The Young Bride by Alessandro Baricco

I read Silk a couple of years ago, and to this day it remains the best book I’ve ever read. In fact, it was so good, I couldn’t finish another book for months. But I realised … and I’m doing it again: this isn’t about Silk, this is about another piece from Alessandro Baricco’s multi-room writing studio.

I’m not sure how the Young Bride escaped my radar for so long, but when I found it, it was a day of joy. It’s an odd story; a dense, literary tale about a young woman who comes to live with a family of wealthy textile merchants. She has been promised to the Son of the family’s patriarch, but on her arrival she discovers the Son has travelled to England to study manufacturing. No one is sure when he will return, so she decides to wait for him, slowly becoming indoctrinated into the strange domestic and sexual rituals of the Family. After a time though, it becomes clear that the Son is no longer in England; he left the country to travel further, and has not been heard from since. The Bride, now bewitched by the Family, and weaving an intricate web of desire of her own, must face the possibility that the Son may never return.

Yes, it’s Alessandro Baricco, so you know it’s going to be a great book, though that doesn’t mean you’re going to like everything about it. I mean, I like a good poetic read as much as the next would-be writer, but sometimes I found the prose a little dense, to the point that it sometimes got in the way of the story, and that’s a shame because it really is a great story. The characters are perfectly flawed, the setting is immaculately crafted and the pace, while measured, is pretty much what a book like this needs. But occasionally, very occasionally, the story gets lost in the poetry.

But aside from that, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read that doesn’t builds to a gentle but satisfying end.

Seven out of ten

Is Spider-man Morphing into Batman?

 

So you leave comics for a few years, come back and everything’s changed, and not necessarily for the better. I’ve been a fan of Spider-man since… well, since I was younger than he is now. In the good old days, Peter Parker bumbled through life, jobs, education, ulcers, women, other superheroes and a whole raft of unlikely villains who, truth told, should have cleaned his clock at every outing. Still, being possessed of weird powers derived from a creepy-crawly, a genius-level intellect (his own hard work, not a mutation or the after-effect of being bitten by a radioactive Stephen Hawking) was enough to dispatch enemies with fearsome names like The Rhino, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, and the somewhat less fearsome Tinkerer; there was even a super-villain called The Fly; things were never going to end well for that fella.

Yup, the good old days.

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Fast forward a few years, after the wilderness period of high literature and arty hats, and I’m back reading comics, and Spider-man has changed beyond all recognition. Well, I say ‘all recognition’, but that’s not strictly true. I do recognise him: he looks a lot like Batman.

Continue reading “Is Spider-man Morphing into Batman?”