Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brushing up on French and Italian

Andrea Camilleri
La vampa d'agosto (10 in the series)
Le alli della sfinge (11)

Montalbano - may I call you papà?

Of Comissario Montalbano, what can I say? This is comfort reading at its very best. It's murder mystery at its best and it stacks up my Italian vocab with loads of Sicilian expressions I hope I will someday have cause to use.
That chicks dig Montalbano is a given. The why is harder to ascertain - is it a boyfriend thing or a father figure thing? It might be that he's so darn smart and broody, and loyal (in a cheating kind of way). By the way, in my mind he looks NOTHING like Luca Zingaretti, the actor that portrays him in the RAI tv series.

Isabelle Eberhardt
Amours Nomades

Sometimes a female icon is just a boring broad in drag

Since she is such an icon (I didn't know of her before I got the book, though) I best tread lightly here. But this was sort of, a big disappointment.
Since Eberhardt, born in 1877 of an illegitimate relation between her Russian mother and Armenian tutor, lived a short and tragic life, converted to Islam and travelled extensively in Algeria and Tunisia, she seemed to me a sort of proto-Schwarzenbach.
Well, on page she's not. "Amours Nomades" is a series of short stories on love-gone-wrong among the natives of North Africa. Most times someone will die of consumption or take their own lives during a heat wave or a magical sunset. It gets repetitive pretty soon. And even though it sounds awful to say this, it was all a bit Harlequin-esque.
There is none of Schwarzenbach's restraint, her steely gaze sadness, her observation skills. Eberhardt's North Africa smacks of theme-park quaintness. There, I said it. I feel awful, but the book was terrible.

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