October 4, 2011

L’uomo nero e la bicicletta blu di Eraldo Baldini

Hersilia Press @ 10:04 pm

L'uomo nero e la bicicletta bluL’uomo nero e la bicicletta blu by Eraldo Baldini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sono cresciuta in città (Bologna) ma mio padre è nato e cresciuto in provincia, che ai suoi tempi era come aperta campagna. Ho sentito storie di finestre gelate all’interno, e mi ricordo gite da cugini che vivevano in campagna, dove si giocava nel fienile e si correva dietro alle galline.

Questo libro è la storia di un bambino, Gigi, cresciuto nei primi anni Sessanta nella Pianura Padana, in un paese di campagna dove tutti i pochi abitanti si conoscevano. La sua famiglia, composta dal babbo lavoratore mercante di animali, la mamma che riesce sempre a sistemare situazioni difficili, un fratello molto più furbo di lui, e un nonno che ne ha passate di cotte e di crude, non è abbiente ma la situazione diventa ancora più difficile a causa della condizioni economiche dell’intero paese. Gigi sta risparmiando e cercando di mettere da parte qualche soldino per comprarsi una bellissima bici blu che ha visto in una vetrina, sapendo che la sua famiglia non se la potrà mai permettere. Diventa amico di una bambina della sua età che si è trasferita da poco dalla città, e trova in lei un’amica vera con cui condividere i giri in bicicletta e la cattura delle rane.

Il libro ha aspetti sia di Bar sport e di Don Camillo, descrive in maniera impeccabile le campagne e la vita povera degli anni Sessanta, e i personaggi e gli avvenimenti rispecchiano l’ingenuità e la innata saggezza di un bambino di dieci anni. La prima metà del libro mi ha fatto ridere di gusto, tanto le situazioni (non poi così improbabili) sono descritte con ironia e semplicità. Nella seconda metà il libro cambia decisamente tono, e fa apparire aspetti diversi e inquietanti della situazione.

Mi è piaciuta moltissimo questa storia, che riesce a utilizzare parole semi-dialettali come cavedagna e sfrucugliare che non credo possano essere rese in alcun altro modo. Il linguaggio semplice, diretto e quasi scarno è una ventata di freschezza e rispecchia le situazioni ed emozioni descritte.

Il cambiamento di tono riflette la vicenda, che anche se per la maggior parte narrata dal punto di vista di Gigi bambino, è un flashback, e viene narrata con la consapevolezza di un adulto.

Se questo è un romanzo ‘letterario’, sono decisamente curiosa di leggere le storie noir di Eraldo Baldini.

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September 15, 2011

The Glitter Scene by Monika Fagerholm

Hersilia Press @ 1:54 pm

The Glitter SceneThe Glitter Scene by Monika Fagerholm

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I received this book, courtesy of the publisher, I was a little puzzled as it was described as a murder mystery but the cover was unlike any other murder mystery book I’d seen. At this point I have to admit that I am a bit of a font and book nerd and the cover of this volume is absolutely beautiful – not just beautiful to look at, it is tactile as well (one point scored for the supporters of the “kindle-will-never-replace-that”). But I digress.

I started reading and I kept thinking I was missing words. The style of this book is so peculiar it was like reading Ulysses all over again: you will see what I mean when you read the book. It is like modern art or contemporary classical music: it takes a while to understand, and you think it’s really weird, but amazingly it all works, and eventually you do understand it, a little while after having closed the book. Which is exactly what happened to me.

I don’t think you can summarise the plot, as it is anything but linear: there are different points of view, flashbacks and overlap between them. It is an “impressionistic” book in that you have to let the words take you where the author wants you, the reader, to be. The characters are viewed from their own point of view and the point of view of one other character in the story: there isn’t an omniscient narrator that we can rely on and trust, to help us form an opinion of the characters. This prevents empathising with them, but makes the reader be the narrator him/herself: it is almost as if the story is unfolding in front of our very eyes, with all its complexities, emotions and lack of objectivity.

I liked this book once I finished it – it is, more than a story, an experience or an emotion.

The translator has done a brilliant job for a book which must have been a very difficult assignment indeed.

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September 8, 2011

Il Giorno della Civetta by Leonardo Sciascia

Hersilia Press @ 6:30 pm

Il giorno della civettaIl giorno della civetta by Leonardo Sciascia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is impossible to do justice to a book like this, which has become a classic and in the opinion of many (me included) should be compulsory reading at school. It is the first Italian fiction book to deal with the mafia phenomenon, which is nowadays commonly accepted as a reality of many societies (not only Italy) but when Sciascia was writing, it certainly wasn’t.

The book deals with the murder of an entrepreneur, Colasberna, at the hands of the mafia. Carabinieri Captain Bellodi, who is originally from Parma in the north of the country, is determined to identify the culprit, but despite the murder having taken place on a crowded bus and in a public place, no witnesses come forward and nobody has heard or seen anything. Bellodi meets the local Godfather, who assures him the mafia doesn’t exist, a concept repeated in Parliament where a politician claims it is an invention of the communists. The real culprits have unassailable alibis and the murder is declared a crime of passion, attributed to the lover of Colasberna’s wife.

Sciascia is ground-breaking not only because he is one of the first gialli writers, but also because he writes about contemporary criminal reality, which he knew well as a Sicilian and as a member of Parliament. He also is one of the first writers to have a strong impegno, the socio-political commitment which is a denunciation of everyday real life, where justice is not always made. In this book, as in many others (especially Italian) there is no “happy” ending (as much as a book with a murder can have a happy ending), no closure, no sense that justice has been made. And this is exactly why these books have become classics.

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