Happy Wednesday everyone! By the way, how are you enjoying 2022 so far? I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year.

As it is a Wednesday, it is time for another WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently in the midst of a European literature reading month. My journey has transported me to Spain with my first novel by Javier Marías. I would have not come across him had he not been recommended by a fellow reader. I tried to acquire a copy of A Heart So White, the book he recommended but, unfortunately, I was unable to. Instead, I was able to obtain a copy of two of his other works, one of which was Berta Isla. The titular Berta Isla is the wife of Tomás  or Tom Nevinson. Berta was Madrilena while Tom was half-Spanish and half-British. The novel was set in 1970s Madrid. Berta and Tom were childhood sweethearts but something happened during Tom’s stay at Oxford that inevitably changes his life course. We learn that he is a spy for the British government and a chunk of the story covered a discussion between husband and wife on the hypocrisy of his profession. For his part, this is the latter half of the 20th century, a time when espionage was prevalent. The Cold War we can call it. The book is quite thick but there was very little action happening. I hope that something does happen although I do enjoy the discourse about Tom’s profession and the historical details woven into the novel’s tapestry. Interestingly, I am having quite an easy time reading the book.

What have you finished reading?

Finally! Yes, finally I have read Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, a book I obtained way back in 2015. I held back on the book after I learned that it was part of a seven-book novel collectively called In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past, an epic tome that defined Proust’s literary career. It is his magnum opus. Seven years thence, I already have six of the seven books and I deem it the right time to commence my journey into Proust’s prose. Swann’s Way, for certain, was no easy read. It was narrated by an anonymous narrator who opened the story with his memories of childhood at Combray, his family’s country home. Charles Swann was one of their family friends and happened to visit them at Combray. Swann was Jewish and was well-connected. The book was divided into three parts and the part I found the most engaging was the middle part, titled Swann In Love. It captured Swann’s love story with Odette de Crécy, a former courtesan. It was a push and pull love story as Swann was uncertain of his position in Odette’s life. Apart from this intriguing love story, the novel also set out the tone of In Search of Lost Time. I was also introduced to the characters who, I surmise, I will meet in the succeeding books. Another quality I appreciated was the book’s free-flowing language. The paragraphs were long and could have been tedious but the writing was on point and helped ease the tediousness of the text.

From one new-to-me writer to one who is already familiar. From France, I traveled back to Italy with Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees. After If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, a book I was in awe of, The Baron in the Trees is my second novel by Calvino. Four years have already passed since I read my first Calvino novel. The novel commenced on June 15, 1767, in Ombrosa, an imaginary village on the Ligurian Riviera. June 15 was a pivotal moment for it was the day when Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò, the eldest child of Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò, decided to live the rest of his life living in the trees surrounding the village. He reached this resolution after a disagreement with his father. He vowed never to step down the trees, hence, becoming the titular Baron in the trees. While living incognito in the trees, Cosimo encountered several interesting and unusual characters: a young girl who he fell in love with, a bandit who loved to read, and an entire Spanish family excommunicated by the Pope. The story can certainly be interpreted as a form of resistance to conformity. It is about outcasts and the refusal to be weighed down by the expectations of society. It was interesting but I didn’t find it impressive. The fact that Cosimo was explored through the lenses of his younger brother, Biagio, was disappointing for we never get to have his complete psychological profile.

After Berta Isla, I am thinking of reading the work of another new-to-me writer in French Michel Houellebecq. I think my first encounter with him was the unusual titles of his works which bring to mind science. Atomised is an example of this although I obtained a copy of the book mostly because of sheer curiosity. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what it has in store. Ismail Kadare, on the other hand, is a familiar writer; I have read The General of the Dead Army back in 2019. I am hoping to read more of the Albanian writer’s corpus and The Accident sounds like a book that will provide me more insights into his body of work. I am also looking at reading Tarjei Vesaa’s The Ice Palace. I have just learned that Tarjei Vesaa is a legendary Norwegian writer and that The Ice Palace is often considered his best work.

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!