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Old 04-04-2015, 07:40 PM   #1
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Silk by Alessandro Baricco

This is the MR Literary Club selection for April 2015. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time! Guests are also always welcome.


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So, what are your thoughts on it?



Last edited by sun surfer; 04-07-2015 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:33 PM   #2
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I am still reading The Master by Colm Toíbín, but I'm leaving it to read Silk now. It looks to be a great book.
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Old 04-05-2015, 09:09 PM   #3
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I shall be getting my copy from the library tomorrow. We are great believers in public holidays in Australia, and Easter Monday is a holiday, so the library is shut!
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:32 PM   #4
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I just finished it and really enjoyed it. It's a very quick and easy read.
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by desertblues View Post
I am still reading The Master by Colm Toíbín, but I'm leaving it to read Silk now. It looks to be a great book.
And I am still reading West with the Night. I am falling behind. Too many books and too little time. Such problems I have. I'll be requesting this one from my library soon.
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Old 04-08-2015, 06:51 PM   #6
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And I am still reading West with the Night. I am falling behind. Too many books and too little time. Such problems I have. I'll be requesting this one from my library soon.
I am also still with the Master, trying to catch up!
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:30 AM   #7
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I finished it and really enjoyed it. Very interesting writing style. The repetitive words made it somewhat poetical at times. I was surprised at how light the writing seemed at times (like silk) yet there was so much packed into a novella.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:58 AM   #8
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Yes, I agree. I wrote on Goodreads:
Quote:
Light and delicate as a piece of silk. Beautiful and ultimately heartbreaking.
So we both used that metaphor, as I'm sure the author was intending. The repetitions reminded me a bit of a fairy tale, and served I think to emphasise what an immense journey was being undertaken.
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Old 04-09-2015, 02:14 AM   #9
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I was wondering how they turned a novella into a full-length movie. However, after finishing it I could visualize it.
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:02 AM   #10
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I think my favourite aspects were the repetition of the voyage and the whisper of communication through actions and pauses, rather than in dialogue.

I mentioned this to Bookpossum on Goodreads, but I started the story thinking the narrative was clunky, but was completely won over. By the end, I thought it was well-crafted and beautiful.

I didn't find it heart-breaking as such, but it was certainly plucking those strings. Part of me wished it was longer, but the other considers the length perfect. A great choice.

I will probably purchase this at some stage - I'd like to read it again.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:17 PM   #11
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I like the style of writing, but somehow I get the idea there is more to this story. Therefor I will read a bit about Japan itself and its international relations in the 19 th century. This book reminds me of a beautifully wrapped present, a thing the Japanese are very good in, still.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:27 PM   #12
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I also liked the repetition of the voyage. I'm not sure I would have appreciated it nearly as much had I not interspersed my reading of Silk with a couple of chapters from The Iliad. When I returned to Silk, the cadence and repetitions felt like an echo. Had I been reading The Odyssey I wonder if the sense of déjà vu would have been even stronger.

There is a lot to think about in this short novel beyond pondering any relationship to Homer, and I'm early in the process. Hervé Joncour's obsessive attachment to a woman he doesn't even know, and who is therefore not herself in his mind, but his own fantasy, is tragic and only too human. His great passion was hopeless on so many levels. It led him to an imaginary life lived somewhere other than where Hervé Joncour's body actually resided.

Hélène appears to be a minor character until the end. But enough said about that until everyone has a chance to read Silk. Lots of good material for discussion here.

I liked this book a lot because it is clearly a parable in which the meaning, or lesson, can only be grasped by implication, through the story itself. It is likely to stay in my head until I get it all sorted. What about the poor hung boy who took Hervé Joncour to find the mistress of Hari Kai? Then there is the powerful symbolism of silkworms which I haven't got worked out yet, but surely has to do with metamorphosis.

We got it right in choosing this book for the literary book club.
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:28 PM   #13
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So I once more seem to have a differing assessment of this book . . .


This is a quote that was included in the start of the copy I checked out from my local library:

“Baricco's fairy tale of East and West weaves a fine, tight fabric of recurrent phrases and motifs, a novel as delicate and strong as its subject.”

I agree completely with labeling in as a fairy tale. Judging its content and writing style I'd say one appropriate for someone in the 8-12 years old range*. More specifically females of that age.

So not something to impress me, but for what it is I'd say its good.

*Excepting I'll grant for the sexually explicit passage in the letter. Then again I see that this was written in 1996 and I know that girls in the 10-12 age range were not at that time what they were when I was of that age.
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Old 04-13-2015, 05:48 PM   #14
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This book reminds me of a beautifully wrapped present, a thing the Japanese are very good in, still.
This sums it up for me - but maybe I started unwrapping too early
Not as radical as Hamlet, but I also found the book so-so. I was sucked in at the beginning, but the the repetitions started wearing thin for me. I read the Italian version obviously, but I saw the first three chapters on the Amazon's preview, and it looked to me a very faithful translation, so I do not think I got something in Italian that was lost in translation.
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Old 04-13-2015, 10:51 PM   #15
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Paola, have you read any other books by this author that you would recommend? Thanks!
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