A ‘classic’ was defined by Italian author Italo Calvino as “…a book that’s never finished saying what it has to say.”
Now, I’m not claiming that the books I truly loved this year are ‘classics’, however, I’m borrowing Calvino’s definition to guide my list of top picks for 2016. This year, I’m paying less attention to five-star ratings and more attention to the books that are still speaking to me. Continue reading
Here’s my year in books (with thanks to the Goodreads record keeping tool): Continue reading
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I began Sara Stridsberg’s The Gravity of Love, a story about a Swedish psychiatric hospital*. What I got was a mesmerizing, beautifully written and sometimes alarming story, told predominantly through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Jackie, the daughter of one of the hospital’s patients, Jim. Jim is an alcoholic with a suicide-wish –
‘He has made up his mind to die, again. He announces it, in so many words, as soon as he comes through the door… “I don’t want to be old, Jackie. There’s nothing left to live for.” He has come to Stockholm to say goodbye… and asked for my blessing; and I have given it to him because I generally give him what he asks for. I have always been silenced by his presence, all thought inside me erased.’
The narrative moves back and forth in time and throughout, there’s an ethereal quality to the writing. Vignettes – of twilight hours, a fur coat, a broken string of beads, a curiosity shop, a doctor who may be as mad as his patients, and trees in the park – are stitched together with Stridsberg’s tremendously lovely words.
‘The stars seemed to have slipped slightly in the sky, and in the darkness we hear the ocean’s breathing, which never stops, the heavy waves beating against the shore before they draw back into the deep.’ Continue reading