Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back to blogging!

I am sorry I haven't written for months, but I have been very busy with my studies and almost everything I have been reading was connected to it. I even had to write reports on some of the books I read for university, so I did not bother to write a second review for the blog.
I do miss blogging though, and receiving some feedback abut the things I read. I MUST get back to writing, and I hope that I will be more constant in the future. I also miss reading whatever comes in my hands and reaching the enormous amount (for me) of fifty books per year. This year I am reading a lot of essays and poetry, because as you may know my doctoral thesis will be on three Indian women poets.
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
This was the saddest and sweetest novella I have ever read. I think it's nice to say how I came across this book. As you may know, I spent some months in London doing research at the British Library. On my way back from lunch break I saw a book on the pavement in front of the entrance, and I picked it up. I looked around to see if it belonged to someone. I imagined a tourist with a big backpack on his way to King's Cross station, just around the corner. The book had a price tag in Canadian dollars, so the owner must have come from across the ocean. I sat on the marble bench in the library backyard, with the book next to me, in case someone claimed it. I waited 20 minutes, drinking a coffee in the meantime, but nobody came. That's how the book came in my possession.
John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a classic of American literature. This said, I was reluctant in resuming Steinbeck, after I found The Grapes of Wrath not to my taste. Not that it was badly written (mind that I read that about thirteen years ago), but it was terribly depressing, and I could not connect with his characters, who lived in the Depression era in the United States, and had to travel for thousands of kilometres just to find a few days' work on a farm.
Of Mice and Men is set roughly in the same period and its characters are equally desperate for any kind of unskilled job. George and his simple-minded friend Lennie travel from one farm to the other. They keeping losing their job because Lennie often finds himself in trouble. What I found touching in the story of George and Lennie is the friendship between the two men: they look after each other, and in this way they try not to feel too lonely. Without a family, and constantly travelling, they live a meagre life. They dream of buying a place of their own, and this is what keeps them going. In the backdrop, you read about the poverty of America in those years, something not often talked about in fiction I think, and the racial divide that is strangling the country. It's a sad and hopeless America what John Steinbeck writes about. I must warn you that Steinbeck is not a writer for everyone: his writing is so down to earth that it reminds me of Hemingway, at least in this work. There is no complacency in his style, and this means no esthetic "ribbons". As you know, I am not a big fan of Hemingway. I understand his point (and Steinbeck's) but I don't find much pleasure in reading that kind of literature. I appreciated this book, Lennie is a sweet character and the metaphors at the end of the book are heart-breaking (I can't go on here without a spoiler!), but I am not going to dive into Steinbeck's opera omnia any time soon.


  1. Yes, you MUST get back to writing: mi sei mancata! Sono contenta di leggerti di nuovo.

    Anche io ho letto tanti anni fa Furore, non mi era dispiaciuto, però non mi era neanche venuta voglia di leggere altri suoi libri (e se anche mi fosse venuta, ora dopo il tuo post mi sarebbe passata!).

  2. This is a classic situation when the book finds the reader. Thanks for sharing and yes I agree about the 'missing' history of America's life, in fiction.