All posts tagged: Elena Ferrante

magnolia stellata | edge of evening

draft folder

September 2016 The idea is that by right living I might come to right feeling. Therefore: run three times a week even in the freezing cold, go to sleep by 10PM, write 500 words of prose a day six days a week, eat well, listen when the children are speaking, have sex with husband, etc.Mothers by Rachel Zucker November 2016 Hi. I feel shy. I just forgot my wordpress password, moments after my fingers hesitated over typing edgeofevening. I do think of you. Often actually, especially when I’m cooking & so writing anything down is especially inconvenient. I compose whole blog posts in my head. An alternative way of looking at this is that often, when I’m cooking, I talk to myself in blog posts. Anyway. Here we are: Thursday night & it’s already getting late & everything I wanted to say has vanished. This morning there was a frost & the rose leaves were edged in white, the last buds still closed. Today, Pops & I have written the invitations to his fourth birthday party. Big(ger) children have worked hard …

Hot Milk & Eileen | edge of evening

The female body: Eileen & Hot Milk

It’s up to you to break the old circuits.Hélène Cixous, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, epigraph to ‘Hot Milk’ by Deborah Levy So often with reading, it’s all about the connections. The secret conversations between one book and the next. And, blue covers & Booker shortlist connection aside, the two books I ended last year with had a lot to talk to one another about. Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen and Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk could stay up all night talking about mothers (alive and dead), fathers (alcoholic and abandoning), alienation, boldness, sexuality, and the female body. They’re also both compulsively readable novels. I came to Ottessa Moshfegh through her short stories which are fearless and physical and altogether unlike anything else. I highly recommend ‘Bettering Myself’ in the Paris Review (subscription or free trial needed to read the whole story). Eileen is set over a few days before Christmas in 1964 and narrated by a much older Eileen looking back on her twenty-four year old self and what turned out to be her last few days in X-ville, the …

all the books | edge of evening

All the books

Ten years ago this September, we went on holiday to the south of France. We were staying in a remote barn about an hour from Carcassonne. We got lost on the way, famously going the ‘wrong’ way — or at least the long way — round a mountain, on a road so narrow we couldn’t turn back. When we finally reached the road the property was closest to, we bumped up a steep and twisting 2km unpaved track in our rental car. Parked outside the stone barn there was an ancient yellow Citroën 2CV which looked like it might never make it back down the track. The barn was owned by an actor who lived in Barcelona & she’d furnished its open-plan room simply but perfectly: a low double bed, two desks each beneath its own window, a small sofa and armchair in the middle of the room, & a kitchen in one corner. There was a woodburner in the centre of the room & the September evenings in the mountains were cool enough for us to use …

Her Thirty-Seventh Year by Suzanne Scanlon | edge of evening

Her 37th Year: An Index

HAMLET (see also: Baby, The), We watch three film versions of Hamlet. I cry even when it is Bill Murray playing Polonius. I imagine my baby as Laertes. “Do you know how it is when someone dies? Birth is like that, too, just in reverse,” I say. Just before you announce the impending awkwardness, I ask aloud, “How could I have created something, someone, whom I will someday lose?” I think, How could life mean anything more, ever, ever again? . JOY (see also: Mother, Question, and Skunks), as experienced when in a dark room I lie next to Magoo and his cousin. Every so often, just when I think they might be asleep, a high voice with a serious question: “Are there skunks in Pittsburgh?” or “Do old-fashioned cars go faster than convertibles?” Four-year old musing & inquiry; for a moment I wish that Magoo would be four years old forever, that I might spend a life in this room with two four year old boys. There are times it feels like Heaven to …

Delve truthfully into the darkest depth

The point is what we tell ourselves about motherhood and child-rearing. If we keep talking about it in an idyllic way, like in many handbooks on motherhood, we will continue to feel alone and guilty when we brush up against the frustrating aspects of being a mother. The task of a woman writer today is not to stop at the pleasures of the pregnant body, of birth, of bringing up children, but to delve truthfully into the darkest depth.Elena Ferrante interviewed in the Financial Times, 11 December 2015 I read the new interview with Elena Ferrante the day after I finished her first novel, Troubling Love. And within it I found the answer to something that had puzzled me about her Neapolitan tetralogy, namely, how I can love her writing so passionately at the level of feeling and yet find little to admire at the sentence-level. This, I think, is the answer, A page is well written when the labour and pleasure of truthful narration supplant any other concern, including a concern with formal elegance. I belong to …

The Story of the Lost Child

There are moments when what exists on the edges of our lives, and which, it seems, will be in the background forever — an empire, a political party, a faith, a monument, but also simply the people who are part of our daily existence — collapses in an utterly unexpected way, and right when countless other things are pressing upon us.The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante I spent six happy days torn between my inability to put down the final book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet and my desire for it to never come to an end. I think that this was probably exactly what Ferrante was trying to do to me. I employ all the strategies I know to capture the reader’s attention, stimulate curiosity, make the page as dense as possible and as easy as possible to turn. But once I have the reader’s attention I feel it is my right to pull it in whichever direction I choose. I don’t think the reader should be indulged as a consumer, because …

The Neapolitan Novels

I’m a storyteller. I’ve always been more interested in storytelling than in writing. Even today, Italy has a weak narrative tradition. Beautiful, magnificent, very carefully crafted pages abound, but not the flow of storytelling that despite its density manages to sweep you away. Elena Ferrante interviewed by her Italian publisher, New York Times, December 2014 It’s about four weeks since I finished my Ferrante-thon. It started on a sofa in Paris and from the first I was captivated. I needed to know — in a way that now strikes me as increasingly rare in my reading — what happened next. I was drawn into the world of Lenù and Lila, the world of the neighbourhood in Naples where they spend their childhood, into the increasingly complexities of their lives, and I never wanted to leave. And so when Jia Tolentino writes that Ferrante is ‘equally pulpy and brilliant’, I’m reminded of my own observation that there is something almost soap-opera-like about the Neapolitan novels, and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. My reading …

Prosaic, with possibilities

The older children are back at school. Possibility quickly collapses into the usual rhythm of school days, swimming lessons, reading-books, and packed lunches. The Moose has once more declared himself a vegetarian. ‘Where do carrots come from?’ he asks me suspiciously and I try to remind him of the summer we grew them in a window box by the back door. T has given out her birthday party invitations and soon it will be time to hang out the bunting. For the first time she is maintaining the list of invitees and acceptances herself, carefully ticking friends off in the notebook she picked out in a French supermarket. I’m trying to feel my way back into everything. I seem to be reading far too many books at once. Currently in progress: The Story of a New Name, the second of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan cycle, which I’m reading hungrily ever minute I can; Renata Adler’s Speedboat, paused while I gulp my way through the Ferrante; Tinkers by Paul Harding, also paused at almost the mid-point and …