Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Incidental Inventions (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Elena Ferrante Illustrations by Andrea Ucini Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein Original Title: L’invenzione occasionale
Published byEuropa Editions (2019)
ISBN: 1609455584 (ISBN13: 9781609455583).Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me, book quote layouts via Typorama and another iPhone app.
I am a huge Elena Ferrante fan – so much so, that I dared not review her Neapolitan series which I read around four years back. When I accidentally found this title on Book Depository, I immediately purchased it – not really having any idea what it was about. It was one of my best impulse book buys, at least early this year.
Incidental Inventions is a collection of Ferrante’s weekly columns with the Guardian newspaper, paired with intriguing, minimalist, and thoughtful artwork by Italian Andrea Ucini who now lives in Denmark. In the Foreword of the book, which Ferrante titled Collisions, she described her creative process as she wrote about her weekly ruminations and inspirations for the Guardian.
After much hesitation, I told the editors that I would accept the offer if they would send me a series of questions, which I would answer, each time, within the limits of the allotted space.
This happened for an entire year, and the result is Incidental Inventions. She arranged the reflective pieces chronologically, eschewing the idea of creating themes or sections based on similar ideas. I literally inhaled everything, especially the ones about mothers and daughters, which especially resonated with me. It is like she has taken a peek at my most fervent wish and fashioned words out of it.
There is also the strong sense of grounded womanity, an unyielding certitude of who she is as a female, the many layers shed to compromise to a society that is often blind or unseeing to women’s strengths, expertise, brilliance. There is a sinuous exploration of the female psyche that is neither superficial or needlessly flattering or a pathetic scrambling for that which is out of reach – but more clear-eyed, no-nonsense, and gritty. See below:
There is also a declaration of what telling stories mean to her, which reminded me slightly of Kafka’s A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us:
Then there is also the compulsion to write, an urge that cannot be tamed – making this the perfect book for our World in Books theme:
Even if you have not read Ferrante yet, this will serve as a good introduction to her writing. The nuanced way she perceives the world, her grasp of reality, and the very distinctive way she expresses herself with quiet and unapologetic force and persuasion are all evident here. I will read everything she writes.
#ReadIntl2020 Update: 21 of 30 (country): Italy
#11 for Language (Italian).