Review: Alessandro Baricco’s “City”

by writereaderly

alessandro baricco cityThis is an outgoing Xmas gift which as rebounded as a loan, and it was a delirious, largely unsignposted journey. Basic semblance of plot: Shatzy Shell, quirky-nuts young woman who reminds me of the heroine of Ali Smith’s The Accidental, becomes the governess of adolescent genius Gould, whose only friends are Poomerang (mute and bald) and Diesel (a giant). I *think* the book was about conflict and choice and passivity and participation in life, but I’d prefer you don’t quote me on that. It’s also about football (soccer) refereeing, boxing, mental illness, and other random factors such as curves and Monet’s waterlilies. It swoops and dives between characters and scenes and voices, and is kind of absorbing and disorienting at the same time. Oh, and I’m sure I read the climactic Western scene — it’s also about Westerns, btw — before, perhaps in a Granta, perhaps I’d already read this and forgotten…? A good read, but you need to either really have your wits about you or be willing to not understand a great deal. More hallucinogenic than Ocean Sea, which I loveloveloved. Recommended.

Where it came from: KS’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Insomniac, bed and armchair reads, with bewildered attention
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that: Very strongly of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
Who I’d recommend it to:
Seekers of fiction that’s happy to be outside the square
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley