In my country (Italy) we have a special quote to say that friends are precious: “Who finds a friend, finds a treasure”. In fact the truth is: a real friend is so rare, something you don’t happen to meet just crossing the street. As in the treasure’s Island. But here, in real life, nobody gives you a damn map to find the right way to find them!
Please, note that I’m not talking about chatting more or less on social networks, meeting for a coffee or having happy hours together… In fact, I’m talking about true friendship: sharing emotions, intimate experiences, personal opinions (even on family or political issues), something that in legal words is defined as “very personal data”, and for that, something to be protected with a particular caution.
I have plenty of friends. Nonetheless, only few of them are really so close to me to be counted as “best friends”. To be honest: no more than two or three …
But with reading is different… when you read a good novel it happens that you feel such in love for the characters you meet that you really have the feeling of knowing them personally, something like as you’ve already shared with them a piece of your life, as going shopping, having breakfast together, watching your favorite movies in their company ….
Or… if not exactly with those characters, at least with their real “alter ego” (as a sort of living Avatar?) who are the official Directors of all this magical, wonderful fiction that catches you as a second, parallel life….for all the time the novel lasts.
Which is an authentic funeral, a feeling of lost, an empty space leaved behind you, something you have to deal with: the ending of a novel you deeply were involved with.
You really feel lost. Because you have no more the way to meet again your mates….
There is only a solution: beginning immediately another novel of the same, beloved author…
That’s how I became an authentic “serial reader”. A fanatic, tireless, constant and faithful follower of all the exits of the same author, whose first novel I read was a sort of love at first sight…Honestly: it’s not that I’m monogamous. It’s more like that I elected a handful of my “virtual- “ best friends with whom I would like to share my precious free time. And than I follow them for every journey they ‘d like to take me. Even with eyes blindfolded. Because I’ m pretty much sure that they won’t disappoint me. In fact: I must say that I always, really trust them.
And, at this point, you may guess whom exactly I trust? Of course… I’m speaking about my four best friends writers. Each one very distant to others, for culture, nationality, years, tastes, style, topics and gender of works. So that: if you ever may happen to meet them together (which I think is pretty much impossible) you would never say that they are a sort of “Sex and the City” gathering ….
But, go on: let me tell you about my special friendship with each one of them…
(First friend: Isabel)
I will begin from the first one, the one who I already discovered soon in my life as only a teenager. Those time I was really a strong reader. As only a teenager could be, with his explosive, intense love, I was seriously a reding-addicted. And than it came: I met Her, my dear Isabel (Allende). She had already written “House of the spirits” and the following movie (starring a cast no less than with Maryl Streep, Winona Rider, Jeremy Irons, Glen Close and Antonio Banderas) has already been an authentic worldwide success. But my first reading that time was “Eva Luna tells stories”. All that world of imagination, sensuality, legends mixed with ancestral myths, such as magic, ancient remedy and spiritual belivings made me tremendously enthusiastic of my new discover. Because when you discover a new good novelist is a party in your deeper side of emotions. A great step forward the path of your inner growing.
And with Isabel I discovered a sort of femininity goddess: the Latino-American feminine world made up of intense perfumes, colors, cooking flavors, and huge passion (as more later I’ d have also discovered in G.Garcia Marquez’s writings) played a pillar role in my troubled adolescent universe. It hooked me entirely and never left me for all my life.
In fact: here I am, just finishing her last novel (which I read in original spanish) “Mas alla’ del invierno” (“In the midst of winter”) .
After having read every inch of her previous works (among others :”Retrato en Sepia”, “La hija de la fortuna”, “Ines del alma mia”)…because, the point with Isabel is that while you are reading her novels you keep hoping they would never end..and when it comes… you feel so sad that..probably has come the moment to change and begin a new, different gender of reading.
(Second friend: Sophie)
Something really light but brilliant…like what I happened to heard about Sophie Kinsella. Those days I was in College and every girls I knew who loved reading didn’t loose a page of her. Her novels are called (and still are) “chick lit” gender. Because it collects the heritage of “pink novels”: all about impossible loves and intriguing but unlucky fate. But new “chick lit” gender is really more, enormously richer than pink novels were. First of all it’s incredibly funnier, modern and sparkling: it doesn’t talk only about love stories, but most of all tells modern women’s life, as work, friendship and everyday ‘s troubles. And, (of course) ..there is also plenty of space to speak about shopping life or (sometimes) shopping addiction!
Which is: Shopaholic World. My best friend Rebecca (Becky) Blomwood. And her brilliant misadventures! Never had such a fun (except reading “Bridget Jones’s diary”, only that could be Becky’s adventures best competitor of all times!). So, here we are! I discovered Sophie Kinsella, and all her novels (even those ones she wrote previously as a “before being famous” so-called Madaleine Wickham). A revolution in my reader’s world. The revolution of learning how to transform with fantasy, irony and a bit of craziness our everyday’s life. This is a great deal I really wanted to achieve, as a gift that could change everything in your life. Because first as a reader, than as a writer, if you catch that gift you’ll be blessed by the little magic of little things that happens around you. Which you’ll be able to see with a different view. Even enemies (in particular them: I mean, they could be transformed in funny Mr./Ms. Your Negativity, who could be fundamental for your novels…). And that’s the fantastic side of this gift: you ‘ll be grateful to your enemies for having entered in your life inspiring you.
(Third friend: Elisabeth)
..ok….Maybe now I’m a little diverting in a slowly different field from what is supposed to be “chick lit” gender …
You may say, I’m just adding a different touch… something like a zen, wisdom, yoga-meditating flavor…which really looks like… Elisabeth Gilbert’s touch? Yes! Indeed! In fact “Eat Pray Love” hit me so much that has left footstep in my intimate reader journey…
The fact is that I was really in a troubled point of my life, a not- coming -back turning point which made me feel divided. And, just in that time, I happened to discover Liz’s greatest novel. It was like an incredible following of coincidence: the right novel in the right moment. In fact: in Eat Pray Love the main character (the author herself) was in a huge depression because she discovered she didn’t want to become mother, while she desired a completely different life.. that’s what was happening to me, too: except that I was slightly near to depression for the opposite reason: I wanted a baby who didn’t appear…,
And than, exactly while I was entering with Liz in her personal, intimate journey…as two best friends who leave their city to make a travel together… it happened! I got it… I discovered I was Pregnant! That is exactly what She talks about in her last work: “the Big magic”. Particular coincidences, subtle connections with people, ideas or life events that cross you and other particular people (friends or unknowns) in the same moment … and the mysterious Magic that surrounds every single moment of our life….
I love Elisabeth Gilsbertt for having such gentle, sweet touch, such intimate way of telling her stories, always riches of spirituality and wisdom.
(Fourth friend: Amelie)
Than it’s time of my last one friend: the crazy, enigmatic, unpredictable Amelie Nothomb.
She is a master in mixing mysterious events with original, deep analysis of ethimology- etiology- religion and psicology. For instance: in her best seller “Barbablu “ she takes inspiration from an ancient legend (the myth of a criminal husband who kills every wife after few time spent together) that she completely rewrite in a modern situation, to detect human soul faced with a “holy, absolute prohibition”, as it happened to Eva in Garden of Eden. Temptation, curiosity, wisdom ‘s thirst face to law, or evolution instinct face to a promise of loyalty.
Predestination too, as happens in greek tragedy, is a topic that Amelie loves to be focused on. As in her last novel, “Count Nevill’s murder”.
But what made me feel to be really close to her was her funny, brilliant novel “Wonder and tremors”. Based on her real life, the novel takes place in Japan, where a young european girl is struggling to find her own way in a big oriental enterprise, dominated by formalism, competition, men leadership and, most of all, a completely different mentality.
I saw myself fighting like a little fish in a pool of sharks (attorney ‘s world is worst than a meeting of evils and witches: that’s where took inspiration the movie “the devil’s advocate”), the majority of whom were my female boss (ah there!) , with no idea of female solidarity …
They stand really in first line when it comes to killing you… just to survive themselves. Taking your head to feel like they have, now, reached absolute power..the poor ones. They won’t never be able to understand that in this men’s world we won’t ever reach nothing unless jointed for our common goal.
And there is no place for unfair play.
So…. thank to my last friend Amelie I had my comfort in sharing bad work’s experience with her..because..only with a good, understanding, tight friend you can take comfort without risking to be betrayed….
Those days I already had four excellent, brilliant, super heroes friends! My four close friend writers! Which I will always trust in every single line they’ll write fir the rest of my life.