Sunday 30 September 2007

The God of small things by Arundhati Roy

I have mixed feelings about this one. I had hoped to loose myself in it and be completely absorbed by the story, but that never happened really. At first, I was intrigued by the use of the language, so experimental and new. But after a while it started to be an obstacle, it didn’t let me enjoy the story freely. I had to stop many times to actually figure out what she meant and what was going on. It didn’t help that the timeline was mixed up constantly, making it hard at the beginning to follow the narration. The first chapters were hard to get into because of all the Indian names and words I didn’t know. There were so many characters and each seemed to have a story of their own. I normally like these family sagas, so I stopped and started reading it again from the beginning. That helped. Soon though, her style became somewhat annoying. Not because it didn’t sound beautiful. It did. But it was overdone. She kept repeating some words and phrases like a chant, or a refrain. And if that’s good in a song, I found out it doesn’t sound as pleasant in a novel. It stopped the story from flowing into me.
However, I kept reading. Partly because I was hoping that I would gradually accept her style and then just enjoy it. But mostly because I liked the story, I liked the little twins, who embodied the real meaning of the word “soul-mates”. I just wanted to know was going to happen to them. You can sense since the beginning that something had happened to this family, something terrible, unspeakable. How did the little cousin Sophie Mol died? Why had Estha, one the twins, been returned, like an unwanted parcel? Who is this Velutha that’s mentioned at the beginning, and what was his role in the tragedy? The author keeps the suspense on till the end, when in few chapters everything unravels and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Normally stories like this would depress me. I’d feel powerless in front of the inevitability of faith. But the way the author decided to end it, twisting the timeline again, leaves you with a happy, tender feeling, even if it’s a hopeless one. So I’m glad I read it and I made till the end. I’m not sure if I could handle another book with the same style, but it was interesting at least. It took me an awful lot of time to read, which is never good. But it left me some beautiful metaphors (she really has a talent for them) like this one:
He began to look wiser than he really was. Like a fisherman in a city. With sea-secrets in him.
New verbs like smiling out loud.
And a Banana Jam recipe that I might try one day!

Wednesday 26 September 2007


I've recently finished reading Love, Stargirl...I think I could read about Stargirl and live in her world forever! This book, like the first one, gave me so much energies and will to do things that I came up with THE DEFINITIVE resolution of the year. I've decided that I have to finish the story I'm writing. I never talk about it. It's my secret dream, to be able to finish it and say "I've written a book", and "let's start with something else!". I always find an excuse for not sitting down and write . There's always a better book, or I'm always tired or not in the mood. But as of today there won't be anymore excuses. Reading books is forbidden within the house. I can read on the train, on the bus, on my lunch break, fifteen minutes break, and MAYBE, if I've written something during the day, I can read before sleeping, in bed. I won't have another lazy day off when all I do is reading. Extra artistic activities are allowed since they help the mood, but only after I've started writing. I don't know why, but the hardest thing it to actually sit down and start. Once I've overcome this first step , I start creating and I have fun. But I guess I'm just lazy. And insecure.
So, since my mother and my best friend both want to read the end of it, I'm going to ban books till I'm finished!!
I'm very proud of this resolution. And I'm writing it on my blog to make it more definite, to take a commitment.
Now, don't ask what the story is about. I will tell you more when it's finished. Let's just say it's for children, it's a fantasy and it's written in Italian, obviously. I hope I will be posting LESS reviews and MORE updates on my writing progresses. Wish me luck!:)

This doesn't mean I won't post reviews at all. I have loads to write!
Upcoming reviews include:
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- Boy by Roald Dahl
- Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
and the latest by David Almond, author of Skellig "My dad is a birdman", his first book for younger readers, illustrated by Polly Dunbar and out on 1 October. It's brilliant!

Photo taken by Marta Starosta, 2005

Sunday 23 September 2007

Skellig - David Almond

I chose to read this because 1) it’s a Carnegie medal winner, and 2) it was in the library. So, despite my neverending piles of books to read, I checked it out. I wanted to prove that I could do it. That “the reading” is what matters, and not “the keeping”. And it worked!

It was also worth it because it’s a great book. Strange in many aspects, with an unusual theme and no easy answers.
It’s the story of Michael, a boy who finds a strange creature in his new house’s garage. Is he a man, a bird, or what?
It’s also the story of Michael’s deep link with his newborn sister’s little heart, so fragile, and yet so present next to his own heartbeat. I was moved by the very real reactions of Michael and his father, by how they clung to each other, how they fought but in the end cried and hugged each other. It’s hard to find such a display of emotions in a relationship between father and son.
Michael’s fears are eased by his friendship with the mysterious creature and by Mina, a slightly annoying home-schooled girl, who lives next door and loves William Blake and birds. Mina shows Michael her secret place and teaches him how to observe the hidden life that goes on around us, the small extraordinary things that we usually never notice. In exchange Michael offers her his friendship and his own secret.

“Skellig” is a tale filled with love: of Michael for his sister and for “the man in the garage”, of Mina for nature and poems and drawings. And of Skellig for his little saviours.

A short novel that feels like a little treasure, special and rare.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Third Edition of the Bookworks Carnival is On!

And this month looks especially great! Check it out at BookNut.

Since September is back-to-school time, Melissa has creatively decided to post the links as in a college course catalog, so go there, choose your course and leave a comment:)
I'll try and read every single submission this time!!

If you haven't participate yet, you have a chance to be included in the next edition, which will be hosted next month at This is the Life. The theme will be "Thrills and Chills: Spooky Books That Keep You Up at Night". Go blogging! The form to submit your post is here or just send an e-mail to the host.

Thursday 13 September 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Comfort food

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

I'm just back from my holiday in Italy, and I feel a bit guilty for leaving my poor little blog all alone for so long so I thought it deserves a new post, and what's better that a "Booking through Thursday one"? :)

So, for the weekly question...hmm, I don't think I'm one for reading when I feel down and everything is going bad. I usually prefer the lazy and degrading option of watching TV, when I have a TV (now I don't!) and eat some junk food. Or watch some episode of Buffy for the 10th time. Or go to the cinema or around town for some window-shopping. But mostly if I feel REALLY bad, I just curl up in bed and cry. It makes me feel better after a while. Then I might cook myself a butternut squash soup to bring to bed.
But, if I feel like reading something I think I'd choose a comic, preferably a manga. If I were in Italy I would just drive to my manga shop, load up on back issues of my favourites, maybe buy some new ones, then stop at the bakery nearby and by "schiacciata" bread and lemon ice-tea. Then I would go back home and spend the afternoon or the whole day, depends on how down I feel, reading them.
When I'm really sad I can't face a proper book. It takes too much concentration. Also, I never re-read books as a comfort measure. Now that I think about it, I might be able to re-read Harry Potter. Yes, definitely Harry Potter or manga for comfort reading. Nothing else. Oh, I forgot gossip magazines. But that's not real reading is it? It's crisps for the mind :D