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giovedì 1 dicembre 2011

Literary Blog Hop: The Suitcase, by Sergej Dovlatov

Literary Blog Hop The Blue Bookcase has raised an interesting question in the last Literary Blog Hop: what book(s) would we recommend to a literary-shy person? There are, of course, infinite possibilities, especially considering that we would probably recommend different books to different people, or at least I would. Anyway, here is my answer. There are broadly two kinds of people who find it hard to appreciate literature: those who innocently claim they don't like it, and those who think they do, yet are blindfolded with all sort of prejudices: they won't read books that are "too short" (as if "good" literature were a question of quantity and not quality), or written by authors that are "too young". They might as well self-righteously claim that To the Lighthouse is boring because "it has no plot". Some wonderful works of literature would unfortunately reinforce these attitudes, but some might, on the contrary, crumble them up. One of these, I think, is The suitcase by Russian émigré writer Sergej Dovlatov. He was born in Ufa in 1941 of Armenian mother and half-Jewish father. He emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1979, together with his mother. All emigrants were allowed to bring only one bag. After many years in America, Dovlatov finds a battered suitcase into his wardrobe. It is still full of stuff: a poplin shirt, a pair of boots, a stained jacket... each item triggers a chain of memories, and each chapter in the book corresponds to an object from the suitcase and its story. Dovlatov shares glimpses of his Russian life with us with his dry, irresistible humor, full of tenderness but absolutely far from sentimentalism. I would recommend this book to literature-shy friends because it is a short book, which will be good for the lazy and will at the same time show how good literature doesn't only come in thousands of pages. It is a book you read easily, and it is funny and ironic, yet exquisitely human and full of depth and subtle melancholia. It is well structured and the language is simple but bright and clever, showing with simple, detached grace what an extravagant blend of laughter and gloom life is. It's a lovely, "happy sad" book that will leave no one dissatisfied.

8 commenti:

  1. Never heard about "The suitcase". It sounds very interesting. But, you know, I like literature. And, moreover, I love reading!
    Actually, I don't find recommendations an easy task, never. I mean, to recommend is not easy to me, while I love to get recommendations from fond readers!

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  2. It's true, it's not easy to recommend books. And to ten different people, I would probably recommend ten different books, for different reasons... so it's not easy to choose one. Dovlatov is special in many ways, one is his being deep and accessible at the same time. I also like to get recommendations and to read book reviews, especially of books I've already read, to see what other readers think :)

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  3. I have never heard of the Suitcase, but it sounds very interesting, so thanks for the suggestion. Sometimes I find that people who don't like to read don't like it because they haven't done much of it. This isn't always the case, but sometimes it is just a matter of finding the type of reading that appeals to the person's interests.

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  4. Like everyone else I had never heard of The Suitcase either but it definitely sounds good after what you have said of it.

    I think when you love reading books that challenge you, it's easy to forget that not everyone has the same taste and that to some people a book without plot might be boring. So before I recommended anything I would definitely try to find out a bit about the person to make sure I wasn't just taking a stab in the dark. I wouldn't want to turn them off reading any more!

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  5. I've never heard of The Suitcase. I must look it up. I look forward to seeing your lovely blog grow.

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  6. Thank you all very much! It's true, Dovlatov is rather unknown, which is a pity. So I'll be happy if even just one person will be interested in his works through my suggestion. :)
    I'm very eager, too, to see my blog grow! :D It's a great way to share my love for reading and writing and to find interesting connections with people all around the world.
    So, thank you all very much again for your time and attention!
    Rubina

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  7. I haven't heard of this book either, but I will have to add it to my list of books to read, it sounds excellent!

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  8. Love this and already placed it on my wishlist, thanks for the introduction.

    RispondiElimina