In the High Peaks

Friday, October 7, 2016

Books Ahead and Elena Ferrante

I was so delighted to find Commonwealth by Ann Patchett on the New Books Shelf at my local  library today. So lucky--because it's in high demand. I've already dug into about 30 pages--the book begins with a christening party in Los Angeles sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. At this stage I'm not able to pinpoint the exact date.

The other book I snapped up is equally in demand. I picked up the only copy available of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend in the entire network of 30+ libraries serving our region (approximately 80 copies available, not counting audiobooks). I haven't read Ferrante, despite hearing great things from other people, because somewhere out there in the ether, perhaps several years ago, I read several linking articles explaining how and why her writing is over-rated. So I made a snap judgment to put her on the back burner for the time being.

However, as luck would have it, on Wednesday, on the way home after a trip to Boston, I listened to an exquisite program about Ferrante, a National Public Radio program, which was prompted by the news of her having been "outed" by an Italian journalist, who tracked down her true identity despite her wish to remain anonymous. The focus of the hour-long program that I especially liked was hearing from lots of women about what they so strongly valued in Ferrante's Neapolitan Trilogy. Her translator was on hand, as well as one or two other experts. The link to the program is: Tom Ashbrook's On Point: "The Meaning of Elena Ferrante."  Just scroll down to the program. Enjoy!