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? 

What June could bring
When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman The First Man in Rome - Colleen McCullough The Brothers Karamazov - 'Fyodor Dostoyevsky' Pan - Knut Hamsun, Sverre Lyngstad The Sleeping Voice - Dulce Chacón Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - Mario Vargas Llosa Embers - Sándor Márai, Carol Brown Janeway

I say "What June could bring" because the last month I tried to say with a certain confidence "What May will bring" but some of the promised books have been cut off from the tyrannic 31 days of only 24 hours. In fact The Sleeping Voice by Dulce Chacòn, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Vargas Llosa and Embers by Sandor Màrai are the evacuees who are looking for a place in June. 

 

In the meantime I'll read the monthly book of my online book club, Pan by Knut Hamsun, who inspires me a lot. I'm eager to read one of his most acclaimed works and maybe discover a remarkable author :) 

And I want to be ambitious, inserting too in this monthly session The Brothers Karamazov. Let's say that I dreamed a dream in which I manage to read even this book in June. All About Books from Goodreads will read it in this month and the temptation of joining them is very high, given that I wanted to read something else by Dostoevskij for months after The Gambler, White Nights, The House of the Dead and two short stories. Maybe a huge classic of his bibliography like this. And doing it with other bookish fellows then would be more encouraging.

But June is also the start of a new themed session and I'd like to remain in Ancient Rome after the listening in progress of I Am Livia. So I've thought about the famous saga of Collen McCullough, whose first book is The First Man in Rome. I'm impatient to read it too. Usually I don't get excited by historical books set in those times but now for unexplicable reason I'm really inspired to this kind of genre and I want to read this and that and that other and well, I have to keep calm, like my (original!!!) t-shirt says.

Don't ask me the reason of the consumerist excitation in the bracket. 

..many intense literary wishes for a month not so free. But my (current) heroic mood says...challenge accepted! 

Reblogged Image
image

Last night: 3.00 am.

Me: (reading)  
My mum: (arrives, eyes full of sleep and now blinded by the lights of my lamp, sluring) what are you doing?! what does it mean? <- an original question for the situation. 
Me: (I raise my eyes busted, a pause, then with nonchalance) go back to bed, mum, it's late. 

Reblogged from SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews
Reading progress update: I've listened 154 out of 790 minutes.
I Am Livia - Phyllis T. Smith

An enjoyable reading so far, only a note or.. better, a doubt: it's strange how Tiberius Nero and Livia's father are reacting during the times of Octavianus's blacklist. This period was immediately preceding the new "imperial" era and the high corruption in the Republic was one of the pretexts of Octavianus to propose a new policy.

Livia suggests to Tiberius the possibility of turning in his favour the relationship with a friend of Marcus Antonius (who wrote the blacklist with Octavianus). Even if he's loyal to the opposite part and this would be a betrayal, this is clearly the most rapid solution to avoid death. Tiberius...

- seems to fall from the sky. I hope that his reaction meant more that he was dismayed because Livia - a woman - suggested it to him, and not because of the suggestion itself. It would be naive for a person involved in politics. The corruption was tangible, even Cicero (who phraised so much the traditional roman moral) was involved in corruption, imagine a person who took part at the conspiracy against Caesar. A questionable reaction.

- paradoxally shows that he couldn't do it because of his dignity. This is interesting, I don't want to make a critic because I don't know much about Tiberius Nero, but is this sens of heroism apt to the historical context? I mean, he's not a stoic and exceptional figure like Cato. Romans were very involved in this kind of political ethic, but if even them arrived to need a "restorative" figure like Octavianus, it means that all this sense of dignity was not so present in the senate and in the members of the Republic of those times.

 

I studied this specific period the last year so I have to retrieve some informations to be sure at 100 % of what I'm saying. But this is maybe the only point that casts doubts about the historical side so far, the rest seemed in line without discreprancies. :) 

Quote
The Rivers
(Cotici, 16 august 1916)

I hold on this mutilated tree
left in this sinkhole
which has the melancholy
of a circus
before the show or after
and watch
the quiet passage
of clouds over the moon

This morning I stretched
myself in an urn of water
and like a relic
rested

The flowing Isonzo*
scoured me
like one of its stones

I pulled my four
limbs together
and went
like an acrobat
over the water

Crouched
by my clothes
fouled with war
I bent
like a bedouin
to receive the sun.

This is the Isonzo
and it is here
I most see myself
as a compliant thread
in the universe

My pain
is when
I do not believe
myself in harmony

But those hidden
hands
give
as they knead me
a rare
joy

I have relived
the stages
of my life

These are
my rivers

This is the Serchio*
from which have drawn
perhaps for two thousand years
my country people
and my father
and my mother

This is the Nile*
that has seen me
be born and grow
and burn in unawareness
over the wide plains

This is the Seine*
and in that muddiness
I mingled
and I knew myself

These are my rivers
melted with the Isonzo.

This is my nostalgia
that in each one
shines through me
now that it is night
and my life seems
a blossoming
of darkness

- "The Rivers", a poem that Giuseppe Ungaretti wrote during his experience in the First World War (translated from Italian, here the original version and some notes in english, "I fiumi"). 

I just studied it for the Italian literature test of tomorrow and..ahh, I like it so much! 

Review
3.5 Stars
Mayish reads: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - Leslye Walton

An exaggerated hype for a nice book.
It has a certain grace for the setting and the style, it was like a pretty painting even in painful subjects. The touch has something of the fairy-tale (well, a girl born with wings..it's somehow fairy-tale!), feature which I like and don't like at the same time. And the last part was very captivating, I couldn't stop reading because the climax was very good.
But I don't approve this obstinate point of view towards love and scars: everyone gets hurt but bear a grudge for the eternity (or at least for a so long time) it's stupid, totally unrealistic, pretentious in this story. A checkmate and hope is lost forever: yes, the impression is this for the first months, but pain, even when it deals this kind of relationship, ends. It's natural. Keeping it next to us for ages and ages is a clear refuse of growing up, not an acquired and untouchable wiseness like the romantic side of the book wants to show.
I understand the characters but I don't like how this attitude seems even approved and stroked by the author, I don't find it fascinating like others do. I find it stupid, particularly when an other person is flailing to be loved back and you are rigid in a fatalist and eternal weeping, wasting precious chances to change direction and offer to your life other possibilities, given that all the characters involved in this thing had a lot of time to do it and they are not so young. 

Review
3 Stars
Mayish reads: Too Loud A Solitude, Bohumil Hrabal
Too Loud a Solitude - Bohumil Hrabal

It reminds me of a more acculturate and aware Fahrenheit 451, while Montag had to discover his mission and the importance of book and culture, the opening of Hanta's story is:

For thirty-five years now I've been in wastepaper, and it's my love story.

Hanta is long-winded like the other protagonist of the book I've read by Hrabal, I served the King of England (which I liked more), his words flow in a very similar way of a stream of consciousness. In fact the tone and the uninterrupted flowing remind me of a painful, oscillating, even rocking memory, dedication to his life with books, with the mices that were invading him, with her gypsy so similar to the vacant mices and so on.

But if Fahrenheit has moved me, Too Loud a Solitude leaves me without particular impressions, and I'm already sure that I will forget the details soon. It's again the same story: everyone loves it and phrases it but me, and I want really to be part of the hype but I'm cut off. Given its features, I could say that it's all a matter of personal reception: surely it is evocative, Hrabal himself has defined the story as a ballad in prose, and poetry involves the most subjective appreciation of the literary genres. 

(In fact I tend to avoid poetry in this last period because..well, my relationship with it is very hard.)

 

Review
4 Stars
Mayish reads: Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary - Michèle Roberts, Geoffrey Wall, Gustave Flaubert

I've re-read this book for doing a comparison with The White Sheik by Fellini in my school essay, so after studying it at school and analyzing it for what was necessary in the comparison it occured that surely the read has not been as intense as before. I had a memory of me reading it at 13 with a more involved disposition, ignoring the developing of the plot and not being aware of the entire psychology and issues of Madame Bovary. There was even something comic in this last read, maybe because not only Charles, but Emma too is a poor soul, and in addition incapable of living without something which is not a childish expectation towards life and people. 

I don't hate her like many others: yes, she worries only about herself, she's selfish, vain, and so on, but..something stops me from hating her, maybe because at the end of the fair she obtains nothing. I'm very sorry for Berthe anyway: what a miserable fate.

I've had the chance to appreciate more Flaubert's style: a master! I'm eager to read Sentimental Education

Review
2.5 Stars
Mayish reads: The Short Stories, Ernest Hemingway
The Short Stories - Ernest Hemingway

Now I know that my misgiving was a correct prediction of this unhappy read. For all these years I escaped from reading him because he's one of my mother's favorite authors and I was scared and I had this premonition about the possible result of a meeting between Hemingway and me. How much I wanted to change idea, how many hopes invested on it! And nothing. 

I strongly disliked this collection of stories, and Hemingway and his style lie down on this distressing adversity. 

You could think that it's because of his themes: hunting, for example. Not particularly: I was actually bored by it and surely it's not one my favorite subjects at all, but it's not the main cause of these two stars.

My mother is an animalist and pacifist and probably I inherited it in an underlayer of my psyche (and Hemingway surely is a bit repetitive in his choices), but on the surface what disturbed me mostly is his style.

His dialogues...aaaah! Hateful! I hated his mania of repeating and repeating the object of an exchange of lines. Like:

"Do you want a beer?"

"No, I don't want a beer"

or

"When did you get in this town?"

"I got in this town last night".

And so on: damn it, why? It seems an elementary textbook. I can't believe that every single characters of these forty-nine short stories is highlighting a sort of irony behind it. It's unbelievable, unconvincing.

And the famous 7/8 underwater: really, I've tried to re-read some of them with this point of view but what did I gain from it? The same bored, cold and uninterested consequences. His stories don't say anything to me, I read them and forget them quickly. I had to skip some of Nick Adam's stories because I was really falling asleep. I can do nothing about it. 

But I want to leave the door ajar: my mother doesn't like his short stories too and she recommended me other works like The Sun Also Rises, maybe I'll give him (no, I'll give us) a chance again in an uncertain and remote future. 

Review
3 Stars
Mayish reads: A Week at the Airport, Alain De Botton
A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary - Alain de Botton

This is not what we could call a "genuine" choice in the subject, but the literary result of a convenient offer from the director of BAA, a company which manages Heathrow's Airport (the so-called Terminal 5). He in fact has proposed to Alain De Botton a one week stay in the airport to allow to his Terminal a sort of literary lustre. Officialy, the director has said that "the world has many aspects that maybe only a writer could describe with the right words". So the candidate is Alain De Botton, and he accepts the offer with enthusiasm. Actually a potential sociological experiment like this would excite me too, especially if paid in advance.
Botton, as typical of his production if I well understood, takes his philosophical inclination and competences to sink them into the everyday life, showing us in this case what an airport could reveal about not only itself, but also about the stories, emotions and moods of his passengers.
Walking through the path of an hypotetical passenger, he divides his book in four moments: departures, check in, beyond the check in and then arrivals. He explores the characteristic of the territories like an enthusiastic Dora the explorer, getting excited for the room service and phraising the writer of his menu like he were a refined poet capable of competing with Matsuo Basho, the "king" of haiku, or phraising too the very pragmatic architecture of the Airport which reveals a sort of "prudish umilty", given the efforts it has secretly to do to support the structure (...what a patron can inspire to his artist..!) or saying passionately, during his dinner in a restaurant of the business class, that whatever has done the humanity come to that point, it was absolutely worth it (oh God, Patrick Bateman's spirit has definitely taken him!).
I'm uncertain between judging it as a sincerely positive attitude and as a light but evident flattery. Without being too distrustful, I can say in his defence that he surely demonstrates a general will of searching mainly the positive angles of Terminal 5, if related to an emotional and philosophical reinterpretation. Like we could do with a dear friend. You will not find a single critic towards Terminal 5. Even the clear distress of the workers are told with a sympathetic and comprehensive disposition, and the same with the clients and their moods, like an ancient roman writer in the Urbe (for example Orazio and his tiny portraits of roman citizens in everyday life with all their humanity),.
But talking about the emotional side of this curious "journey" through the airport, Botton has done a nice job: I appreciated particularly the little portrait of two lovers who were separating in the departures with much pain, and people who received a heartly welcome at the arrivals. This photo was very tender (because yes, the book is rich of photos like a reporting):

 

 

Also the rielaboration of the idea of a journey as the illusion of finding happines elsewhere but here, the moment when hopes are high and the delicious unknown makes us full of life and expectations was right and nice, but not surely brilliant and marking.
In fact I don't know how much I will remember of this light and brief book a month from now, but even if it was pleasant to read, it is clearly destined to be forgotten soon in my mind. Sorry, Alain.
I've read that some critics doesn't like him "because he tends to state the obvious and he's a bit pompous and lacking focus". I agree partly, he doesn't say anything new, but sometimes also little thoughts about our everyday life can pop up like things we were forgetting, immersed in this or that mood to be always focused on the "obvious statements about life". For example, I liked how he quoted Seneca remembering how sometimes anger comes from a constant and incurable hope. Following his point of view, we get too angry sometimes because "we are too optimistic and not prepared to the endemic frustrations of existence". You can't shout every time that you lose your keys.
(...so..you don't have to hope that the next time you will not have to look for your keys again..it's a convenient move, let's be realistic about our limits)

What May will bring
A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary - Alain de Botton Smilla's Sense of Snow - Peter Høeg, Tiina Nunnally Embers - Sándor Márai, Carol Brown Janeway Too Loud a Solitude - Bohumil Hrabal Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - Mario Vargas Llosa Madame Bovary - Michèle Roberts, Geoffrey Wall, Gustave Flaubert The Moon and the Bonfire - Cesare Pavese, Louise Sinclair The Sleeping Voice - Dulce Chacón La sorella. Vita di Paolina Leopardi - ElettraTesti

Okay, I'm not sure that every book of this group will be read in May, but I'll try to do my best. 

I'm very happy to come back to three authors I loved in the past: Mario Vargas Llosa, Cesare Pavese and Bohumil Hrabal. Especially for Vargas Llosa: I've preserved a great memory of The Bad Girl and I wanted to read other books by him for months. 

Madame Bovary is a reread for my school essay and one of the first classics "for adults" that I've read in my life. At least five years have passed since that reading.. I'm curios to know how I will find the book now. :-D 

The last book in the list is a biography of Paolina Leopardi, Giacomo Leopardi's sister, who is one of the most important poets here in Italy. :) 

Review
4 Stars
Aprilian Reviews: #3 - Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

The first time that I dealt with Chris McCandless was the last summer, watching the Sean Penn's movie. Surely I could not know that one year later I would talk with an opposite disposition towards his controversial personality.

In fact in the first time I reacted with many of the critic thoughts of who is not a fan of the epic mission of this adventurous guy: he is totally immature, uselessly radical, pretentiously naive and arrogant.

And I think it now too, but without the harshness of before. Krakauer has given me a more in-depth analysis of the boy and his journey (really well-executed) and I've used the occasion to deepen my reception of him. 

I feel very sorry for his death, but knowing that he died satisfied of his life and experience despite the bitter lesson given by the same beloved nature set my mind at rest. Sometimes I tend to be very hypercritical, but something stops me when I know that this or that person died happy of what he lived and done. What I could say in this case? I'm convinced that everybody is trying to realize himself in this brief life and if McCandless succeeded, I won't say to him a word. 

Because living is hard and I can't blame someone who has tried for real to follow those beautiful ambitions that every young person has inside him. 

It's like those men who want to become an astronaut or the new Indiana Jones and then end up in a office. Good for them if they will talk to me of reality, making ends meet and so on, and they are right. Life technically allows a large part of the dreams of everyone, but the necessary steps to achieve them can be very hard and we should consider that at least a 50 % is not even ready to make an effort, perservere for his personal "something more than a ordinary life". Life is intimidating, big decisions are intimidating. So the dreamer part of everybody usually will be relegated in the angles of a free evening destined to reveries, while "real life" has already defined us. 

McCandless was a young boy with fresh ideals and ambitions and he was sufficiently determined to not be in that 50 %. Surely a journey through "the wild" was not demanding so many sacrifices like the ones he did, but he was not looking simply for the wild, he was trying to live a much more idealistic relationship with nature, he wanted to feel maybe those romantics experiences of his literary models: Thoreau, Tolstoj's characters, and so on. So, yes, he has not accepted nothing that could ease his epic mission, not even a device with which he could have called for help in case of a really alarming situation. Naive, immature, but also typically young. 

He was the classic "young boy" against the corrupted society: he aspired to a radical living style in which society was cut off and he and her beloved nature were a only thing, he was seeing only the black and the white of a person with excessive criticism, an effective example, he truly believed that he should always say the truth, without compromises. He trully believed that he could live without compromises.

Totally irrational, but..bold. He intended to do his epic mission and he really did it right to the end, he has been..tremendously coherent with himself, at cost of not hearing the good sense of others that were trying to redimensioning his project and saving his life. 

And in fact he died wretchedly of hunger in his beloved and wild Alaska, but...as I said..he died with an untouchable happiness.

At least he has tried really to follow the child in us who dream big things for our promising life, he has paid with his life when it wasn't absolutely necessary, but now that all is done we can't turn back, knowing that regret didn't bury him is a big consolation. 

 

Review
4 Stars
Aprilian Reviews: #2 - The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende

I was reluctant to read this. It's one of those books for which you catch yourself always saying "yes, I'll read it, but not now", because of all the hype about it and first of all all the hype about Isabel Allende. It happens a lot with me: when a book is praised by everyone, I feel always an hostile force between the book and me, maybe because I'm afraid of not liking it, feeling incompetent, given that not sometimes, but often my opinion about a praised book ends up being against the tide. In these moments I don't feel proud to be anticonformist, on the contrary I feel often uncomfortable. 

 

The House of the Spirits was a recommendation by a GR user, who has prompted me to overcome my hesitation. 

And.. all's well that ends well this time!

I liked very much the story: compelling, similar to a chock-full flower bowl, its events are like those fireworks which seem destined to gush eternally and with the same energy as the first instant and your eyes are hooked into the movement, pending. 

There never was a moment of boredom and almost all the characters were likable, even those characters like Esteban Trueba whose list of virtues and vices is not very equal and not pending on the positive side. Allende in fact has chosen him for being one of the main voices and not casually, allowing him to explain himself particulary in those behaviors which paint him like a violent jerk. I always like sympathetic tones in novels and in this case it has made me hope for the best for many of the characters. I've really felt inside the story, and Allende's brief and apparently casual anticipations really helped to tickle the long of knowing more and turning pages and pages and pages.. 

The metaphor of fireworks doesn't allude to the idea of wonderful events on wonderful events waiting for Trueba family, there is a lot of suffering, blood too. But the element of magic realism (so well inserted and managed!) with spirits always as vital as human being, a tangible part of the house and living there almost naturally, was really the magic touch of Allende's recipe. This is a well-executed example of magical realism. 

Quote
He died, as the Spanish phrase has it, full of illusions. He had not had time in his life to lose any of them, nor even, at the end, to complete an act of contrition. He had not even had time to be disappointed in the Garbo picture which disappointed all Madrid for a week.

- "The Capital of the World", Ernest Hemingway

It's time to start a new book: #2 - The First Forty-Nine Stories, Ernest Hemingway
The Short Stories - Ernest Hemingway

"The first four stories are the last ones I have written. The others follow in the order in which they were originally published.

The first one I wrote was “Up in Michigan,” written in Paris in 1921. The last was “Old Man at the Bridge,” cabled from Barcelona in April of 1938.

Beside The Fifth Column, I wrote “The Killers,” “Today Is Friday,” “Ten Indians,” part of The Sun Also Rises and the first third of To Have and Have Not in Madrid. It was always a good place for working. So was Paris, and so were Key West, Florida, in the cool months; the ranch, near Cooke City, Montana; Kansas City; Chicago; Toronto, and Havana, Cuba.

Some other places were not so good but maybe we were not so good when we were in them.

There are many kinds of stories in this book. I hope that you will find some that you like. Reading them over, the ones I liked the best, outside of those that have achieved some notoriety so that school teachers include them in story collections that their pupils have to buy in story courses, and you are always faintly embarrassed to read them and wonder whether you really wrote them or did you maybe hear them somewhere, are “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “In Another Country,” “Hills Like White Elephants,” “A Way You’ll Never Be,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” and a story called “The Light of the World” which nobody else ever liked. There are some others too. Because if you did not like them you would not publish them.

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.

Now it is necessary to get to the grindstone again. I would like to live long enough to write three more novels and twenty-five more stories. I know some pretty good ones.

 

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

1938"

 

The first Hemingway for me! And yes, a weird choice to start..

Thematic paths: musicians (December 2013 - February 2014)
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan Mozart's Sister - Rita Charbonnier The Awakening - Kate Chopin The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson Amsterdam - Ian McEwan Lettere alla cugina - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell The Loser - Thomas Bernhard, Jack Dawson Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

I started months ago a sort of personal challenge with 3-months thematich pats. The first has been the one on musicians: reading books about musicians or in which at least one of the character plays an instrument or sing, in other words, fiction and non-fiction related in some way to people doing music.  

The first candidate has been A visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan.  Bennie Salazar, one of the many characters of the book, is inserted in music industry, although he's not enjoying it so much when we meet him, showing a very nostalgic attitude towards the past musical tendecies in his youth, when, in addition, he had a band too. Relating to this book was like going in a seesaw: my emotional disposition has changed among light indifference, sudden love, diplomatic or, sometimes, hearty and trustful friendship and surprisingly light indifference again. This has to do with the structure: changing setting, time and character too in every story of the mosaic. My disorganic appreciation depends very much on it: some "short stories" were really great (like "Safari", or "Goodbye, My Love", "Great Rock and Roll Pauses"), others have not fascinated me ("Pure Language" for example). 

I liked very much how Egan has proposed the idea of time in her character's lives, particulary in how we change during our time and how often this changes imply decisions that the old-self would have denigrated, those tiny compromises sowed in our life which carry us to our actual person and situation. 

I'm eager to read other books by her, she surely has talent. 

Then I've read two books about Mozart's life: Mozart's Sister by Rita Charbonnier and a collection of Letters to her cousin. He's surely a character, I mean..

"Wouldn't you like to visit Herr Gold-smith again?—but what for?—what?—nothing!—just to inquire, I guess, about the Spuni Cuni fait, nothing else, nothing else?—well, well, all right. Long live all those who, who—who—who—how does it go on?—I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we'll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! what on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what's this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?—No, it's true—what a long and melancholic sound!—today is the write I fifth this letter. Yesterday I talked with the stern Frau Churfustin, and tomorrow, on the 6th, I will give a performance in her chambers, as the Furstin-Chur said to me herself. Now for something real sensuble!"  (One of the Letters)

 A prankster! Who would suspect it, if not informed.. Even Charbonnier's novel about her sister paints him like a sort of divinally gifted libertine, who messes up several lives without care. Her sister's life, for example, because she's not a fictional character at all, she really existed. Nannerl Mozart had musical ambitions during yer youth, but fatally she had the misfortune of being obscured by a celebrated genius and a father totally engaged in building his fame. So, this is the story of a slow and progressive surrender to a dream, with much pain, silent endurance and jealousy stirred with brotherly love. 

The book is good, except for some rushed executions in the psychological developments of the second part. 

Then I've read The Awakening by Kate Chopin, in which a secondary character is a pianist. It's a fascinating book, particulary for the main character, Edna. She has an evocative, sinous beauty, but what she do for being so fascinating is the same amount of actions which can't be shared at all for me. She's extremely free and indipendent from any tie, cruel exactly for this reason. She fascinates and distances at the same time: I would never accept a person like Edna in my life. So I understand her, but I don't approve her actions. It's a great book anyway, maybe it's great precisely for all these reasons together. 

In my mission (opening myself to YA) I've inserted The Sky is Everywhere too. Lennie is a misfortuned teenager who discover herselves through love and music (he plays clarinet) in a new intimate birth after the grief for her older sister, Baley. It was not bad at all, moving, particulary for Lennie's grief, although Lennie's life seems to rotate only on her sentimental interests, even with male characters who seem to burst out from those hughe cakes like the one of Singin in the Rain, given the idyllic profiles. 

Then I came back to a loved author, Ian McEwan, with Amsterdam. Less than the the other two I read by him, Sweet Tooth and Atonement. At the centre of the story there is a sort of face-off between Vernon, a journalist; and Clive, a narcisissist composer, through the death of Molly Lane, who has been close to them, and a scoop about Julian, a famous politician. More cinic, ironically colder, less focused on feelings than Atonement for example, but also duller, less powerful than the other two generally, who were truly loose cannons in this sense. Not bad, I'd say, but it has not gained from me the same enthusiastic partecipation, only a tepid appreciation. 

In comparison with Cloud Atlas, Amsterdam is a remarkable experience

I didn't even finished it, I've tried hard, but really: at 150 pages to the end I said no, I've had enough. I understood that I was wasting my time. Extremely boring at the first story, then a little better but unsustainable in the long term. Totally uninteresting for me and I don't find the structure so brilliant, the technique of cross references was badly used. 

I've read it because of this pianist in one of the stories, Luise, but he wasn't really worth the dramatic endurance. 

A dramatic but worthwile book is The Loser. Simply dramatic? Depressing, oppressive, gloomy. And I believe that! What atmosphere do you expect from a depressed loser? In fact the book shows again a confrontation among three musicians, but Glenn Gould - the classic genius - is destined to win without effort. The effort, if need be, is the one of the other two: the main voice will leave music world to undertake a career as a poor intellectual (philosopher) and Wertheimer, the real protagonist, is the looser. Gould will instill in him a feeling of inferiority which will degenerate in a destructive obsession for the rest of his life. It's disturbing for the whole range of the typical feelings and behaviors of a loser: shameful, inglorious I'd say but pitful. Full of self-compassion and clumsiness. One of the most undesiderable state of mind for a man, I think. 

Bernhard really knows how to describe this kind of man, but really, he's really burdensome to follow. I'll probably read other books by him.

And the last but not least: Bel Canto. An enjoyable read! I didn't expect a fully accurate historical book, like others did, but only a possibly good book of fiction. In fact if we pause on this aspect, critics would prosper. It's fictionalized, essentialy optimistic, surprisingly against the tide of a dystopian degeneration (in situations like these). So optimistic in this sense as becoming utopian (a cohabitation among fifty individuals can't be so tender). But it's clear that the entire book is an ode to love (and the ennobling power of music through one of the main characters, who is a opera singer), and I've appreciated its way of doing it. 

I perceived it as an emotional story.

The ending was totally improper though. 

 

Taking stock, the most appreciated are the last two and also Chopin's book and parts of Egan's one. The subject of musicians seems to trace a common idea of music as intimate discovery of oneself, in which a dejected heart (and soul) can revive, not simply console itself. A beautiful concept.

But music world, for example, can be seen also as an umerciful battlefield full of harsh competitions, like in Amsterdam, Mozart's Sister and The Looser. Often the main characters seems destined to succumb or otherwise loose an ethical code in the way.

But I'd say that this belongs to many sectors, not only creative but also financial, economic, and so on. So it's not particulary surprising. :P

It has been absolutely interesting! I'd like to see Amadeus by Milos Forman and I have to the VHS here at home, so I'll do it sooner or later, given that I love cinema. :)

What will come next in this section of thematic paths? ....Who knows..;)

Reading Montaigne: Chapter XIV (That the relish for Good and Evil depends in a great misure upon the opinion we have on them)
The Complete Essays - Michel de Montaigne, M.A. Screech

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer." This is not a quote from Montaigne's Essays, but the opening of "The Myth of Sysiphus" by my favorite philosopher, Albert Camus. Even if I appreciate immensely Kant's revolutionary theory about mind - for example -, I will always be more grateful to those drawers of philosophy which offer a way for living and surviving too. Montaigne didn't talk specifically of the most acceptable reason to keep living (like existentialists indeed), but I love him for all those little suggestions for dealing with life without getting..crazy. I could say that he suggests a way of surviving day by day, againsts all those big and little enemies who put our resistance to the test.

Like he says, pain surely is one of them, how many people kill theirselves because of the unbearable pain?  

 

Besides, this ought to be our comfort, that naturally, if the pain be violent, 'tis but short; and if long, nothing violent:

                        "Si gravis, brevis;
                         Si longus, levis."

Thou wilt not feel it long if thou feelest it too much; it will either put an end to itself or to thee; it comes to the same thing; if thou canst not support it, it will export thee.

 

A friend of mine said one day a thing that I have not forgotten yet: "you know, I think that we won't feel nothing that we couldn't bear." Like an Elisa's song: "Forgive and you'll forget / though it may make you feel bad in fund, you know that you'll still here
and give everything, and give as much as time in which you'll scar will remain / The sun dissolves this node as it does it with snow". And like Montaigne himself said, violent pains are destined to decrease. Then surely comes the mind, and how we are good at torturing ourselves generating almost with pleasure killer-thoughts for our soul. When we have nothing in the hands but pain, we grow fond of it, we don't want to let it go because otherwise it would be like we wouldn't have nothing to mess around with. A pain that finishes is a pain less dramatic, unbearable than we've thought, it's like demystifying ourselves and this is not surely pleasant for our ego. 

'Tis plain enough to be seen that 'tis the sharpness of our mind that gives the edge to our pains and pleasures: beasts that have no such thing, leave to their bodies their own free and natural sentiments, and consequently in every kind very near the same, as appears by the resembling application of their motions. If we would not disturb in our members the jurisdiction that appertains to them in this, 'tis to be believed it would be the better for us, and that nature has given them a just and moderate temper both to pleasure and pain; neither can it fail of being just, being equal and common. But seeing we have enfranchised ourselves from her rules to give ourselves up to the rambling liberty of our own fancies, let us at least help to incline them to the most agreeable side. Plato fears our too vehemently engaging ourselves with pain and pleasure, forasmuch as these too much knit and ally the soul to the body; whereas I rather, quite contrary, by reason it too much separates and disunites them. As an enemy is made more fierce by our flight, so pain grows proud to see us truckle under her. She will surrender upon much better terms to them who make head against her: a man must oppose and stoutly set himself against her. In retiring and giving ground, we invite and pull upon ourselves the ruin that threatens us. As the body is more firm in an encounter, the more stiffly and obstinately it applies itself to it, so is it with the soul.

But let us come to examples, which are the proper game of folks of such feeble force as myself; where we shall find that it is with pain as with stones, that receive a brighter or a duller lustre according to the foil they are set in, and that it has no more room in us than we are pleased to allow it:

          "Tantum doluerunt, quantum doloribus se inseruerunt."

     ["They suffered so much the more, by how much more they gave way to
     suffering."—St. Augustin, De Civit. Dei, i. 10.]

Like many of us should know, there is a moment when tears are sufficient and keep crying is only a free theft to time. There is a clear border between the necessary tears and the tugged ones. When the tugged ones come, trying to do something would be nice, investing time of your life in action, fighting or making resistance, or even trying to say to the child in us that those monsters under the bed can be turned into something which is more inoffensive than before. 

Every time that something is overpowering me I say to myself: "can this thing be redimensioned? how about doing it?". 

Woody Allen said it in a different but similar way: let's have a laugh. Humor is always the way. I never take myself too seriously, and, well, I discover a great way of surviving. In fact, one of the last lines of this chapter is:

 

No man continues ill long but by his own fault.

The commented chapter is avalaible here

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The Information - Martin Amis
The Critique of Practical Reason - Immanuel Kant