DAYS OF ABANDONMENT by elena ferrante


i let three trains pass on the platform so i could finish it. POV of a scorned bourgeoise. horror episodes of her total fury in sentences that sear and become beautiful. other times: accurate, intimate and desolate portraits of a broken self. a carefully balanced, patient plot that’s worth battling through its accurate depiction of thick monotonous depression. but despite its extreme emotions, not manipulative or fantastic. in those contemporary fictions with similarly traditional ambitions, ferrante’s hard-won poise and bitter realism are only palely reflected.

here’s a bit:

I was like a lump of food that my children chewed without stopping; a cud made of a living material that continually amalgamated and softened its living substance to allow two greedy bloodsuckers to nourish themselves, leaving on me the odor and taste of their gastric juices. Nursing, how repulsive, an animal function. And then the warm sweetish odor of baby-food breath. No matter how much I washed, that stink of motherhood remained. Sometimes Mario pasted himself against me, took me, holding me as I nearly slept, tired himself after work, without emotions. He did it persisting on my almost absent flesh that tasted of milk, cookies, cereal, with a desperation of his own that overlapped mine without his realizing it. I was the body of incest, I thought… I was the mother to be violated, not a lover. Already he was searching elsewhere for figures more suitable for love, fleeing the sense of guilt, and he became melancholy, sighed. Carla had happened then into the house at the right moment, a figment of unsatisfied desire. She was then thirteen years older than Ilaria, ten more than Gianni… Mario must have imagined her as the future, and yet he desired the past, the girlhood that I had already given him and that he now felt nostalgia for. She herself perhaps believed she was giving him the future and had encourage him to believe it. But we were all confused, especially me. While I was taking care of the children, I was expecting from Mario a moment that never arrived, the moment when I would be again as I had been before my pregnancies, young, slender, energetic, shamelessly certain I could make of myself a memorable person. No, I thought, squeezing the rag and struggling to get up: starting at a certain point, the future is only a need to live in the past. To immediately redo the grammatical tenses (91-2) .

pick it up from your local independent bookstore or your local library.

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