Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Book talk, mas

I very well may have purchased the most beautiful book in my library. When I say beautiful I mean physically beautiful. A hardback (or “cloth” if you’re in the publishing trade) book with heavy paper stock that felt so sensuous with every page turn I was often distracted when reading. The dust jacket is made of similar thick stock and the inside flap, while telling the reader something about the story they are about to read (should they be so lucky), provides a sort of guide to thinking about the novel. Quotes from the author, insights from the publisher, it all shapes the way you read the book as opposed to just lay down some eye catching points about the story in an attempt to make it seem akin to printed television.

The book in question is The Invisible Player by Giuseppe Pontiggia. I know little of this writer or his life, but I can attest to the craftsmanship of not only the book’s physicality but its story as well. Pontiggia’s novel is an often hilarious quasi mystery set in academia, always a great place for satire. I was swept into the story effortlessly and not content until I reached the last heavy page. A mystery without a real answer but, as Pontiggia asserts, the solution to any mystery is always its weakest point. I would agree. You read a mystery and the joy is in thinking about its possible solutions. Rereading a mystery is only fun if you wish to hunt for all the clues you missed the first time around. But, lacking a definite answer, there is a vast of pleasure to be had to rereading, rethinking and reworking the mystery without an answer. I always love this sort of ambiguity. I would not be able to stomach the film Memento without it. Ambiguity gets a bad rap.

Next up… The Obscene Bird of Night by José Donoso. Yes, yes, Proust as well, assuming I get through enough of it before school starts at the end of the month.