Happy Wednesday everyone! I can’t believe that time is zooming past us. We’re nearly midway through 2022! 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:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
I have decided to extend my immersion into the complex and intricate web of European literature. Yesterday, I finished my third book written by an Italian writer on this journey, Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Since I have been alternating familiar writers with new-to-me writers, I am now reading my first novel by Serbian writer Aleksandar Tišma, making it my second trip to the Balkan peninsula this past five weeks, after Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s The Accident. Actually, I was planning to read a different work by the Serbian writer, Kapo, a book I acquired earlier this year. I was about to pick it up when I realized I have another book by Tišma I acquired earlier so The Use of Man it is. Set during the early years of the Second World War, the novel captured the life and beat of the Yugoslavian city of Novi Sad through the story of a couple of its residents. I am still trying to find my footing in the story and will provide more insights in this week’s First Impression update.
What have you finished reading?
My European reading journey has certainly transported me to different parts of the continent. One part of the continent one should never miss out on would be France, the country that birthed several legendary writers such as Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Marcel Proust. Walking down their path is contemporary writer Michel Houellebecq whose prose I was finally able to explore through Atomised, also known as The Elementary Particles. I was actually reluctant to read the book at first because of what I perceived as elements of science. It certainly did but it was another element that discomfited me at the start. For starters, the novel followed the separate destinies of half-brothers Bruno Clément and Michel Djerzinski, born of a hippie-type mother. They were raised separately and grew up barely knowing about each other. However, they both live lives devoid of love. In its place are several sexual encounters. Masturbation, lust, and lascivious acts abounded throughout the story, especially in the first two-thirds. I guess one part of it was Michel’s profession; he was a molecular biologist at the helm of a cloning study that basically eliminates love from reproduction. The story redeemed itself in the last stretch but it was a challenge reaching that point.
Umberto Eco has certainly earned a fan in me with his debut novel, The Name of the Rose. It was a book I have been looking forward to for too long and once the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate. It was one of those books I immediately knew I would love and I wasn’t wrong. My reader-writer relationship with Eco, however, did not start very well. I found Baudolino confusing and a little too similar to Don Quixote, another book I didn’t enjoy much. As for my third novel by Eco, I really wasn’t as impressed as I was compared to his debut novel. The novel was narrated by Giambattista Bodoni or more fondly referred to as Yambo. At the start of the novel, he lost his episodic memory due to a stroke. He can remember his semantic memory but not his wife, and not his family. He also cannot even remember his own name. In order to regain his memory, he traveled to Solara, his childhood home where he browsed through newspaper clippings, poems, vinyl records, books, and magazines. It was a plethora of information from an era nearly forgotten. However, all of these did not amount to anything or even to a robust plot. The action started picking up later in the story but it was a tad too late. Readers who love to derive trivia from the books they read might find this book fascinating.
What will you read next?
From the Balkan Peninsula, I am planning to return to the United Kingdom with another novel by a writer who has awed me. David Mitchell definitely left me wanting for more after his magnum opus, Cloud Atlas, a book I read late in 2015. Nearly seven years later, I am looking forward to reading my fourth novel written by him, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I am lining up Bernhard Schlink’s Olga. For the longest time, I have been wanting to read the German writer’s The Reader but I never got the chance to obtain a copy of his popular novel. I guess Olga will do for now and I hope it will provide me an insight into his prose. Russian literature is one of my favorite parts of the literary world and I am surprised to learn that it has been nearly two years since I read a novel written by a Russian writer; that was Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita which I read in early 2020. Because of this, I am seriously considering reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Poor People. If ever, it would be my third book by the Russian writer. Come to think of it, the last time I read one of his works was in 2018, with Crime and Punishment. Maybe the time is ripe for another exploration of the Russian spirit?
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!