Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Books: Kick-start 2006

1. The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki

Was looking for Diary of a Mad Old Man but it was out. So I picked up this little novel instead. Tanizaki is always reliable for stories with that perverted erotic twist.

2. In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays By Bertrand Russell

Confession: I picked it up because the title seemed like a Slacker's Manifesto.

I found Russell surprisingly readable - except when he goes on and on about Fascism and Socialism. But how can you not like a man who advocate a 4-hour work day so that we can have more leisure time to become more well-rounded people?

3. Without Blood by Alessandro Baricco

When—in an unnamed place and time — Manuel Roca’s enemies hunt him down, they fail to discover Nina, his youngest child, hidden in a hole beneath his farmhouse floor. And so, doing just as her father instructed, she neither speaks nor stirs as he is viciously slain above her hiding place. Only after this carnage will one of the murderers discover Nina’s trapdoor. But Tito, a mere boy himself, is so enthralled by the sight of Nina’s perfect innocence that he says nothing to his accomplices.

By the time she has grown up, Nina’s innocence will have bloomed into something else altogether, and one by one the wartime hunters will become the peacetime hunted. But not until a striking old woman calls upon an old man selling newspapers in town — the old man Tito has become—can we know what Nina will ultimately make of her brutal legacy.

A compact little book by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco. The story starts with the murder, and then we cut to the old newspaper seller and the striking old woman. Cutting back and forth, Nina's life story is told in bits. There are the facts of Nina's life that she had been unaware of, but known to Tito. In the process some parts of Nina's life is reconstructed in the narrative, and metaphorically, what we see of Nina's journey is not revenge but a lifelong search to make whole what was destroyed on the night of the murder of her family.

1 comment:

precious said...

i used to love bertrand so much on account of this book. in my ignorance, i actually thought this was the reason he won a nobel prize (he did, didn't he?). but think he in fact won for some cheem cheem math/sentence logic thing that was far less entertaining and engaging. (or maybe he won a peace prize or something - i really have no idea what i'm talking about huh?) anyways, all this just goes to show that i'm fundamentally a frivolous person...