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Incidental Inventions

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“This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.” With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged i “This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.” With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged interlocution; the subjects ranged from first love to climate change, from enmity among women to the adaptation of her novels to film and TV. As she said in her final column: “I have written as an author of novels, taking on matters that are important to me and that—if I have the will and the time—I’d like to develop within real narrative mechanisms.” Here, then, are the seeds of possible future novels, the ruminations of an internationally beloved author, and the abiding preoccupations of a writer who has been called “one of the great novelists of our time” (the New York Times). Gathered together for the first time in a beautiful gift edition and accompanied by an entirely new introduction written by Elena Ferrante and Andrea Ucini’s intelligent, witty, and beautiful illustrations, this is a must for all Ferrante fans.


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“This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.” With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged i “This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.” With these words, Elena Ferrante, the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend, bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces, the subjects of which were suggested by editors at the Guardian, turning the writing process into a kind of prolonged interlocution; the subjects ranged from first love to climate change, from enmity among women to the adaptation of her novels to film and TV. As she said in her final column: “I have written as an author of novels, taking on matters that are important to me and that—if I have the will and the time—I’d like to develop within real narrative mechanisms.” Here, then, are the seeds of possible future novels, the ruminations of an internationally beloved author, and the abiding preoccupations of a writer who has been called “one of the great novelists of our time” (the New York Times). Gathered together for the first time in a beautiful gift edition and accompanied by an entirely new introduction written by Elena Ferrante and Andrea Ucini’s intelligent, witty, and beautiful illustrations, this is a must for all Ferrante fans.

30 review for Incidental Inventions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    “Incidental Inventions”, by Elena Ferrante... was is a weekly column - proposed by the ‘Guardian’. “The First time”... Elena attempted to write about her first times....the first time she saw the sea, an airplane, got drunk, and fell in love. She discovered that describing her first love truthfully was not easy or sufficient. Too much stereotyping melancholy of adolescence. She dropped her project. “Fears”... Elena shares things she is afraid of..( a lot) ... but.... “what perhaps should be feared “Incidental Inventions”, by Elena Ferrante... was is a weekly column - proposed by the ‘Guardian’. “The First time”... Elena attempted to write about her first times....the first time she saw the sea, an airplane, got drunk, and fell in love. She discovered that describing her first love truthfully was not easy or sufficient. Too much stereotyping melancholy of adolescence. She dropped her project. “Fears”... Elena shares things she is afraid of..( a lot) ... but.... “what perhaps should be feared most is the fury of frightened people”. “Keeping a Diary”... This was my favorite story. It gives insight into how and why Elena became a fiction writer. “The End”... Elena explores beliefs in death, dying, and living. “The False and the True”.. Elena shares the difficulty between drawing a line of separation between fiction and nonfiction. “Give me any small everyday event and I will make it a five-act-play”. “Linguistic Nationality”... Elena loves her country but doesn’t have any patriotic spirit. Being Italian for her begins and ends with the fact that she writes and speaks in the Italian language. Not a pizza loving, Mafia loving girl. “Laughter”... Sweet .... I didn’t laugh...but I enjoyed her insight into laughing’s possible purpose and value. “Pregnant”... ( adorable - perfectly selected drawing at the start)... Thoughts from the natural to the artificial uterus. “Odious Women”... LOVED IT... Elena’s thoughts about women! She’s on our side, ladies! 👩‍🏫👩🏽‍⚕️👩🏻‍🎤 “Daughters”... I laughed when Elena said that her daughters remind her that she is an era of the fountain pen and payphone. She looks at her daughters sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with alarm, and sees herself in their bodies and in their tone of voice. I think many mothers can relate to this essay....hoping that as our daughters age, they will one day find their mother in them - while they continue to be themselves more fully with greater autonomy. Another favorite. “The Exclamation Point”... This was the most thought provoking essay for me personally. I totally heard what she wrote, and see her point of you… and it’s something that I need to look at. (!!!!!!) I felt bad! “The Only True Name”... What I found interesting, having read many of her books is how the term ‘unknown’, is a word that Elena has liked since adolescence. It makes sense, given that for many years she was an unknown as a novelist. “The Male Story of Sex”... AMEN..... fascinating and well written. I didn’t want it to end. “Trembling”... They look at religion. “I have no liking for the throne we have assigned ourselves by declaring that we are beloved children of God and Lord of the universe”. “Women Friends and Acquaintances”... Elena had me thinking again... about my own relationship to the word friend and how are use it. I felt bad again! But I do deeply love my friends. “Digging”...(I loved the drawings for this essay, too)... There is nothing Elena won’t write about…but she likes writing that adopts a sort of aesthetics of reticence, writing that suggests, writing that alludes. “Writing That Urges”... Agree....” The art of discouraging with kind words is among the most widely practiced”. Wise words from Elena ( again) “Addictions”... Pure joy for Elena was writing accompanied by a cigarette. “Cigarettes, alcohol, cocaine are to varying degrees dark glasses, and give us the impression that we can more readily tolerate the collision with life, more comfortably savour it”.... “But is it true?”. That what enslaves us empowers us?”.... Elena us no longer a smoker. “Insomnia”... going to stop reviewing every essay - but smiled at the ‘drawing’ for this one, too. A picture speaks many words!! “The Pleasure of Learning”... “Discontent”... “Probably, as I grow old, my discontent has also grown old”. “Winners and Losers”... By the time I read this story… 42%/ kindle reading....into my reading... I already had a great hunch of what I was about to read. And you might too...... but she powerfully examines and tries to understand winners and losers. We examine too. The rest of the stories in order... “Bad Feelings”... “Ellipses”... ( more insights on writing and morality)... “Works of Art”... “The Deluge of News”... “Literary Novelty”... “What is truly new in literature is only our uniquely individual way of using the storehouse of the worlds literature”. “Lies”.... “Confessing”... “Clean Breaks”... How do you feel honestly feel about change? “Mothers”... I think it’s very possible that many daughters feel like this: “Sometimes she seemed to me to be beautiful and clever just so that everyone would see me as ugly and stupid”.... ”A secret cord that can’t be cut binds us to the bodies of our mothers: there’s no way to detach ourselves......” MY VERY FAVORITE.... I even felt teary-eyed. “At the Movies”... “Happy Childhoods”... “Interviews”... “Love Forever”... “No Reason”... (very compelling topic about enemies)... “Creative Freedom”... Wow.... I never knew that Maggie Gyllenhaal announced that she would adapt Elena’s novel, “The Lost Daughter”, for the screen. “Plants”... “Leave-Taking”... “Women Who Write”... “Stereotyped”... “The Book and the Film”... “Dying Young”... BEAUTIFUL & TOUCHING “Jealousy”... “Not Enough”...( Tom Hanks would love the drawing) “The Female Version”... “Poetry and Prose”... “This is Me”... “Black Skies”... “What we learn when we’re young is difficult to correct”. “Stories That Instruct”... “The Last Time”... Elena wrote these essays in one year. She’s never done this type of work before- with an offer and deadline. She hesitated for a long time before considering the challenge. The folks at ‘Guardian’, sent her 52 questions in writing: one a week. She was constantly afraid of failing…but she succeeded in my book!!! I enjoyed these LOTS.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    Stuff. Our lives are filled with stuff. Both material and emotional. All sorts of detritus. Flotsam and jetsam. All sorts of thoughts. All sorts of ponderings. Big, small. Important, trivial. Happy, sad. Stuff that keeps you awake at night. Stuff that amuses you as you’re having a cuppa at a favourite café, watching the world walk by. What a delight to have Elena Ferrante put pen to paper to write about this “stuff”. Ms. Ferrante writes about feelings, art, language, society, gender, sex, feminis Stuff. Our lives are filled with stuff. Both material and emotional. All sorts of detritus. Flotsam and jetsam. All sorts of thoughts. All sorts of ponderings. Big, small. Important, trivial. Happy, sad. Stuff that keeps you awake at night. Stuff that amuses you as you’re having a cuppa at a favourite café, watching the world walk by. What a delight to have Elena Ferrante put pen to paper to write about this “stuff”. Ms. Ferrante writes about feelings, art, language, society, gender, sex, feminism, nationalism, religion, therapy, jealousy, insomnia, friendship. Everything and anything. There is a quiet calm to her ponderings. She captures the essence of her thoughts so beautifully. ”Laughter is a short, very short, sigh of relief.” I can absolutely understand why she has a legion of adoring fans. There is just something in her writing, in her turn of phrase, that makes me go “Yes! I know you”. And perhaps even more importantly, that I feel that she knows me. And this is the type of relationship with a writer which is so special. I read this on my eReader and adored it. I want to get a hardback copy so I can pore over it. Carry a copy with me so I can read it down the beach with the waves roaring in my ears, and the scent of the sea on the air. Or sitting on the steps of the Art Gallery the next time I'm there. Turning to a random page, and nodding wisely at strangers, knowing that I've read something they really should know about. Settle back with a glass or mug of your favourite brew, and savour these words. Don’t rush, take your time. Your soul will thank you. An utter delight. The beautiful illustrations are the cherry on top. Words: Elena Ferrante Illustrations: Andrea Uncini Translation: Ann Goldstein

  3. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I once said I’d read anything Ferrante wrote, thus my getting to this collection of weekly columns written for The Guardian over a period of a year. But, while I agree with most of the things she says, I didn’t find it necessary reading. I didn’t find anything exciting until the 72% mark, at the end of “Creative Freedom,” after she explains why she’ll stay out of the way of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s filmic interpretation of The Lost Daughter but wouldn’t do so if it had been a man adapting her work. S I once said I’d read anything Ferrante wrote, thus my getting to this collection of weekly columns written for The Guardian over a period of a year. But, while I agree with most of the things she says, I didn’t find it necessary reading. I didn’t find anything exciting until the 72% mark, at the end of “Creative Freedom,” after she explains why she’ll stay out of the way of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s filmic interpretation of The Lost Daughter but wouldn’t do so if it had been a man adapting her work. Shortly afterward in “Women Who Write,” I thought of William Maxwell with Ferrante's saying few men “have said they were in any way indebted to the work of a woman writer.” Among Italian writers, only one comes to her mind: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard, “who wrote that he had benefited from reading Virginia Woolf.” The same was true of Maxwell.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This is a tantalizing little book, 52 brief essays written for the Guardian over the course of a year, one a week, each two pages in length and headed by a gently moody illustration. Each essay was written in response to a question posed by the paper, the question which is interestingly withheld from the reader. Could their titles have been the question? "The First Time," "Laughter", "The Exclamation Point," "The Male Story of Sex," "Clean Breaks," "At the Movies," "Plants," "Not Enough," "Dying This is a tantalizing little book, 52 brief essays written for the Guardian over the course of a year, one a week, each two pages in length and headed by a gently moody illustration. Each essay was written in response to a question posed by the paper, the question which is interestingly withheld from the reader. Could their titles have been the question? "The First Time," "Laughter", "The Exclamation Point," "The Male Story of Sex," "Clean Breaks," "At the Movies," "Plants," "Not Enough," "Dying Young," and so on. What brings the book together of course is the sensibility behind them all. Ferrante the writer, the interior self who does the writing, is by nature a balker. She's the one who refuses to give the common response, but has to pull back and think again--tease out the nuance, ask seriously: How do I really feel about this? She is the guest without a sense of humor or wit or ease, refusing to grease the wheels of easy conversation, but pauses to consider the unsentimental, awkward truths about life. It is what we love about her fiction, and enjoy here, though with the creeping suspicion one wouldn't want to be seated next to her writer-self at a party. She cuts right through all the platitudes and gets to the uneasy, unpleasant heart of things. This little book is the opposite of Chicken Soup for the Soul-- more a micro-biopsy of the soul. She's a compulsive truth teller. Here's the essay "Digging": "There's nothing I wouldn't write about. In fact, as soon as I realize that that something has flashed through my mind that I would never put in writing, I insist on doing so..." By doing this, she has opened up the world. She digs out the truth of our blurry human lives in her fiction because she won't let go until she has found the truth and spills it. I love how precise she is, how little--unlike many another writer--she cares about ingratiating herself to the reader. It makes her a bracing writer, willing to see the weakness and pettiness in herself and others as well as the shining moments, not either/or but as part of the complexities in life. She is not looking for simple answers. Here she is in "Addictions": "I discovered that I couldn't let go of cigarettes, because I was afraid of seeing the world in all its sharp-edged clarity. Cigarettes, alcohol, cocaine are to varying degrees dark glasses and give us the impression that we can more readily tolerate the collision with life, more comfortably savour it. But is this true? That what enslaves us empowers us?" We get her wrestling with insomnia, her fears--which she more readily admits to than any other writer besides Didion--her truths about female friendship. Here's the opening of "Women Friends and Acquaintances": "I've occasionally been told by women I know that I'm a good friend. I'm pleased, and don't dare say that [note that she's saying it--that need to tell just the truths she shouldn't say] in general, I tend not to put next to the word 'friend' adjectives that refer to a hierarchy of feelings or reliability. They seem pointless to me. I would never say, for example, "she's my best friend," for I would have to deduce from it that I have friends I like less; others I don't trust so much; others with whom I feel less kinship. And if I did, it would occur to me to wonder: why do I consider myself th friend of these women? Why do I consider them my friends? The word "friend" in the presence of hierarchies of this type isn't apt. Maybe we should acknowledge that a bad friend, an unreliable friend, isn't a friend. ... but "a woman I spend time with." The problem is that it comforts us to have many friends--it makes us feel popular, loved, less alone...." It looks like absolutely the perfect gift book, short, with those beautiful illustrations--but the seriousness of these short essays and their edgy, balky quality will appeal mostly to the kind of reader who isn't looking for Chicken Soup for the Soul, but rather some kind of Windex.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I read these articles in one sitting, with the exception of pausing to brew a cup of tea because it seemed fitting. The author, translator, illustrator, and editor assembled a lovely collection for us to relish. Given the weekly challenge of answering an editor’s question, Ferrante succeeded in unpacking some of humanity’s most uncomfortable issues, offering readers commonality as they deal with the world’s eternal chaos. I greatly respect Ferrante’s insistence on literary anonymity, and I appreci I read these articles in one sitting, with the exception of pausing to brew a cup of tea because it seemed fitting. The author, translator, illustrator, and editor assembled a lovely collection for us to relish. Given the weekly challenge of answering an editor’s question, Ferrante succeeded in unpacking some of humanity’s most uncomfortable issues, offering readers commonality as they deal with the world’s eternal chaos. I greatly respect Ferrante’s insistence on literary anonymity, and I appreciate what an incredible mentor she is with her words. Her writing is smart and carefully crafted. My favorite essay was “Linguistic Nationality,” in which she refers to translators as heroes, and to translation as our salvation because “it draws us out of the well in which, entirely by chance, we are born.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nusrah Javed

    What an eloquent mind Ferrante has. She makes me feel to the very depths of my soul. This book of her tiny essays that she wrote every week for a year. I did not know such succinctness could make me feel so much. I can talk about these forever, but let me leave you with a quote from the collection. I have been thinking a lot about this quote now that I have a 10 month old who I am always filming, and living in a world in which we document everything all day long; "Occasionally, a video begins whe What an eloquent mind Ferrante has. She makes me feel to the very depths of my soul. This book of her tiny essays that she wrote every week for a year. I did not know such succinctness could make me feel so much. I can talk about these forever, but let me leave you with a quote from the collection. I have been thinking a lot about this quote now that I have a 10 month old who I am always filming, and living in a world in which we document everything all day long; "Occasionally, a video begins when the child has just stopped crying and, her features again relaxed, she is ready for play, even though one eye is still slightly veiled by tears. There is very little that documents the painful side of growing up, of childhood unhappiness and the effort of existing. If the mobile phones were allowed to do their work on that as well, what grim videos would we have? Taking shape and losing it would become an unpleasant spectacle, with horror-film moments. Living it is already arduous: imagine filming it. The result, perhaps, is that my granddaughter, when she tries to locate, in this inexhaustible flow of images, her own “I,” unhappy like all of us, will have trouble finding herself, will wonder: if that’s me, so pretty, so lively, so capable, how did I become like this? The vast documentation will be as insufficient as my single photo of a two-year-old, which only by convention I call “Me at two.” “Me” who? We’ll always know too little about ourselves."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    I am a big fan of Elena Ferrante's writing, really enjoyed her very famous Neapolitan Quartet. This latest book, Incidental Inventions is a collection of esseys/short stories written by Ferrante for Guardian. I enjoyed immensely in this little esseys about women's writing, love, sterotypes, aging, fears, poetry... Absolutely loved most of this short, unforgetable, opinionated stories, even share opinion in many issues, learned quite a bit..., great, great. Not only that, trabslation is excellent I am a big fan of Elena Ferrante's writing, really enjoyed her very famous Neapolitan Quartet. This latest book, Incidental Inventions is a collection of esseys/short stories written by Ferrante for Guardian. I enjoyed immensely in this little esseys about women's writing, love, sterotypes, aging, fears, poetry... Absolutely loved most of this short, unforgetable, opinionated stories, even share opinion in many issues, learned quite a bit..., great, great. Not only that, trabslation is excellent and the whole book is really well presented. Little pictures made by Andrea Ucini are fantastic, appropriate, couldn't be better. In my view, outstanding!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    I loved Ferrante's Neapolitan series, and plan to read my way through her back-list. This new book (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) is a collection of weekly mini essays she wrote for the Guardian over the period of one year. These short pieces give us insight into the author's ruminations on a wide variety of topics. Each piece takes less than 10 minutes to read, and I dipped in and out of this collection over a period of weeks. Each piece is accompanied by wonderful illustrations I loved Ferrante's Neapolitan series, and plan to read my way through her back-list. This new book (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) is a collection of weekly mini essays she wrote for the Guardian over the period of one year. These short pieces give us insight into the author's ruminations on a wide variety of topics. Each piece takes less than 10 minutes to read, and I dipped in and out of this collection over a period of weeks. Each piece is accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Andrea Ucini, and I spent as much time looking at the art as I did reading the text. A must read for Ferrante fans.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I can't imagine Ferrante ever writing something that would disappoint me and there is plenty here that reminded me of how good she is at exploring mundane feelings and experiences (like jealousy, or growing old) and in the process unearthing something about them that leaves you unsettled. The feeling, in a sense, that she has seen something in you that you were trying very hard to keep hidden, perhaps even from yourself, and she just slaps you with it and you remember that perhaps you are not su I can't imagine Ferrante ever writing something that would disappoint me and there is plenty here that reminded me of how good she is at exploring mundane feelings and experiences (like jealousy, or growing old) and in the process unearthing something about them that leaves you unsettled. The feeling, in a sense, that she has seen something in you that you were trying very hard to keep hidden, perhaps even from yourself, and she just slaps you with it and you remember that perhaps you are not such a good person after all, and you are far from special. That being said, I must admit that the mini-essay format is not my favourite. There is something about the paragraph-length meditation, and perhaps the rushed deadlines for weekly publication, that don't give Ferrante the space and time she needs to shine. Some of these essays bordered on trite.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I love books that challenge my view on life and these short reflections did just that. Elena Ferrante has strong opinions on many subjects, which made me rethink a lot of my own assumptions. As a writer, and a mother, I was especially interested in the pages related to those topics. Bravo to the illustrator, too, Andrea Ucini, who perfectly paired each reflection with simple but powerful illustrations. And that cover - grey for the clear-eyed, unembellished prose, red for the way each reflection I love books that challenge my view on life and these short reflections did just that. Elena Ferrante has strong opinions on many subjects, which made me rethink a lot of my own assumptions. As a writer, and a mother, I was especially interested in the pages related to those topics. Bravo to the illustrator, too, Andrea Ucini, who perfectly paired each reflection with simple but powerful illustrations. And that cover - grey for the clear-eyed, unembellished prose, red for the way each reflection came from the heart.

  11. 4 out of 5

    StaceyJEM

    I wish Ferrante had, say, half a page more to explore each topic. I'm sure the restraints were helpful for her, as well as necessary due to being articles meant to fit within a format, but still. I wanted just the littlest bit more! I wish Ferrante had, say, half a page more to explore each topic. I'm sure the restraints were helpful for her, as well as necessary due to being articles meant to fit within a format, but still. I wanted just the littlest bit more!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Spiegel

    I think this one is for the hardcore Ferrante fans, and I'm one of those--so it's good. I do find her super smart prose to have this rollicking, forward-moving quality; for some reason, I find her style weirdly hypnotic. The book is made up of weekly columns. She undertook the challenge of writing these short pieces on miscellaneous topics for one year. I like this concept a lot. So the result is actually a slim book of columns on what she thinks about stuff--which is well and good if you care. I think this one is for the hardcore Ferrante fans, and I'm one of those--so it's good. I do find her super smart prose to have this rollicking, forward-moving quality; for some reason, I find her style weirdly hypnotic. The book is made up of weekly columns. She undertook the challenge of writing these short pieces on miscellaneous topics for one year. I like this concept a lot. So the result is actually a slim book of columns on what she thinks about stuff--which is well and good if you care. It's very little showing, and almost all telling. Some columns were mildly dull. But I LOVED three of them: "The Exclamation Point," "Daughters," and "Ellipses." Here's a taste: ". . . I make an effort, at least in the artificial universe that is delineated by writing, never to exaggerate with an exclamation mark. Of all the punctuation marks, it's the one I like least. It suggests a commander's staff, a pretentious obelisk, a phallic display." I respectfully disagree with my writing goddess, however. I am firmly in Lorrie Moore's camp on the exclamation mark--and I believe Ferrante misses altogether one of their finer functions (that Moore knows all about). The exclamation mark is comic relief. It says, I know! Crazy! Ferrante talks about other forms of punctuation: "Some cautious notes on ellipses. They are pleasing. They're like stepping stones, the sort that stick out of the water and are a risky pleasure to jump on when you want to cross a stream without getting wet." Sweet. . . I guess you can tell that this isn't for everyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    The writing is as wonderful as expected but it's way too disjointed and repetitive to read all at once. Would have been great to come across these every week in The Guardian where they were originally published. The writing is as wonderful as expected but it's way too disjointed and repetitive to read all at once. Would have been great to come across these every week in The Guardian where they were originally published.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathy McC

    Such wonderful writing. Succinct prose and vocabulary. I couldn't relate to some of the essays, but I still enjoyed reading them because of Ferrante's writing style. "What we were at the beginning is only a vague patch of colour contemplated from the edge of what we have become." "We can be much more than we happen to be." "Women live amid permanent contradictions and unsustainable labours. Everything, really everything, has been codified in terms of male needs." "I love young people who fight to Such wonderful writing. Succinct prose and vocabulary. I couldn't relate to some of the essays, but I still enjoyed reading them because of Ferrante's writing style. "What we were at the beginning is only a vague patch of colour contemplated from the edge of what we have become." "We can be much more than we happen to be." "Women live amid permanent contradictions and unsustainable labours. Everything, really everything, has been codified in terms of male needs." "I love young people who fight to give their time in a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race. I hope my daughters stay that way for a long time."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rakesh Konni

    As she herself describes it, brief trickles of ink.

  16. 5 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Over the past few years Elena Ferrante has become very well known for her Neapolitan Novel Series, and for the recent television dramatization of the books, which LAPL owns: part one. Season two begins March 16 on HBO. She has written other novels which can be found here. In 2017 The Guardian Newspaper suggested that Ferrante write a weekly column. Initially she was "flattered and at the same time frightened ... afraid of the weekly deadline ... afraid of having to write even if I didn't feel li Over the past few years Elena Ferrante has become very well known for her Neapolitan Novel Series, and for the recent television dramatization of the books, which LAPL owns: part one. Season two begins March 16 on HBO. She has written other novels which can be found here. In 2017 The Guardian Newspaper suggested that Ferrante write a weekly column. Initially she was "flattered and at the same time frightened ... afraid of the weekly deadline ... afraid of having to write even if I didn't feel like it ... In the end, curiosity won out." It was not the type of writing she had done, but she was open to the proposal if the newspaper would send her a series of questions. The short, pithy and often humorous columns are arranged chronologically: January 20, 2018 - January 12, 2019. Some of the titles are enticing and provocative. In these short pieces Ferrante's perceptions about life are just as sharp, surprising and candid as they are in her novels. With deliberation and humor, she discusses "Odious Women" and why they are that way. "Is it possible, people say to me at times, that you don't know even one bitch? I know some, of course: literature is full of them and so is everyday life. But, all things considered, I'm on their side." However there is more to this essay, and it is about how women live in a world of men, and what the implications are for both men and women interacting professionally and privately. Ferrante makes all of us think about the overuse of "The Exclamation Point," in which her stand against this punctuation mark takes on political and literary significance: "But I still think that 'I hate you' has power, an emotional honesty, that 'I hate you!!!' does not ... At least in writing we should avoid acting like fanatical world leaders who threaten, bargain, make deals, and then exult when they win, fortifying their speeches with the profile of a nuclear missile at the end of every wretched sentence." Other topics analyzed are the nostalgia that some young adults have for days gone by, when there were rules to follow, and people knew their place. Ferrante responds that some of those implicit rules had racist and sexist preconceptions about others; on being pregnant, she confesses that she was " ... a terrible mother, a great mother," and had a problem adjusting to being pregnant because it took her away from her "passion for writing." However, after adapting to her situation, she found that, " ... nothing is comparable to the joy, the pleasure, of bringing another living creature into the world." Other topics are about poetry and prose; the weather; jealousy; some background information about the themes in the Neapolitan Novels. As with her fiction, there is nothing ordinary in any of her points of view, and readers will be startled and delighted with Ferrante's perspectives. One sentence exemplifies Ferrante's originality, "The future that interests me is a future of absolute openness to the other, to any living being, to everything endowed with the breath of life." For those who appreciate and love her novels, a new one is due in June 2020, The lying life of adults. Reviewed by Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abhilash

    Ferrante scores when she writes about her own writing, books or even Tarkovsky, but sometimes it's pretty shallow. I don't know if Guardian was trying to pull off a Knausgaard season series thing out of her - it hasn't worked. Ferrante scores when she writes about her own writing, books or even Tarkovsky, but sometimes it's pretty shallow. I don't know if Guardian was trying to pull off a Knausgaard season series thing out of her - it hasn't worked.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Davies

    perf reading for a time like this

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna (lion_reads)

    I love Elena Ferrante's writing and mind, deeply. Reading her work is always a very personal experience for me. She makes beautiful, astute observations about the lives of women and the lives of writers, and I always respond to them in a self-reflexive way. I think about what I would say, how I have done things in the past, and to what degree she has described a feeling correctly. I don't think I could ever detach myself as an objective observer while reading Ferrante. In fact, she is the writer I love Elena Ferrante's writing and mind, deeply. Reading her work is always a very personal experience for me. She makes beautiful, astute observations about the lives of women and the lives of writers, and I always respond to them in a self-reflexive way. I think about what I would say, how I have done things in the past, and to what degree she has described a feeling correctly. I don't think I could ever detach myself as an objective observer while reading Ferrante. In fact, she is the writer who makes me want to write and makes me want to be in constant conversation with what she has written. Even though I have heard that many people find her work slow to get into, maybe even *gasp* "boring", guys, I just cannot relate. The woman can write about grocery shopping and I have full trust that she will have something intriguing and beautiful to say. These snippets were no different. Although some of the subjects here weren't as interesting to me as others, I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading one or two at a time. The pandemic has hit my reading habits hard. My attention span is all over the place right now, but these little pieces were just perfect. I really liked the experience of finding ten to fifteen minutes of quiet to sit down and read slowly, and then lose myself in thought about whatever she has written. Maybe even jot down a post-it or two of my own reflections. Andrea Ucini's editorial illustrations are the perfect complement to these pieces. They are beautiful, but also contain a wry sense of visual humour that adds something extra to the reading. And of course, Ann Goldstein continues to spin magic with her gorgeous translation. I can't even fathom the breadth of skill one must have to translate so seamlessly. Also of note is the side of Elena Ferrante we get to see through these pieces. In so few words, you get to see more of her than in the past. You get to see her mind "of the moment" because this writing hasn't gone through the drawn-out process of writing, editing and publishing a novel. She is writing from a space where global current events are leaning into her life as much as they did for us in 2019. Here Ferrante not only touches the topics she has already written about (mothers/daughters, writing, inequality, identity, growing up), but also things like her relationship with art, movies, global warming, politics, and much more. I just found her very honest, compassionate, and introspective writer. This collection would be a great way to dip your toes into her work if you haven't yet, and get a sense of her style and sphere of interests.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Elena Ferrante is an author who makes me want to pick up a pen and start writing. How can you not be inspired and challenged by lines like the following: “What we were at the beginning is only a vague patch of colour contemplated from the edge of what we have become.” p. 14 “Even today, after a century of feminism, we can’t fully be ourselves, don’t belong to ourselves. Our defects, our cruelties, our crimes, our virtues, our pleasure, our very language are obediently inscribed in the hierarchies Elena Ferrante is an author who makes me want to pick up a pen and start writing. How can you not be inspired and challenged by lines like the following: “What we were at the beginning is only a vague patch of colour contemplated from the edge of what we have become.” p. 14 “Even today, after a century of feminism, we can’t fully be ourselves, don’t belong to ourselves. Our defects, our cruelties, our crimes, our virtues, our pleasure, our very language are obediently inscribed in the hierarchies of the male, are punished or praised according to codes that don’t really belong to us and therefore wear us out.” p. 30 The genius of Ferrante is that she’s not a writer who preaches to the choir. The truths she unearths are dug from somewhere so deep that they don’t at first feel instantly recognisable. They call to the parts of us that are so far suppressed that it takes an act of courage in itself to recognise them. What’s new about this is a level of graciousness that I can see permeates Ferrante’s thoughts, a gentleness towards others that coexists with her unflinching and uncomfortable honesty. Paradoxically (or maybe not) her anonymity allows her a freedom that allows the reader to familiarise oneself with the patterns of her thoughts and her modes of expression. It’s probably a mark of a great book when your only criticism is that you wish it had been longer. Obviously, as a selection of already-written essays this isn’t the book’s fault but so frequently I felt the topics were so engaging in their own right that I wish Ferrante had been able to continue along them. In any case, I guess this will hold me off with adequate food for thought until The Lying Life of Adults is translated next spring.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rusha

    This slim little collection is fun-size Ferrante. Here, she meditates on a wide range of subjects, from writing to motherhood to climate change. These meditations are brief but (unsurprisingly) layered, showcasing Ferrante’s characteristic ability to question everything - even herself. This capacity to broadcast and harness her own second-guessing in order to explore multiple perspectives, is a quality few writers can pull off. I have noticed however, that female essayists tend to do it very wel This slim little collection is fun-size Ferrante. Here, she meditates on a wide range of subjects, from writing to motherhood to climate change. These meditations are brief but (unsurprisingly) layered, showcasing Ferrante’s characteristic ability to question everything - even herself. This capacity to broadcast and harness her own second-guessing in order to explore multiple perspectives, is a quality few writers can pull off. I have noticed however, that female essayists tend to do it very well - almost as if self-doubt were something society had already drilled into them... Imagine that. We see this pluralism in the way that Ferrante claims repeatedly never to yearn for the ‘good old days’ or the past, but then recounts stories from her childhood with a rare lucidity. Her writing is haunted by a nostalgia for the past, and she cannot be unaware that her bestselling Neapolitan Cycle is Italian history fictionalised. Paradox abounds in this collection and - as a result - it is hard to get a read on where Ferrante really sits on any given topic. Like some kind of literary gymnast, she gleefully evades the reader’s attempts to reduce her to a single view point. And in that sense, readers hoping to uncover the real woman behind the pen name might be disappointed. She remains an enigma. But her voice is so distinctly human, so truthful and warm and friendly and shocking, that you do get the feeling upon closing the book that you have - in some sense - come to know her.

  22. 5 out of 5

    D Sen

    Devoured in a day. Accompanied by Andrea Ucini's beautiful illustrations, this collection of columns by Elena Ferrante in collaboration with The Guardian shows off her incredible skill, honesty and rawness as a writer. In music when someone can make the most mundane thing sound beautiful, we say they could sing the phonebook. This is one way to think of how Ferrante writes. Most of the columns focus on writing and literature. Her passion and depth of thought about her art is both a unique insight Devoured in a day. Accompanied by Andrea Ucini's beautiful illustrations, this collection of columns by Elena Ferrante in collaboration with The Guardian shows off her incredible skill, honesty and rawness as a writer. In music when someone can make the most mundane thing sound beautiful, we say they could sing the phonebook. This is one way to think of how Ferrante writes. Most of the columns focus on writing and literature. Her passion and depth of thought about her art is both a unique insight into one of the greatest writers of this century, but also an inspiration and a guide to any aspiring writer. The conviction of her words is enough to make the most liberal of exclamation point users never use them again, as she writes how she never uses them and why. Her views on: politics (note her views about extreme-right Italian politician Salvini which has unfortunately turned out to be a prophecy rather than a warning) , being a daughter, being a mother, plants, animals, climate change, womanhood, first times, and fears, all educate and thrill, regardless of whether you fully agree with her opinions. A unique read, as I said, essential for aspiring writers and also a great introduction to those who have not yet read her incredible novels.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dd

    I wish Elena and I were friends! You really get a true sense of who she is in this compilation of 52 brief articles that she wrote for The Guardian over the span of a year. Such a humble woman with so many intriguing ideas. She could turn each and every one of these articles into books and I have no doubt they would all be incredible. I especially like this line in the article Digging “...the skill of the writer is best displayed when what she suggests is much more than what she says.” I think th I wish Elena and I were friends! You really get a true sense of who she is in this compilation of 52 brief articles that she wrote for The Guardian over the span of a year. Such a humble woman with so many intriguing ideas. She could turn each and every one of these articles into books and I have no doubt they would all be incredible. I especially like this line in the article Digging “...the skill of the writer is best displayed when what she suggests is much more than what she says.” I think that line truly captures the essence of her writing. Brava Elena!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deniss

    I enjoyed reading these essays/articles in the Guardian a few months ago so when I saw the book was available at my library I decided to reread my favorites. I'm not sure if it's because I'm excited about the second season of My Brilliant Friend coming out soon, but I enjoyed it more than the first time. This is a very nice collection for Ferrante fans, although I'm not sure if people who haven't read the Neapolitan novels would find it interesting. I enjoyed reading these essays/articles in the Guardian a few months ago so when I saw the book was available at my library I decided to reread my favorites. I'm not sure if it's because I'm excited about the second season of My Brilliant Friend coming out soon, but I enjoyed it more than the first time. This is a very nice collection for Ferrante fans, although I'm not sure if people who haven't read the Neapolitan novels would find it interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan Batrin

    Enjoyed these texts a lot. Surprised I was not familiar with her Guardian column but all the better in this case. She really manages to transmit a lot of ideas in brief easy to read texts. It’s an amazing skill and makes for a very instructive and pleasurable read. Also the translation is really good and I love the illustrations in this little book. I was always looking at the illustrations before and after reading each article to understand the artist’s message a bit better as well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alessia

    Read in a couple of days: translation of the beautiful articles written by Elena on The Guardian, my favourite newspaper

  27. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    Please write more books, Elena!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stacey D.

    It's no wonder she's one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed reading this collection of Ferrante's recent musings called, "The Pieces," that I've chosen to close out this memorable, miserable year 2020. In weekly articles published in the Guardian throughout 2018, Ferrante brilliantly riffs on a broad range of topics that offer a remarkable glimpse into, for me, the development of her characters. I especially loved "Mothers", "The Deluge of News", her thoughts on love, a predilection for pl It's no wonder she's one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed reading this collection of Ferrante's recent musings called, "The Pieces," that I've chosen to close out this memorable, miserable year 2020. In weekly articles published in the Guardian throughout 2018, Ferrante brilliantly riffs on a broad range of topics that offer a remarkable glimpse into, for me, the development of her characters. I especially loved "Mothers", "The Deluge of News", her thoughts on love, a predilection for plants and her take on women: as authors, film directors and in general, our place in the world. Here's a quote from the highly relatable article, "This Is Me," as she comes across a photo of her younger self looking good that she decides to frame and display as a reminder of a time that was, but simultaneously, one that she hardly remembers: Had I looked like that only in the fraction of a second in which the shot was taken? Was there something wrong with the camera? Was that image an invention of the device? But then, how had I reached the point, today, of framing and displaying it? Did I want, in this phase of my life, to deceive myself, to remember myself as I had never been? Although I read this as an e-book, I was thrilled that Andrea Ucini's illustrations were included and clearly depicted. They are a wonderful accompaniment to each article.

  29. 5 out of 5

    IronMG

    This is my first Ferrante (horrible I know), and I wonder how it affected my perception of this book. Would I have loved it more through the eyes of a fan? I was really looking forward to reading it, and am still very looking forward to her prose. But the truth is, instead of savoring each page, I struggled through most of the short pieces. Ferrante is obviously a very smart and profound writer, and some of it I found very interesting and inspiring at times. The main reason I'm giving this book This is my first Ferrante (horrible I know), and I wonder how it affected my perception of this book. Would I have loved it more through the eyes of a fan? I was really looking forward to reading it, and am still very looking forward to her prose. But the truth is, instead of savoring each page, I struggled through most of the short pieces. Ferrante is obviously a very smart and profound writer, and some of it I found very interesting and inspiring at times. The main reason I'm giving this book 2 stars is that it feels like it should have stayed a newspaper column. As such, I believe I would have loved reading it week after week, getting a short and lovely break from the news and the so-called turmoils of daily life. But they're not unforgettable and do not hold a timeless essence to them, that invites to go back and re-read. And while many average column books are probably published every day, this is the average column book of a very unaverage writer. The art is amazing, and for that, I'm happy I own the book. It gives the words and ideas everything they're missing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    "On principle, I refuse to speak badly of another woman, even if she has offended me intolerably. It's a position that I feel obliged to take precisely because I'm well aware of the situation of women: it's mine, I observe it in others, and I know that there is no woman who does not make an enormous, exasperating effort to get to the end of the day. Poor or affluent, ignorant or educated, beautiful or ugly, famous or unknown, married or single, working or unemployed, with children or without, re "On principle, I refuse to speak badly of another woman, even if she has offended me intolerably. It's a position that I feel obliged to take precisely because I'm well aware of the situation of women: it's mine, I observe it in others, and I know that there is no woman who does not make an enormous, exasperating effort to get to the end of the day. Poor or affluent, ignorant or educated, beautiful or ugly, famous or unknown, married or single, working or unemployed, with children or without, rebellious or obedient, we are all deeply marked by a way of being in the world that, even when we claim it as ours, is poisoned at the root by millennia of male domination." Elena Ferrante, March 17, 2018

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