rain struck his face and someone plunged a knife into the right side of his neck, halfway between the jaw and the clavicle.

A few days ago, self was telling a friend that she didn’t think My Brilliant Friend was as good as some of Elena Ferrante’s earlier work.

But this event is so masterfully delivered. Kudos, Elena Ferrante. Just — kudos all over the place.

Stay tuned.

Triumph!

Triumph!  Self can finally remove one piece from her humongous, ever-growing, overflowing Pile of Stuff:  The New York Review of Books Mar. 6, 2014 issue.

She read it cover to cover, backwards and forwards.  The only thing she skipped reading were the Letters to the Editor and the Classifieds.

And self was even able to compile a list of the books she is interested in reading (which she will probably get to six or seven years from now:  since the start of the year, her reading rate has sunk to the truly abysmal.  She’s still on the same Jhumpa Lahiri short story she began about 10 days ago)

Without further ado, here are the books self is adding to her reading list:

  • Gabriele d’Annunzio:  Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (The review, by David Gilmour, makes passing mention of Alberto Moravia’s L’amore coniugale :  Conjugal Love, which self now wants to read)
  • Lina and Serge:  The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev, by Simon Morrison (The review, by Orlando Figes, makes passing mention of two other books self is now interested in reading:  The Gambler, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Fiery Angel, by Valery Bryusov)
  • The Missionary’s Curse and Other Tales from a Chinese Village, by Henrietta Harrison (The review, by Ian Johnson, makes passing mention of Jesus in Beijing, by former Time journalist David Aiken. BTW, what a fabulous title)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Habit 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Things self does every day:

1. Read (This is a cover detail of one of the best books she read this year:  The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. It’s about the decline of the Italian nobility, with a focus on the island of Sicily.)

More of That Cover for THE LEOPARD, self's favorite read (so far) of 2013

More of That Cover for THE LEOPARD, self’s favorite read (so far) of 2013

2.  Watch birds.

She regularly spends time in her backyard, where she has two bird feeders.

She regularly spends time in her backyard, where she has two bird feeders.

3.  Water geraniums.  Self loves them because they are so easy to grow.  She almost never has one die on her.

On the Backyard Deck

On the Backyard Deck

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Summer in Books

Here are the books self read this summer (She starts her summer in June and considers it over by 1st of September):

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard:  Self tried manfully, but she just couldn’t bring herself to finish.

Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser:  She has encountered more than a few people who say they have never heard of Theodore Dreiser.  She loved this novel.

The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa:  People had heard of the movie; they didn’t know it was based on an actual novel.  Self thought this novel was beautiful.  Note for note, the most ravishing book she’s read so far this year.

The Great Gatsby:  Bad.  A major disappointment, one of the worst ever.

The Quiet American, by Graham Greene:  Felt like it could have been written today, substituting Afghanistan for 1950s Vietnam.  It was all the things Gatsby wasn’t:  tightly written, surprising, harsh, and tremendously sad.

Wolf Hall, by Hillary Mantel:  A miracle.  Made her hate Thomas More, a historical figure she once revered (because of Paul Scofield’s performance in “A Man For All Seasons”).

The book self just started is Love and Summer, by William Trevor.  She was so glad she began reading it while it is still summer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

« Older entries

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

fashionnotfear.wordpress.com/

Fear holds you back, fashion takes you places!

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

"Stories makes us more alive, more human. . . . "---Madeleine L'Engle

Rants Of A Gypsy

Amuse Thyself Reader!

FashionPoetry By Val

Fashion. Poetry. Music. Travel. Food. Growth.

Kanlaon

Just another Wordpress.com weblog

Jean Lee's World

Finder of Fantasy & Adventure in Her Own Backyard