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Book 11 Completed

February 6, 2010

I am sitting at my parent’s beach house — my home away from home. There is something about the beach that makes me want to hibernate and just read and write the entire time. Matt and I are lucky enough to come down here between six-ten times a year; this time we are here to celebrate his sister’s 23rd birthday. (I’m trying to fit in an Attie plug here…because according to my blog stats people want to know less about books and more about Attie.)

So, I just finished Ismail Kadare’s Spring Flowers, Spring Frost.  Again, I picked an experimental novel. And this one also deals with the aftermath of communism.  But unlike Mati Unt, this book was readable. Kadare isn’t easy reading — but I found myself fully engaged in this book and all its oddities. Unt = thinking cacti. Kadare = thinking icebergs (specifically the one that sank the Titanic). Unt = Bizarre stream of consciousness. Kadare = Beautiful, lyrical, well-crafted imagery.

I suppose what makes me drawn to this book is that the subject matter was pretty interesting. And even when the book meandered away into its “counter-chapters”, I felt like I understood how everything was connected. The story of the girl who marries a snake is actually quite touching.  The blood-feuds reemerging after the fall of Communism is fascinating — the idea of the Kanun resurfacing in Albania kept me interested and I wanted to know more. Again, we are dealing with a country that was occupied, ripped apart, then left to pick up the pieces.  When you read the book with this in mind, you realize how much these countries are defined by pre/during/post communism. Ultimately, at the end of the book, I felt connected to this surreal version of Albania.

I didn’t love this book, but I think I love Kadare’s writing. Maybe I was just sick of disliking everything and decided to really give this one a chance. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty happy I found Kadare and will be absolutely reading more of him in the future.

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