Saturday, July 21, 2018

Alessandro Baricco

Last time I posted, there was an interesting discussion which emerged around literary style. (My original post focused on the novels of Ian McEwan.) 

In that discussion, I argued that beauty alone is not a style, and that McEwan, despite his beautiful sentences, does not have much of a style. I still believe that to be true -- not least because of the novel I've just finished by the Italian writer Alessandro Baricco. 

Baricco has a clear style, and in The Young Bride he makes that known. His sentences are rambunctious and disjointed; he jumps from the first to the third person (and back); he engages in meditations on art and the creative process -- all while furthering his narrative. Reading Baricco's book was like riding on a cobbled road: there are bumps, but after a while, they give way to a certain rhythm. 

Don't be mislead: I'm not saying The Young Bride is a perfect novel: in many ways, it's quite flawed: Baricco, for one, can be quite self-indulgent. But the book does chart new territory, especially in its exploration of the bizarre. Baricco imagines a family full of quirks, and full of quirky sexual deviance. At the same time, however, there's a charming quality to that family, something about them that attracts. 

Style aside, The Young Bride is also notable for its references to theater. Baricco capitalizes the names of his central characters, for instance: the Father, the Mother, the Daughter, etc. This has the effect of establishing them as a playwright might: they interact in an artificial space devised by the author, but at the same time, they represent something real, something tangible. 

As I say, The Young Bride is not a perfect book, but on style alone, it's worthy of the attention it's garnered. I was pleased by my introduction to the world of Alessandro Baricco. 

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