Wednesday, 30 March 2016

I mostly read books by writers who are dead and from countries I don't live in but have visited, like France, America and Italy. I read them two or three times, or more. It's a pleasure to find one that has been forgotten for years. An old Penguin like The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio Bassani, 136 pages of big type and short chapters, soft yellowed paper. I choose fascism and homophobia in Ferrara, 1937, over any tale of Ireland or Britain in 2016. Distance is endemic, it seems. Not sure where that is in the genome sequence, or what pruning of the synapses in my tumultuous youth brought about the need to see things from far away.

If they are as far away as all that. In my mind the decades before I was born take place primarily in Europe. That's my preferred version. I like to read about Europe of that time, to ride my bike round the wall that bounds the garden of the Finzi-Continis in Ferrara, hear the sound of tennis, the golden afternoon from which I'm banished—if I ever went in.

This is also Modiano land. Another outsider on his bike, on patrol around the periphery, anxious, distracted, too literate for his own good.

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