Both of the following books were written by Italian authors and both are short books, printed in a small format – 162 pages / 203 pages.
Naturally, I assumed I would be reading each one quite quickly, especially as we’ve been on lockdown.
I was mistaken.
“Invisible Cities” by Calvino is a book that I had to read very slowly. In fact, I couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time. The book isn’t really a “book” in the usual sense, there’s no real story line – but rather a “procession” of very rich descriptions of more than 50 “invisible cities”. All these cities are considered to be the many faces of Venice.
After reading a description I had to stop and think – what did I just read? What was Calvino trying to say here?
Sometimes I was moved, and felt that a description was powerful, or lyrical. So many people live /work in a place and don’t really look at it – so much is being missed!
Sometimes I didn’t get the point of the description at all.
Sometimes I got annoyed that some descriptions were a bit repetitve.
I know it’s a strange thing to say, but I truly found the book to be too long. I wished it had been a series of blog posts which would send me a description of one “invisible city” a week to ponder. More than 50 such descriptions in short succession had me losing the ability to focus properly on them all.
Ties by Starnone
It is interesting to note that in Hebrew this book is called “Shoelaces”. I have no idea what the original title in Italian means but “ties” is a more of a “give- away” of a clever metaphor that the shoelaces represent in the book.
This is a book you don’t want to know too much about in advance as it has some surprising parts. It’s a story about a family in a crises, over years, and is told in different ways in the books several parts. I had the book pegged one way and then it became a little different.
One one hand, it held my interest and I read it (yes, much quicker than the previous one) all the way through gladly. On the other hand, I didn’t find the characters completely “convincing” and some of the story line didn’t make sense, or rather “ring true”.
Not sorry I read it though.