July 20, 2010

Literary Pick (****)

The Days of Abandonment
(Elena Ferrante)




















This is a simple yet profound novel about abandonment and grief. I can tell Elena didn't write this to get a sensational reaction from her readers. I can also tell she didn't make any of it up. Knowing that Ferrante has shunned public attention and has managed to keep her real identity concealed from her readers confirms this for me.
When I heard about this story I knew I had to read it to judge it for myself. I know what pain and abandonment feels like. I knew I had to read it to be able to verify if her story is true, and now I know it is. Extremely vulgar at times but was relevant to her pain and rage. 
The character of Olga often shifted from numbing moments of temporary acceptance to an emotionally blinding yet hallucinatory state of being. Olga was ugly yet disturbingly honest.
I was unconvinced however that the love she had for her husband could suddenly die in just only 4 short months. The neglect of the children was understandable. Although repulsive, her sleeping with that neighbor of hers was also understandable, but it seemed dysfunctional and perverted.
If someone were to ask me what I enjoyed most about this story, I would have to say that it was written by an Italian person and so the emotions and reactions were of a European intensity. I don't quite know how to explain it but Olga reacted with the brutality and savagery it deserved, exactly how I think all women should react to a situation like that. Only here in America are women programmed into behaving perfectly proper after such a traumatic insulting injury. Where I come from you find where your husband is and you stab him in his sleep with no thought or conscience about anyone or anything.

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