Europe, anywhere…

I can’t deny that I feel disenchanted and disappointed by political events of our time. That Europe drifts further away from me when I want it closer than ever before. I think I’m turning in to a lover of Italy to begin with – I have spent a good few months reading Italian novels, history, learning the language, watching films. I can feel the sunshine and warmth sometimes. Italy is close to my heritage in many ways and has been here throughout my life, influencing, quietly.

Then there’s Greece. My local library is being kept busy as my reserves keep coming. I have learnt that the books I want tend to be kept at two other libraries in the riding. That’s quite interesting to note.

On availability of books and films, you would think access wasn’t an issue, but sadly I am finding it more and more difficult to get hold of many non-English language films and even harder to get hold of books. There is a distinct change in the air in our cultural world. But I will be keeping the doors open to my mind and will not be swayed by populism and the ¬†global companies who keep our archives and catalogues narrow. There is a counter-productive element to globalisation ¬†– more sometimes means less.

Oh, I forgot Ireland – definitely deserving of a literary visit!

I live in a part of the UK where diversity is significant to its history and its existence. We are here for a reason, embedded and new. The time when people wanted to send everyone ‘back’ has been here before, a time when some were seen as undesirable, too successful.

Keep the doors open, keep your mind open and above all, don’t let your heart shrivel up. There’s plenty of good stuff to be reading as the world evolves this way and that.

To thine own self be true.



Summer reading – Ferrante

I think I have found my summer reading as long as the library can supply me with the books.

Just finished the first Napoli novel My Brilliant Friend. I enjoyed Ferrante’s storytelling style through the eyes of Lenu, her passages of narrative interspersed with just enough conversation. I now know the neighbourhood, the characters. The friendship with Lila is familiar as is the community way of being.

It is beautifully translated. Not a single blip! On to the next one soon. The collection is very popular and reservation numbers are high as we all jostle for the books.

I believe an adaptation for screen is coming.


Be like no other

As I was growing up, there was one thing my mother said to me repeatedly: Don’t be a sheep. Don’t be like everyone else. I think this stemmed mostly from her fear of my getting in with the wrong crowd and being scared of a liberal British society where it seemed to her, anything goes.

Lucky for her, that I was a precocious little goody-two-shoes who rarely strayed in to unknown waters. I too feared that liberal world. Observation was more my thing. Reading was too. But I’ve talked about the library and post office previously and their influences on me. The two Tolstoy novels in the house in Serbian and so on.

We live in precarious times during which many things are thrown at us through imagery, film, words – the media in general. Again, my mother would announce: Phantasmagoria! Propaganda! What to believe in all this information available to us. What is kept from us.

As for books. Follow your intuition I say. Just because something is up for a prize, recommended by a national paper, reviewed on a radio programme, doesn’t mean it’s for you. Do your own research. Find what you like. Read what you want. Sometimes you have to go to the ends of the earth for it. I do, especially for international literature – whether it’s in English or its mother tongue. Sift through the rubbish heap of information and source the one thing that speaks to you, that is true to you.