This book made me weep. It was powerful, witty, profound and personal, and beautifully translated by Alison Anderson. The protagonists are a secretly cultural cat-lady concierge and a suicidal pre-teen genius who lives in her building. They both ponder what the point of it all is in their separate, but interconnected worlds. I think this book deserves to speak for itself, so the rest of this post is a collection of my favourite passages.
“Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain Beauty. When you speak, or read, or write, you can tell if you’ve spoken or read or written a fine sentence. You can recognise a well-tuned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are applying the rules of grammar skilfully, you ascend to another level of the beauty of language. When you use grammar you peel back the layers, to see how it is all put together, to see it quite naked, in a way.”
“When something is bothering me, I seek refuge. No need to travel far; a trip to the realm of literary memory will suffice. For where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature?”
“Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
“I have finally concluded, maybe that’s what life is about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It’s as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within never. Yes, that’s it, an always within never.”
“There’s so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature.”
Have you read it? What did you think?