Monday 25 August 2014

Reading on the beach, Bonassola

The father of the very noisy little boy is reading comic strips. The young man in the soft, hairy mode of Jesus that has been current for the past half-century, is reading, if that's the right word, puzzles on his tablet. The woman who arrived just after us to this tiny bay at the morning end of the beach, and seemed peeved that we were there at all and even taking her chosen spot, is reading The Book Thief (in Italian). I'm on the last few chapters of Journey by Moonlight, reading slower and slower, not wanting to get to the end.

Walk round the headland to the small private beach of La Francesca. Sea too rough for swimming. Water breaking noisily around large rocks, leaving a small quiet area in which to paddle. We settle in this new place. A blonde woman of forty something stands in the water petting a much younger black woman with a red handkerchief tied round her leg. Later she, the blonde one, is reading one of those Khaled Hosseini novels (in Italian). P walks out beyond the small breakwater that protects the bay, and reports a naked man standing on a promontory holding a book out in front of him, he can't see what. Kierkegaard I expect, if not Nietzsche. When I go to look I see only an upturned copy of a Dan Brown novel (in Italian) left on a rock. Meanwhile, in the shallow water, a young woman stands for some time reading a book whose title I struggle to see, lying down lower so as to be beneath the level of the front cover. She moves occasionally, facing the rock, the beach, into the sun, away from the sun. I have not seen this kind of reading since the man on the bike in my childhood who always had a book perched on top of his bike basket. The roads were quiet then. The reader in the water turns my way and finally I see the cover of her book: Smilla's sense of snow (in Italian). Sense of snow, sense of tideless sea crashing against a large volcanic rock (calme bloc d'ici-bas chu d'un d├ęsastre obscur). Before we leave I'll tell her, if I can, how much I liked watching her read.

No one is reading. Except menus.
The reader in the water was a dancer called Gaia, studying dance theatre. She was working for the summer at La Francesca and Smilla's sense of snow was a set book. The other book I brought with me is The Ice Palace. I was doubtful as I chose it, but now, after Journey by moonlight and Smilla's sense of the tideless sea, it seems entirely appropriate.

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