Annie is reading ~

Annie is reading ~

Officially Anastasia, but Annie, Ana, Nes, Nessie for friends. Pick your favorite one or create your own nickname for me, I'm a large container! But I hope you will not call me.. Nasty

My ID card is trying to tell me that currently I'm 18 years old: the possibility of me agreeing with this statement depends on the day. I discovered some years ago that the best way of filling my free time is reading and sharing the marvelous act. So, yay, boredom has been successfully removed from my everyday life. I'm not English, I'm a citizen of that country often remembered for unforgettable delicacies like pizza. So, you will excuse me for possible grammatical oversights, right? 

3 Stars
August reads: The History of Sexuality #1, Michel Foucault
The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction - Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley

Even if the title, "The History of Sexuality", would suggest a regular exploration of the customs, traditions and concepts regarding sexuality during the course of centuries - and it would have been interesting anyway - actually Foucault proposes a different study from the beginning. Given that he has always been interested in the matter of power, he dusts off the duo sexuality-repression.
In fact, excluding the last decades, believing that society armed itself for silencing the sexuality is a common belief. But Foucault doesn't share the same opinion. The theory he tries to explain is that Western society has always encouraged an exploration of our senses, it is definitely opposite to the idea that it wanted to give of itself, that is an impeding role. Ours is a sexual esploration through the confession: for example in the Counter-Reformation the Church demanded that sins were recounted with a detailed precision, then in the last passed century the psycoanalysis, with Freud who suggested even that in order to understand our true nature relying to our sexuality is extremeley and abnormously necessary. Like it happens with many taboos, sexuality has been blown out of proportion from the shadows around it and the power with capillary branches which has pushed for talking about it always more, instead of silencing it as we believe.


The thesis is acute but, although the essay is only of 150 pages, it manages to be very repetitive. It almost seems that Foucault has secured those two basic concepts and often he strings the paragraph out repeating the basic concept. The effect is hammering, surely it's impossible that the key points don't get into one's head at the end. Besides the chapter about the law connected to power seemed to fall into the rambling and redudant, given that the basic idea has already ben expressed in the first paragraphs. I'm not used to read this genre, my philosophical studies in High School were not directly on the author's texts but on textbooks. And my textbook was really good at explaining some concepts that now that I have time to read directly by the same philosophers would have sounded..definitely garbled. I guess it's a matter of getting used to them.
My textbook used to repeat the explained concepts to complete the theory explained, but now doing it so frequently is not necessary..I've not forgotten what you said two pages ago, Foucault!

Alberto Sordi. L'Italia in bianco e nero -  Goffredo Fofi

Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 275 pages.

Italian pills: 


Alberto Sordi is a well-known Italian actor from the "movies era" of the great Italian comedy (1950-70 approximately). When it was still good, not cheap, vulgar and spent like now. He was also in the first works of Federico Fellini (one of my favorite directors), "The White Sheik" and "I Vitelloni".

What a coincidence: the author has quoted a  little television performance which I saw some days ago in a program, Techetecheté. It is a sort of brief recycling themed playlist of the Italian television. Because yes, our main channel is always remembering the Golden Era instead of modernizing itself and inventing something new. 

I have not found a brief extract from the performance but the entire song (Carcerato), which clearly is useless to post here. He makes a lot of Italian references and it's a bit difficult to translate in English because the song is rhymed. But in the performance he hugs at the beginning Mina. Maybe you already know her. Truth to be told, I don't know if she is well-known out of Italy. Here she's an immortal singer. She has an amazing voice, if some of you are interested in foreign music you should definitely search some of her songs on Youtube. I love this one, Città vuota means Empty City.

Here the translation:


The streets are overcrowded, the crowd is around me,

It is talking to me and laughing
And nothing knows about you...
I see passersby around me
But I know, the city will seem to me empty
If you don't come back.

There is that one who wants to be next to me every evening
But I don't care if he gives me his kisses,
I always think about you, only about you
And I know, the city will seem to me empty
If you don't come back.

How do you want to live alone, without me?
Don't you feel that our love is not over yet?

Come back to me, my love,
And the city will not be empty any more.

The streets are overcrowded, the crowd is around me,
It is talking to me and laughing
And nothing knows about you...
I see passersby around me
But I know, the city will seem to me empty
If you don't come back.

How do you want to live alone, without me?
Don't you feel that our love is not over yet?

4 Stars
August reads: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.


Tony Webster, an average exponent of the human race, looks back on all his life in order to understand what was really going on not only with himself, but regarding above all the others. The narration is sometimes lucid, sometimes uncertain, unreliable like every distant memory could be remembered and lightly transmuted, even if only in the details. The first part is the flashback: the times in high school when he met a significant person in his life, Adrian Finn, an incredibly smart boy who defined the history as "that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation" when asked by his professor, when Webster could only give legendary answers heard from others and not entirely believable even for him, just to say something without being dull; the times of college with his girlfriend, Veronica, whose bookshelf is full of Auden, T.S. Eliot, MacNiece, Stevie Smith and others. But there's a difference: Tony knows that Veronica's books are consumed for her readings, while his books are consumed only because he has bought them in a second-hand bookstore, leaving them there in order to read them one day or another. And then, the free months after college and the "mature" age with her wife, Margaret. These two last parenthesys are brief, because Tony's doubts and question are concentrated on Adrian and Veronica, who will come back violently in his life when a letter will pop up in Tony's mailbox. 


The themes of the novel are so eloquent that it is impossible to not stop and think of all the intellectual provocations about life and time. In what measure can we be different from the Average Man, Tony Webster? there was the possibilty to not feel the mature age as a silent deception, if compared to the paths of glory of teenage years, when the future was a promise and larger and greater than the past years? At the end, I believe that most of what happen to us is deserved. Particulary our deceptions, which are the result of our choices. But sometimes this is a tough statement to accept, so memory will forge our past, will neglect those details which will not match with our dramatic romance. And like I said, the more I read the novel, the more it turned into a subte journey throught the forgotten details. And this tale about reconstructing the truth is engrossing, at the end totally unpredictable. Its characters have those opacities of not truly known persons and fill Tony's life with the unpleasant stains of a realistic middle life. Actually it's such a realistic representation that it got under my skin. A tracing paper on the second and third layers of life. I definitely will read more by Julian Barnes. 

The Emoji Book Tag!

I've discovered this tag in Youtube thanks to The Little Book Owl so I've decided to do it. I have to connect the last five used emoji on Whatsapp with a book that matches them.

Let's get started!


1)  ->  


I guess that I could intepret it as the book that makes your heart beats at the memory of it. Tell The Wolves I'm Home is the first novel that comes to my mind.



2)  ->  


Haunted, you're not funny, you're not the deep critic of society and today people you wish to be. You're not even sensible.Your only usefulness could be those two fingers to make someone throw up. Instead of the manual method, I could read a page of it.


3) ->  


LOL, how could I explain it? I use this emoji a lot, when I want to invite a friend to join the joyful dance. A sort of dancing yeah. Looking for a book to connect has been hard, but I've won! The book is not exactly joyful, but sufficiently young and funny to suggest a vital party. 


4)  ->  


I've chosen it because of Kolya. He's awesome and he knows it. And I know it too. The whole book is awesome. I've thought about choosing an author with an enormous love for himself but often they're not all that thing for me. So, what about a honest but cool novel? It's more attractive. 


5)  ->  


I could catch my breath and calm down after the family mission. What a pacing!

(show spoiler)
3 Stars
August reads: Siberian Education, Nicolai Lilin
Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld - Nicolai Lilin

This is the story of the years of Nicolai in Transnistria, when he was inserted in the criminal community of Urea people. Growing up in that context means a lot, particularly when the main character compares himself to external figures. In those moment he truly understands the merit of a "siberian education". 

Let's say that the Urea clan is not a standard criminal organization, but it's a sort of tribe with a significant culture, traditions and even a specific and exclusive language. A society on its own, where there are Siberians, who are generally "honest criminals" (yes, a distorted conception of crime is present here), and the others, with other rules or more often, without any rule or principle. To be clear: the others are not part of the Urea community. A true Siberian man here is a man of honor, principles like I said, who loves and respects his traditions. A true Siberian man is loyal to his friends and family, he admires the old men of the community because of their experience and wiseness in the field, he even respects women (!!) because of their care for children and the family and the house. There are women who even helped some criminal in their pathways. He doesn't tolerate an unjustified violence, it has to be motivated and with a solid reason. Surely there are contradictions: for example homosexuality is considered like a sin but people with handicaps are treated not simply good, but they are seen like creatures of God, almost untouchable. And obviously this old concept of "right war" and "wrong war" is controversial, and doubting of the truth of these criminal laws is felt like a betrayal, an offense.


I've said Nicolai and the author is Nicolai Lilin, but it doesn't imply that all the fact told in this book are autobiographical and then true. Lilin doesn't clarify it and I don't know, maybe it is possible that he liked to think that others could believe in his story like a "non-fictional" narration. It's definitely fictional, and it's very evident in the story. Many elements are true: particulary in the main features of a Siberian character and in the food habits. But the characters are a bit fake, pepier-mache and I believe that it's a negative point related to the not so talented style, even if it has its fluidity. But it is generally plain and sometimes it gives that sensation of pretense. Maybe I was influenced by all the matter involved in the specific case, others have felt the entire book as a hoax, because of the fictional/non-fictional fact. It wouldn't be better even if it were considered as a historical or autobiographic work.

Besides it's not even clear how the criminal business are managed, and the whole novel was a collection of mission of the young Urea or mission assigned to them, to such an extent that it seems that Urea people were always busy only managing the relationships and tensions with the other communities. They have to gain their money from an activity and this is only mentioned. It was strange in a novel who wanted to talk about a criminal group. 

I have to admith that It was more readable than I expected before starting it, but surely not outstanding. And actually all the group of Urea was similar to an unbelievable fairy tale. Or maybe I'm being too skeptical. 

Would You Rather... Book Edition!


After reading the answers of Bookworm Blurbs, Jessica (HDB) and Amanda Says I decided to do it too. :) 





1. Would you rather… only read trilogies or only stand-alones? 

Following trilogies with perseverance causes me some problems, in fact I read almost only stand-alones. So the answer is obvious. 



2. Would you rather… never be allowed to read the last chapter of a book but be able to read as many books as you want OR only be allowed to read one book a year, but be allowed to finish it?

This would be hard to bear, but I'd prefer to read only book a year but entirely. Better the quality than the quantity. Some books don't gain their complete meaning without the ending, and I'd rather be able to fully understand what I'm reading than reading books on books without this "privilege". And that book isolated in a year will be etched in my memory better than a reading in the middle of thousands. 



3. Would you rather… all books become movies or all books become TV shows? 

I love cinema and in some cases the movie was better than the book: Fight ClubThe Notebook (being better than any work by Nicholas Sparks doesn't require an enormous amount of effort and intelligence) orJules and Jim. I don't follow TV shows usually, again it requires the perseverance that I don't have. 


4. Would you rather... write a crappy book that is critically panned but sells millions of copies (and makes you millions of dollars) or write an award-winning book that sells a few thousand and leaves you in relative obscurity? 

LOL, actually I need money but I respect enough myself to not allow me to win easily. Becoming much acclaimed after my death would be painful, but better to leave something very valuable than a book that will be forgotten. 



5. Would you rather… be a professional reviewer or a professional author?  

If I weren't so much lazy I'd go with professional writer, it would make me very happy. But right now being a professional reviewer would be equally interesting. 



6. Would you rather… only read your 20 favorite books over and over or only read new books and never re-read your favorites? 

I don't re-read that much, almost never, so yes, I'd rather always do new literary experiences!



7. Would you rather… have to read 50 Shades of Grey repeatedly for an entire year OR go to every showing of the movie at your local theater for a month?

30 days are better than 365 days, clearly! I'm trying to reduce my penalty. But I will not pay 30 tickets for that movie, I demand that the author of the question does it for me. Ha!



8. Would you rather… read 5 pages a day or 5 books a week?

Oh my god, no, 5 books a week would be a kill for my brain. I'm too sensible to headache to do that, and besides in October I'll start university so tell me exactly when I would be able to have the necessary time to read 5 books without forgetting to study, eheh! 

Okay, but..5 pages..that's hard..LOL, it would fit one book a year!



9. Would you rather...  always have to read out loud—IN A VERY LOUD VOICE THAT EVERYONE AROUND YOU CAN HEAR—or be unable to read and always have someone read to you?

My quiet and introvert nature would prompt me to the first choice, even if I would miss reading on my own in a moving way. I could write a dramatic novel about it.



10. Would you rather… read only female authors or male authors? 

Okay that's not kind towards my own sex but..male authors. No, wait, female authors. 

..No. Okay I don't know: in some cases I prefer a male author telling the story and in others the contrary. In other cases it's really the same. In my last ten favorites books of 2013 7 were written by male authors. And in my list of favorites authors there are more men than women. But I wouldn't be able to read Dapne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Oriana Fallaci, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Strout, Edith Wharton (aaa, noo! my heart screams!)..okay okay, I'd read male authors but when you are not looking at me I'll read a book written by a woman. That's almost dystopian.



11. Would you rather… only read physical books or e-books?

E-books: a matter of physical space. I can hear my mother screaming if I'd say physical books. Too many of them are already eating this house. 



Tag people to do this quiz:


Everyone who would like to do it! 


We muddle along, we let life happen to us, we gradually build up a store of memories. There is the question of accumulation, but not in the sense that Adrian meant, just the simple adding up and adding on of life. And as the poet pointed out, there is a difference between addition and increase.
Had my life increased, or merely added to itself?

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

3 Stars
August reads: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry practices a profession that every reader imagined to do at least once in a lifetime: the bookseller. "The Island Books" is his den, inserted in an humble village, pretty far from the urban areas (is my insignificant village situated better than his? Astonishing!). And, like we could guess from the title, this is the partial story of his personal life after the death of her wife, Nicole. He seems to be doomed to a certain precarious economical situation and to an average and ungraceful loneliness, but that's not the plan thought for him by Gabrielle Zevin, like we could gess only from the simple premise. 

The novel is, above all, a greedy buffet of literary references and quotations. Just an example: every chapter has a tiny introduction, where A. J. comments a short story significant for that tile of his life, given that he thinks that short stories are the perfect literary form. The quoted names are varied: Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl, but also Flannery O'Connor, Aimee Bender, Grace Paley and so on. That's a right demonstration of the freshness and modernity of this novel, which proposes itself as a book about books. It's different from the other novels I read of the same genre: I mean, one reference is about a book released when..a year ago? two years ago? Wow! 

In fact this is the most adorable element of the whole book: it makes you feel so happily nerd. But the characters are also extremely likable, particulary for A. J. He's the right mix between the typical spite of a not so cheerful and social personality and a humor and basic goodness which are the elements of a winning character. 


There is a but, however. Beyond the hodgepodge of literary delicacies, the story itself is very predictable, you can deduce the main turning points upfront. Its predictability is shaded by its amazing pleasantness and verve, but the lacks are still evident.

I would add to the title another adjective, "The Summarized Life of A. J. Fikry", because the author doesn't hesitate to turbocharge the essential progresses of A. J.'s life. Right in the points where the emotive side of the story could have gained something more (the relationship with Maya, Amelia but others too) the cuts are notable, and the narration results as a large-scale account embroidered with specific facts. Better to not talk about the ending, which is not simply predictable, but an embarassing cliché. Not necessary at all.

It's a pity: if Gabrielle Zevin had developped more these elements, the novel would have been a five-stars read. 

4 Stars
August reads: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

I can understand now why it is so praised and even compared to the other Christie's masterpieces, like Murder on the Orient Express or And Then There Were None. In this case the literal meaning of "extra-ordinary" is a precise definition of the story. 

Is it legit to be lightly satisfied because I was able to guess the murderer 20 pages before the end? Okay, only because Poirot started to show his cards...and to be honest I was not sure...I started to consider the possibility..uhm..okay, I've failed.

And my failure is not definitely "extra-ordinary" with Agatha Christie's strokes of genius! She's always an incomparable master in these things, but I'm stating the obvious. I'm waiting for that particular moment when I will say that "I knew it! I knew it! Haa!" while I'm finishing another novel from her bibliography. Better to say I've dreamed a dream

August TBR
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld - Nicolai Lilin The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes The Information - Martin Amis The End of the Affair - Graham Greene Oblomov - Ivan Goncharov The Charterhouse of Parma - Stendhal, Richard Howard, Robert Andrew Parker The Neverending Story - Roswitha Quadflieg, Michael Ende, Ralph Manheim Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference - Cordelia Fine

Here comes the flood of craziness. Well, I've really nothing to do this month so maybe I'll make it. I have already read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (the reviews will come soon!) and I have read also 70 pages of Siberian Education.

And, to tell the truth, some titles are missing from the list:

- Critique of Practical Reason by Kant, (my next philosophical read after finishing Ethics as self-regard by Fernando Savater). 

- an essay about Alberto Sordi by Goffredo Fofi.


At the end of July I was not feeling good about TBRs anymore (even if I have always done them for at least two-three years!), but going to the library implies always a sort of planning in my reads and group reads on Goodreads too (..just let me say another time readsss).

I would like for the next month to not do them anymore, at least not entirely, but who knows! This thing of "plannings-yes-or-no" is very moody. Maybe I will do it only in case of group reads and raids at the library .


4.5 Stars
July-ish reads: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty  Smith

Have you read Angela's Ashes? Well, the aim of this book is pretty similar. An implicitly autobiographical story about Frances Nolan and her family, during her childhood at Brooklyn. 

Brooklyn, Brooklyn. 

In the novel it's not a simple point in the map, a casual location where the author places the characters, but it is extremely alive. Here it figures as the home of the not-so poor but not-so rich, the home of who has the costant fear of not being able to have a decent daily income (or, like we could say today with the monthly salaries, to make it at the end of the month), but in one way or another there's always a solution to make it by their own till the end. Here the art of getting by rules. There's an unbearable number of days where a soup bone is the only offer for lunch and dinner, but there are also those bright and joyful Saturdays where Frances can spend the saved cents for a little sweet. 

On the first side, Frances doesn't want to show to dear strangers her homeland, so dirty and poor, but on the latter side, when she saw Manhattan and the upper-area of New York a deception came, because..Brooklyn is better, Brooklyn is hers. In fact in this place all the sorrows and joys of the first two decades of Frances Nolan grow, burn and then consume theirselves. And this is the telling of those times, the times when we were living in Brooklyn.


And I loved it. A "fat" book but extremely fluid. I've felt completely into the story and their characters, with the little events of everyday life, those unavoidable unfortunate events of a lifetime and on the same line also those accepted with a big smile. It was so genuine and the character were vivid, real. I don't share the critic of others towards the "sentimental" tone and I don't understand why when we deal with poverty all has to be extremely rough and tough. I've appreciated instead how Frances' perspective has influenced all the story. The pains of living in precarious conditions were tangible, a sort of smell in the air through the entire story, so including the adjective of "idealistic" under "sentimental" would be wrong.

And I've loved how it was perceived the deep love of the little Nolan towards the father, even if it wasn't an example of probity. Some moments linked to that were sincerely moving. 

The grow up of the characters was also real, and I'm so glad that Frances (Betty too) became a strong and self-reliant woman, I would be proud if she were close to me. And I can say that I was feeling all the sacrifices that weighed on her shoulders, the smell of dust in the substratum of the skin due to the need of rull up her sleeves and climb down the craggy reality of living to gain something for herself. 

I'm really happy, it was such a heartwarming piece of work. 

Post-reading chats:

ME: I've just finished an Agatha Christie's novel and MUBI sends me an email with this subject: "Another victim..and I'm alive!". PRICELESS.

MY FRIEND: Mubi reads in your mind! 

ME: I have an alibi. I'm not the victim because I'm alive, proof: I'm talking with you. Unless we admit the existence of paranormal activites..or..that somebody else is typing. 

But if somebody else is typing for me and from the same IP, it means that he/she knows that I can't text now because..well, I'm dead, so who is typing is the murderer! 


ME: Lu,'re chatting with a murderer.

MY FRIEND: uuuuh, that's so cool! *_*


PS: only a nerd like me could think about American Psycho when I say "Priceless!". 

4 Stars
July-ish (and Junish!) reads: The Brothers Karamazov, Fedor Dostoevskij
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

I've delayed this review because I was (and I am) strongly convinced that adding my opinion to the list of million of opinions in the world about the book was..unnecessary. Particularly because giving to The Brothers Karamazov 4 stars could be judged as a crime! But, to appease the potentially angry crowd, I don't have anything to say about the outstanding quality of the book, 


The Brothers Karamazov is an explicative title: apart from clarifying that the story is about three brothers (Dimitri, Ivan and Aljosa) and their tormented lives in the year taken in examination, for me it's also a masterful sum-up of the human content of these 800 pages. Even if Aljosa is clearly the leading character and somehow the hero of the story, the book is not called Aleksej Karamazov but it involves all the three brothers. There's a strongly intellectual division: Aleksej is the kind, caring, understanding and above all fatifhul soul; Dimitri is the impulsive, passional one (he's not fully aware of himself like Ivan or Aljosa), Ivan instead is the most intellectual of the tree: skeptical so faithless, a bit nietzscheian (even if without success), more tormented and wavering than Aljosa (not exactly ambiguos) if we consider the moral side, like a living human without a God behind should be if he's not an evil.  Here we are clearly reasoning with chief systems, in fact the three tendencies would be partial and a little "exaggerated" if not related to the other two. If we unite the three tendencies we have somehow the contraddiction and multitudes of a single "standard" human soul. Sometimes faithful, loving; sometimes skeptical, in crysis, uncertain, wavering and full of suspicion; and sometimes impulsive, unreasoning, dedicated to follow our istincts without much thought about it. Clearly everyone tends to be more an Aljosa (admirable, then!) or a Dimitri, or defintely closer to Ivan than Aljosa on the intellectual side. I'm Ivan in my deepest inner world, but I try when I remember it to be more an Aljosa, particulary towards other human beings. I end up being a sort of mix between them, I'm not so masterfully crafted as a human being to be a sort of saint like Aljosa and sometimes I don't even try too hard (my most sincere apologies).  My mother would say that I underestimate my dimitrian part, and she's probably right. Not because she's the mum (not only! c'mon!), but because I have my passions too. So, maybe you don't know it (!), but a dostoesvkijan container is so large that pratically it contains the whole human soul, represented by the three kind of human answers to the question "how do your person respond to the word reason?" (and I would add the condition of intelligence then, because you are not able to be Ivan or Aljosa if you don't even have any ability in the exercise of thought. That's understandable, extremely developped consciences like Dostoevskij somehow need to reflect extremely developped inner worlds in their characters). And now, when I say The Brothers Karamazov, what Dostoevskij tried to face here is reassuringly clear.


Let's not deepen the father issue too, I would finish tomorrow and I have to please myself with some good food in my stomach (and it's painfully rare sometimes, Karamazovs suffers for big issues but sometimes I just want a *good* cake to be temporarily satisfied with my life). 

So how the three reacts to a disgrace of a father is explicative for the conflct between passions and reason, now identified with social laws for example, not anymore with the only intellectual side. Ivan's reaction to a certain fact in the second part is a model of the Freudian side of the novel (even more for DImitri if you think that I'm making a reference to Oedypus, even I was thinking more about the cohabitation of conscious and subconscious), and the entire second part of the novel too. Their impulses towards the father were extremely understandble, but what divides the freedom of feeling and the responsabily of acting?

That trial somehow seemed to invole every conscience in the tension between ourselves and the average morality. 

(show spoiler)

In general, the reactions to all the ugliness in the world (the evil in Smerdjakov, the father, death and so on) are one of the tension deployed during the story. 


Now, sorry for the long post and let's deal with the big why: 4 stars?!

It's only an emotional matter that prompted me to not give the highest rating. Even if I was interested and admired by the represented multitudes (even in the style, sometimes tragically emotive, sometimes humoristic, sometimes deeply philosophical, like all the waves which moves a lifetime), I was not truly fond of the entire novel. I love with all myself White Nights, but in this case my appreciation is mostly reflective and not instinctive, emotional like the unconditional affection between two creatures. We could say that the Ivan in me appreciated this book, but not the dimitrian part. Ouch! 

Why? I can't tell with rigor: maybe because it was explicitely and infinitely more inclined to the intellectual chief systems than White Nights, who involved me as a single person and type. And it could not be a critic, but in some way this affected the more primordial attachment to the story. It would not even be a coherent reason for my person, given that I loved The Myth of Sysiphus for example,  I tend to be fond of the figures with who I share my thoughts about life, and I'm really interested in many philosophical matters. Maybe because I tend to avoid theology and all the intellectual tensions in this book was mainly towards the question of God and faith? No, this exact philosphical matter doesn't engage me like others. 

A lot of questions and no certain anwers. A typical dostoevskijan novel has so many implications that it's difficult to explain rationally the hows and whys of the emotional reactions to them. 

3 Stars
July-ish reads: Birds of America, Lorrie Moore
Birds of America - Lorrie Moore

I know Lorrie Moore only thanks to Goodreads and my wandering into it. Here in Italy she's completely unknown (and then not translated, that's a pity, because a readin in translation would have helped me a little). I know that she's very appreciated, even if a considerable part of Goodreads can't  share the most common phrases about her. 

This is in particular was one of her books with the highest average rating (4.12/5 with 8394 ratings, quite reliable). It focuses on human loneliness, nearly always of the same kind in almost all the short stories. There's a quote I liked very much:


One of the problems with people in Chicago, she remembered, was that they were never lonely at the same time. Their sadness occurred in isolation, lurched and spazzed, sent them spinning fizzly back into empty, padded corners, disconnected and alone. (Willing)


Surely it can't be applied to all the lonely protagonists of the collection, but they would understand this quote in the most sympathetic disposition, and I understand it too. This is the most important fact in my read: I could deeply understand what Lorrie Moore was exposing in a precise way because..well..I could be a character of hers. Actually I would appreciate her silent ironic touch on my unsuited loneliness. In fact all the characters can't really relate to their husband, boyfriend or even friends. There are even some levels represented: the lover, the family and the community. "Community Life" is eloquent in this case and my favorite one. Why this loneliness? These badly arranged couples? Bad choices committed for not being alone. But not necessarily, sometimes just because the future can not be known and in the present the other seems interesting, likable, when time doesn't have ruined the first impression yet. Unfortunately then comes the deception and a routine which traps them in dreary cohabitations. And  the description of the light sense of "existential maladjustment", the sensation of wasting time occupying the wrong spot for your bodies, the isolation, alienation and loneliness..well, I've felt that they were described with a deep sense of truth and comprehension by Lorrie Moore. 

But three stars are not given randomly. Even if I appreciated the subjects and how they were reproduced, sometimes the stories were..not exactly boring but heavy and long to follow, I was not always interested in some characters, and...I fell asleep one time. The feeling of light boredom overwhelmed me after the first short stories, near the end of the collection. I can't fully explain what doesn't work in the telling, maybe just the pacing, a bit uncaring of vitalizing itself. Surely the perspective is inward-looking, so it was more important to know the characters than the plot (even if it clearly exists and developes), but sometimes it was not enough to not make me lose attention, given that the suggested feelings were similar. 

4.5 Stars
July-ish reads: Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions - Banesh Hoffmann, Edwin A. Abbott

Maybe you will all know the substantial plot of this novel, but I'll say it for eventual isolated cases. Flatland is an alternative world in two dimensions, populated by flat geometric figures. The main character tell us of the features of this world and "people": the gerarchic society, some habits in everyday interactions, and so on. Besides there is a second part where the main character, a square, will explore other dimensional realities: Lineland, Spaceland and Pointland. Worlds with other dimensions. 


I can't think of a more fitting adjective than "remarkable". There is an afterword in my Italian edition which contains a such a right observation: between the madness of an imaginary world built from its basis and the coherence and intelligence of its principles there is the most distinctive feature of this brilliant novel. It has the characteristics of the incontrovertible evidence. I've thought about what can be considered more phraiseworthy: a complete fantastic world in which imagination has the total power or an imagined world still lied to rigid and inevitable mathematic laws to respect, so, less similar to "an autogenerated fantastic burst"? Is an unconfined imagination more phraiseworthy than a subtle intelligence in uniting already existing geometric principles to an imaginary world?

Inventing from nothing personal laws for our creation can be the most remarkable and marvelous thing to do, if it succeeds, but the "adversary" mentioned is no less so.

And Abbott does it perfectly. 

Particularly in reinterpreting his actual society in geometric figures, social laws. An outstanding intelligence and inventiveness: I mean, thinking about all the implications in applying the figure of the straight line to women could be sufficient: I appreciated what was said behind the sharp consequences in exposing the beginning or the end of it (an allusion maybe to our feminine nature, gentle, kind and loving but also cruel when we want) besides the social critic, so as I said how they are perceived in the English sexist sociey of that times. In the second part a valuable example could be Pointland and the philosophical implications in thinking "non-dimensionally". So well represented. That could be applied perfectly to how in adding dimension the represententatives of them were more open and ready to accept differences, like a "three-dimensional mind". 


For a moment I've thought that Abbott was sharing the beliefs of his people, but then! I was not fully aware! In fact there was that "unsaid" which lies on the surface, the subtle smile of a silent satire. I loved that thin line between endorsement and critic. 

A really appreciated surprise. I'm a slouch in maths and being able to follow Abbott's explanations and reasonings has been reassuring. I was avoiding this precisely because of the fear of not being able of understanding. Well:


At the end of the day

She said a realized "yay!"

2.5 Stars
July-ish reads: Pan, Knut Hamsun
Pan - Knut Hamsun, Sverre Lyngstad

The novel is a harmonious appreciaton of nature by a man in love with the wrong girl. Well, I've added the last three words, probably you will not find them in a strandard description of the plot. A pure personal opinion.

And I've not even been right and clear: the protagonist has always loved the nature and he's fully delved into it, far from the everyday society. In certain way here the nature is like a third character, similar to the arms of a mother: always there, ready to sustain his loneliness, even enhacing it.

And this is one of the several points that distances him and Eduarda, the love he will discover during the story. Eduarda is a young girl, a woman of the world surely.

She has some faults of her age: she is looking for "the man of her dreams", a total idealized figure for which she suffers and treats badly who is not able to measure up to it, even if not intentionally. And, most of all, she's one of the strongest reason for my dislike towards the book. i have not anything towards disconnected dreamers, but she's pretty annoying, if not dull like every character in the novel. In fact she's also capricious, unstable, a bit snobbish when there are the right circumstances, and..well..a bit stupid too then (I can't remember a single interesting line by her). 

The question is: why all this fuss for her?

But I guess that this is a universal interrogative, given the many wrong couples existing in the world. 

I didn't liked even how in some ways she's cuddled in her faults, like she doesn't have responsabilties towards her actions and immature beliefs. Arrrrrgh, homicide! I hate that!


And like I said, the other characters are not so remarkable. The protagonist is simply uninteresting. He's so uninteresting that there's nothing to add. Surely he reprents the same love for nature, and the many description in the novel are inspiring, but in this case.. the reader is a wrong choice. I've some problem in relating to nature (insects everywhere, aaaah!) and I really don't share the same dedication to it like him, so I'm not the most receptive person about this subject. 

Why then reading this book? I was hoping that a good love story could instill a fascinating pathos in the descriptions, but the prerequisite has totally failed. 

currently reading

Progress: 85/728minutes
Progress: 99/1497pages
The Information - Martin Amis
The Critique of Practical Reason - Immanuel Kant