Going to review my book club books together since I wasn't an overwhelming fan of either of them. (Also, I thought it would be polite to save my dissection of these books until after discussing them semi-drunkenly with some fabulous ladies! Hello ladies!)
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
This book is not an easy read and I dare anyone to defy me on that. It's hard to maintain your focus and the pronouns will make your head spin. Not to mention that there are at least eleven different plots contained within the covers of this tale.
|Seriously, Arthur Dent had a better grasp on the Universe than I did on this plot.|
It's originally written in Italian, so I'm willing to bet that some of the difficulty I had was in an overly snobbish translation, but this book is about a Reader (is it you?) and an Other Reader (she gets a name, Ludmilla) who cross paths after discovering that the latest work by Italo Calvino they began reading is incomplete. The subsequent attempts to attain a copy to finish the story are all met without success and only succeed in giving the Reader an additional nine stories which are also incomplete to add to his frustration. Every chapter is followed by the story in question and for a long time I didn't realize that the chapters were actually forming a cohesive plot.
|Oh, so this is going somewhere...|
It is funny at times and the ending did have a moment of sharp wit that really thrilled me. Several of the incomplete stories are also very fascinating and hold a lot of promise that never gets fulfilled (obviously). I will never be recommending this book to anyone, unless someone comes to me desperately requesting something more brain-bending than Inception. Although, I do think someone should turn this into a very funny and slightly weird film. With Martin Freeman as the Reader, he just does adorably befuddled so well.
UPDATE: This book has progressively grown on me in the months since reading. Having read some more Italian authors since then, I've discovered that they are all just wonderfully weird. I now recommend this book quite often.
Not anything I would ever have picked up one my own and it never exactly won me over. I'm sure this is meant to be a lovely analysis of what a stroke can do to a family, but Diane Ackerman's account of the events surrounding and following her husband's, fellow author Paul West, stroke read more like a series of musings on language. I should also mention that I had absolutely emotional reaction to her words, me who cries at everything, nothing was stirred within me.
The author is a deft hand at the art of writing, but I think this would have made a much more impressive essay than a 300 page book. Just saying.