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L'invenzione occasionale

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L'invenzione occasionale è composta da cinquantuno frammenti eterogenei di esperienze e di poetica, di intuizioni e di autobiografia. I titoli dei brevi testi modellano una mappa in movimento, definita di volta in volta dall'occhio del lettore. Attraversando soglie e frontiere diverse, rovesciando le stesse pertinenze di alto e basso, ogni tessera apre varchi tra contesti L'invenzione occasionale è composta da cinquantuno frammenti eterogenei di esperienze e di poetica, di intuizioni e di autobiografia. I titoli dei brevi testi modellano una mappa in movimento, definita di volta in volta dall'occhio del lettore. Attraversando soglie e frontiere diverse, rovesciando le stesse pertinenze di alto e basso, ogni tessera apre varchi tra contesti lontani, devia dal solco per meglio segnarne la traccia. Ed ecco che il racconto dell'insonnia porta all'urgenza di scrivere, i puntini sospensivi alla viltà, l'attrazione per un attore all'autonomia dell'opera d'arte, il trauma dei traslochi all'emancipazione delle donne, le piante alla smarginatura. La scrittura si definisce così come uno strumento paradossale, che afferma perentoriamente proprio quando sembra negare e divagare. Per incidere le apparenze dello stereotipo, per recuperare il vero occultato sotto la patina del verosimile, entra in scena un punto di vista nomade, al tempo stesso vicino e lontano dalla nostra vita quotidiana. Scavare, andare in profondità sotto questa superficie significa, in particolare, ripensare l'immaginario femminile come uno splendido graffito ancora parzialmente sepolto. Oltre il denso strato dell'immaginario neo-patriarcale, della retorica dell'emancipazione o dei buoni sentimenti: da lì si sprigiona L'invenzione occasionale.


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L'invenzione occasionale è composta da cinquantuno frammenti eterogenei di esperienze e di poetica, di intuizioni e di autobiografia. I titoli dei brevi testi modellano una mappa in movimento, definita di volta in volta dall'occhio del lettore. Attraversando soglie e frontiere diverse, rovesciando le stesse pertinenze di alto e basso, ogni tessera apre varchi tra contesti L'invenzione occasionale è composta da cinquantuno frammenti eterogenei di esperienze e di poetica, di intuizioni e di autobiografia. I titoli dei brevi testi modellano una mappa in movimento, definita di volta in volta dall'occhio del lettore. Attraversando soglie e frontiere diverse, rovesciando le stesse pertinenze di alto e basso, ogni tessera apre varchi tra contesti lontani, devia dal solco per meglio segnarne la traccia. Ed ecco che il racconto dell'insonnia porta all'urgenza di scrivere, i puntini sospensivi alla viltà, l'attrazione per un attore all'autonomia dell'opera d'arte, il trauma dei traslochi all'emancipazione delle donne, le piante alla smarginatura. La scrittura si definisce così come uno strumento paradossale, che afferma perentoriamente proprio quando sembra negare e divagare. Per incidere le apparenze dello stereotipo, per recuperare il vero occultato sotto la patina del verosimile, entra in scena un punto di vista nomade, al tempo stesso vicino e lontano dalla nostra vita quotidiana. Scavare, andare in profondità sotto questa superficie significa, in particolare, ripensare l'immaginario femminile come uno splendido graffito ancora parzialmente sepolto. Oltre il denso strato dell'immaginario neo-patriarcale, della retorica dell'emancipazione o dei buoni sentimenti: da lì si sprigiona L'invenzione occasionale.

30 review for L'invenzione occasionale

  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

    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.

  3. 5 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.”

  4. 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."

  5. 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.

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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."

  9. 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!

  10. 4 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Davies

    perf reading for a time like this

  15. 5 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    Please write more books, Elena!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alessia

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

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Nothing to write home about, but a nice read if you like Elena Ferrante .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is Elena Ferrante, answering a posed question to her weekly in The Guardian for a year. Observing the experiment itself is satisfying: a novelist who is self-aware of a sort of 'exhaustive realism' tendency adopting the terse medium of a column. Not just that, but right out of the gate, the book is a scant 112 pages and accompanied by some elegant and delightful illustrations that it's such an adorable treat for either perusal or browsing. It can be a coffee table book, or, for a Ferrante o This is Elena Ferrante, answering a posed question to her weekly in The Guardian for a year. Observing the experiment itself is satisfying: a novelist who is self-aware of a sort of 'exhaustive realism' tendency adopting the terse medium of a column. Not just that, but right out of the gate, the book is a scant 112 pages and accompanied by some elegant and delightful illustrations that it's such an adorable treat for either perusal or browsing. It can be a coffee table book, or, for a Ferrante obsessive, downed in one sitting. As is always the case with weekly installment franchises, some hit bigger than others. This is probably the only factor of the review where the star rating comes into play. I do feel that this is due to just a personal resonance to certain topics over those, but I also feel this is a universal concern among any reader approaching this format. Some nitpicks: in an earlier installment, Ferrante says she yearns to look "beyond all borders, especially of gender" and (26) and then becomes accidentally noninclusive of trans men when proclaiming "[m]en have always been jealous of that experience which is ours alone, and often dreamed - in myths, in certain rites - of forms of male pregnancy" (28). Yes, trans men can be pregnant, and yes, trans men are men. It's possible to interpret her words as what men assumed to be "their experience alone" at the historical time of all of this myth-making, but nevertheless I find this an example of how the medium, and how one writes for it, causes for a certain broadening of an issue and in this case an accidental fragmentation of a point of view. I'm not paranoid enough to label it trans-exclusionary so much as she was speaking of her political values in one article and to a deep maternal instinct in the other. Still, though, it's a nitpick. Aside from that, I don't think her rule of forcing oral communication to finish, as outlined in "Ellipses," is always representative to the female experience of being incessantly interrupted, and of, in many realistic circumstances, being unable to finish a sentence they started. She writes, "if you take on the responsibility of starting a sentence, you should bring it to an end - even if you're being shouted at, even if you're being insulted, and you regret that you started to speak, and you flounder, lose confidence, the words no longer come to you" (60). Ferrante's commitment to authenticity, I felt, was undercut by this eccentric attitude toward an ellipsis. I would also disagree with Ferrante: I strongly recommend anyone who started a sentence who was then notified by a lawyer to not say a word more to the police...well, I say hold your tongue. But more importantly, this is not a rule about observing her own past honestly, but more about an imposition of a value system - namely, of the perils of leaving things suspended in life - that informs how she writes but also by extension how her characters are. It just felt out of sync to me personally with her commitment to the absence of such limitations in reality. But more importantly, there are oodles of great nuggets here: an adorable and still provocative tribute to Daniel Day-Lewis ("Works of Art"); Ferrante's contempt for the New Testament God as well as her resonance with Mary's trembling ("Trembling"); a succinct summation of privilege alongside achievement ("Winners and Losers"); coping with being over-informed ("The Deluge of News"); her attitude about creative control ("Creative Freedom"; "The Book and the Film"); and ones that just hit me hard ("Confessing," "Clean Breaks," "No Reason" (about enemies), and the all-around mic drop "The Female Version"). This book is one that can be dipped back onto for no particular reason, like a book of quotes or inspirational tidbits from Mister Rogers or the Dalai Lama, except it's the sassy queen who penned the Neapolitan Quartet. Obviously, that's worth the time and money.

  21. 4 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    A year-long collection of weekly columns in the Guardian written by the author of the Neapolitan Quartet. Nonfiction Review: Incidental Inventions is a book I was certain to read because I must devour everything Elena Ferrante writes. Had to read even though this wasn't fiction but a series of short essays on a variety of prompts suggested by the editors of the Guardian. Wonderfully, they're written by the same voice that wrote the fiction. The essays mostly fall into two categories: glimpses of A year-long collection of weekly columns in the Guardian written by the author of the Neapolitan Quartet. Nonfiction Review: Incidental Inventions is a book I was certain to read because I must devour everything Elena Ferrante writes. Had to read even though this wasn't fiction but a series of short essays on a variety of prompts suggested by the editors of the Guardian. Wonderfully, they're written by the same voice that wrote the fiction. The essays mostly fall into two categories: glimpses of her life that often show parallels to the novels, and her thoughts on a host of significant contemporary issues. Included in the latter is her consistent dedication to daily and practical feminism. Despite her protestations as to the necessity of anonymity to her writing, for those interested these columns provide a great deal of biography and many hints as to where the books originated. Some of these brief rambles fill out ideas from the stories and readers who subscribe to the cult of personality will find many insights into the person who wrote the novels. There are numerous references to childhood, family, and her own life story. All enriched by the illustrations. There are also purely personal confessions. In Incidental Inventions we learn that Ferrante suffers from insomnia, is afraid of snakes, has trouble digesting pizza, that she was once a heavy smoker, that as a child she "was a big liar." All of which (except the last) are completely irrelevant to our reading of her books. Incidental Inventions also contains her illuminating perceptions and understanding of a variety of matters important to conversations in today's world. These subjects are subtly expressed in the novels and elaborated on and enunciated in Frantumaglia. Even in these brief essays she's always discerning, enlightening. There is much to treasure seeing her mind at work. She lives life consciously, analytically. These essays appealed to me more than the personal information as I love to see her mind work. I respect Ferrante's position that we only need to know the author through her creations, which is why when she's spilling about her own life it seems contradictory. I don't need to know those things. What does interest me is when she's expressing her opinions. I enjoy seeing a strong, intelligent mind at work, with enough common sense to bring it all down to earth. Her many comments here on literature and writing constitute a graduate seminar on the subject: "All literature, great or small, is ... contemporary." I may not always agree (my exclamation points are not as phallic as hers), but I relish and value what she has to say. The Italian view of things is all too rare in the world. I only wish an American newspaper was cool enough to publish her column as was the Guardian. I also wonder just how much controversy these columns stirred up with her thoughts on affirmative action and the relationship (mostly hetero) between the sexes. She notes that she refuses to speak badly of other women, even those she dislikes, because she knows the trials all women endure. There was no mention in Incidental Inventions of her outing by an Italian journalist or whether she'd publish again. After the outing and given her feelings about anonymity, I was afraid that she might not write again, but I've just learned that The Lying Life of Adults will be released in English in June of 2020 (the Italian edition was published in November 2019). Until then, in this short book there is a seemingly limitless wealth of epigrams to spur and provoke. And for someone who has spent many pages with Elena Ferrante, even the personal information in Incidental Inventions was as enjoyable as news from an old friend. [3½★]

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    This latest collection of Elena Ferrante nonfiction is from a series of columns she wrote (and Ann Goldstein translated) for The Guardian in 2018 and 2019. If you didn’t happen to read the opening introduction from the collection explaining that these are ponderings of specific questions and not pitched essay topics by Ferrante they would seem trite and unimportant. And sometimes they do seem trite and unimportant. But hidden within these are some really interesting ideas about language, fame, w This latest collection of Elena Ferrante nonfiction is from a series of columns she wrote (and Ann Goldstein translated) for The Guardian in 2018 and 2019. If you didn’t happen to read the opening introduction from the collection explaining that these are ponderings of specific questions and not pitched essay topics by Ferrante they would seem trite and unimportant. And sometimes they do seem trite and unimportant. But hidden within these are some really interesting ideas about language, fame, women, and other topics of interest. It’s almost like Elena Ferrante needed dozens of essays in order to write a few very good ones. The format is very similar to other collected blogging texts, where the import of the total project is probably better than any one given essay, but that the total still suffers from a lack of editorial oversight and good sense. There’s an essay in the collection where Ferrante describes advice on writing this way: “If you feel the need to write, you absolutely should write. Don’t trust those who say: I’m telling you for your own good, don’t waste time on that. The art of discouraging with kind words is among the most widely practised. Nor should you believe those who say: you’re young, you lack experience, wait. We shouldn’t put off writing until we’ve lived enough, read sufficiently, have a desk of our own in a room of our own with a garden overlooking the sea, have been through intense experiences, live in a stimulating city, retreat to a mountain hut, have had children, have travelled extensively. Publishing, yes: that can certainly be put off; in fact, one can decide not to publish at all. But writing should in no case be postponed to an “after”.” But in the same collection she brilliantly discusses how rarely male writers credit the influences of women on their own writing (not necessarily that they don’t praise them — although that’s less common than true — but credit them in teaching them).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    A well-written collection with beautiful illustrations that enhance the text. I read the Neapolitan novels, but other than that, I didn't know much about Ferrante before picking up this book. Her columns touch on ideas present in her novels with more clarity-ice cold clarity, really. Ferrante's self-professed desire to express truth in her writing leads to prose that came across to me as quite cynical at times. Actually, her writing in a way reminded me of the writings of John Updike, a writer w A well-written collection with beautiful illustrations that enhance the text. I read the Neapolitan novels, but other than that, I didn't know much about Ferrante before picking up this book. Her columns touch on ideas present in her novels with more clarity-ice cold clarity, really. Ferrante's self-professed desire to express truth in her writing leads to prose that came across to me as quite cynical at times. Actually, her writing in a way reminded me of the writings of John Updike, a writer whose talent I can appreciate, but who also expressed himself in a ruthlessly honest manner. I always perceived misogyny in the works I've read from Updike, and conversely in Ferrante's essays there is a real hatred for men that I found frustrating. Ironically, the fact that the word 'misogyny' readily comes to mind to describe a hatred of women and no equivalent word comes to my mind to describe a hatred of men may support Ferrante's point about how men have controlled how we view the world and perhaps the language we use to describe it. Oh well, I never said that there wasn't any truth in some of Ferrante's claims about men, just that I was frustrated by them. Overall, an interesting read, and again, I loved the illustrations.

  24. 4 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Elena Ferrante (pseudonym) is one of those names I'd give if someone asked that question-who would you want to invite to a dinner party? She's on there for me, along with Gloria Steinem. (Not that anyone's asking.) This is a delightful and quick read, of a year of thoughts from Ms. Ferrante that were published weekly in the Guardian in 2018. Ms. Ferrante is an Italian author who may be best known for her series of books called The Neapolitan quartet. She has other novels as well, and supposedly M Elena Ferrante (pseudonym) is one of those names I'd give if someone asked that question-who would you want to invite to a dinner party? She's on there for me, along with Gloria Steinem. (Not that anyone's asking.) This is a delightful and quick read, of a year of thoughts from Ms. Ferrante that were published weekly in the Guardian in 2018. Ms. Ferrante is an Italian author who may be best known for her series of books called The Neapolitan quartet. She has other novels as well, and supposedly Maggie Gyllenhaal is making a movie based on one of the Neapolitan books. HBO is about to air the 2nd series of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the four novels. While I read the book on Hoopla, I would love to have my own hard copy. Not every weekly column wowed me, but many of them did. I found so many things that had me thinking in a different way, some that had me laughing about myself and my punctuation, some where I completely agreed and others that had me laughing or nodding along.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jill Blevins

    As a collection of Guardian columns, this is nothing rollicking or mesmerizing. It’s just thoughts in short bites, exactly what you want to read while waiting at the dentist’s office or in bed after a long day. Not being a writer, the subjects weren’t that applicable to anything I could relate to but I guess if you imagine yourself as a writer, you could put yourself in her shoes and enjoy thinking these semi-writerly thoughts. I didn’t think it was anything I’d remember in six months. In fact, I As a collection of Guardian columns, this is nothing rollicking or mesmerizing. It’s just thoughts in short bites, exactly what you want to read while waiting at the dentist’s office or in bed after a long day. Not being a writer, the subjects weren’t that applicable to anything I could relate to but I guess if you imagine yourself as a writer, you could put yourself in her shoes and enjoy thinking these semi-writerly thoughts. I didn’t think it was anything I’d remember in six months. In fact, I’m having a hard time remembering anything interesting even now. Some books are like that - like a nice afternoon with a friend - nice, pleasant, a perfect way to spend the afternoon, but not a lot of PhD-level world-fixing/problem solving/deep thought. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, who is so famous for her brilliant style and glorious glittery words that I thought I’d be blown away. I was not. But again, for a collection of essays from the Guardian, it was, um, nice.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kerstin Daynes

    I really enjoyed this book. It is a bit of work to get through, meaning it isn’t a snuggly book to cuddle up with and read cover to cover because you can’t put it down. But, it is a book that made me say “Hmmmm...that is interesting. I never thought of it that way” or to see that someone else shares similar feelings about everyday things such as education or the smell of rain. I think some of my favorite entries were where Ferrante talks about writing and language. I did find our opinions quite I really enjoyed this book. It is a bit of work to get through, meaning it isn’t a snuggly book to cuddle up with and read cover to cover because you can’t put it down. But, it is a book that made me say “Hmmmm...that is interesting. I never thought of it that way” or to see that someone else shares similar feelings about everyday things such as education or the smell of rain. I think some of my favorite entries were where Ferrante talks about writing and language. I did find our opinions quite different on probably a majority of the topics, and sometimes felt like Ferrante was a bit arrogant about her opinion, but I found myself feeling great respect for her perspective and was happy to have my eyes opened to some new ideas and ways of thinking. And, the most charming was the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter by Andrea Ucini. They were so much fun to look at and added a fun dimension to each essay.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This book of short essays by author Elena Ferrante is a collection of her columns published each week by the Guardian newspaper. Since we do not know for sure who the mysterious woman is behind the name "Elena Ferrante", these mini-essays give us additional insight into the enigmatic writer's mind. Most are interesting and, like her novels, she always finds surprisingly fresh ways to look at common things, events and relationships. Due to the format in which they were published they are by neces This book of short essays by author Elena Ferrante is a collection of her columns published each week by the Guardian newspaper. Since we do not know for sure who the mysterious woman is behind the name "Elena Ferrante", these mini-essays give us additional insight into the enigmatic writer's mind. Most are interesting and, like her novels, she always finds surprisingly fresh ways to look at common things, events and relationships. Due to the format in which they were published they are by necessity short, quick and easy to read. My only wish is that, instead of publishing in book form what had already been published in weekly installments, Ferrante would have revisited some of these topics and expanded her thoughts on them. I was really intrigued by what she had to say about most of these subjects, only to have her train of thought end after a two pages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ella

    I don't want to return this to the library, despite knowing there are other people waiting to read it. Even though I'd read many of these essays in the Guardian, this book is just lovely. Full of surprising and interesting takes on subjects we usually don't get to hear about so directly from Elena Ferrante. What a great project this was. I'm sure she's glad it's over, but I'm not. There is too much in this one to "review" the book in any realistic way. It's a bit like a huge box of chocolates, be I don't want to return this to the library, despite knowing there are other people waiting to read it. Even though I'd read many of these essays in the Guardian, this book is just lovely. Full of surprising and interesting takes on subjects we usually don't get to hear about so directly from Elena Ferrante. What a great project this was. I'm sure she's glad it's over, but I'm not. There is too much in this one to "review" the book in any realistic way. It's a bit like a huge box of chocolates, best taken bit by bit, and also it's hard to do that. The book itself is beautiful. That picture on the front is just one of many, and they are all terrific. Elena Ferrante is always interesting, whether I agree with her take on something or not. We've been a bit spoiled having her columns, and this would be a nice book to own, but I'll drop mine off at the library in a couple of days.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    This is a collection of 52 columns that Ferrante wrote for the Guardian over the course of a year. I mostly enjoyed these 52 amuse bouches, and a few really excited me. "Happy Childhoods" was an interesting take on the downside of only capturing a child's happy moments in photos and videos, and "Love Forever" was an enjoyable read on the challenges of marriage. All in all, this book did a great job giving me more Ferrante while I anxiously await her next novel, The Lying Life of Adults coming in This is a collection of 52 columns that Ferrante wrote for the Guardian over the course of a year. I mostly enjoyed these 52 amuse bouches, and a few really excited me. "Happy Childhoods" was an interesting take on the downside of only capturing a child's happy moments in photos and videos, and "Love Forever" was an enjoyable read on the challenges of marriage. All in all, this book did a great job giving me more Ferrante while I anxiously await her next novel, The Lying Life of Adults coming in June of 2020. I also thought the illustrations for each column by Andrea Ucini were very well done. This is the first hardcover I have purchased from Europa, and as with their paperbacks, I am blown away by the quality of their books.

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