Tell Me a Story

In the Top Ten

 At number one is My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. The number six spot holds The Story of a New Name,Elena Ferrante again and in the ten spot – Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay written, once more, by Elena Ferrante.

These 3 books, all by the same author, are on Boston Globe’s top ten local best sellers list this week. Second week in a row too. I’ve never heard of Elena Ferrante which is not say Gee, I know about every damn author everywhere. WHO is this upstart, this newbie?! Fuck no, ‘course not. It’s just that, for as much time as I spend in bookstores and libraries AND with her being so heavily represented in the top tens lately, I’d have thought her name would ring at least one tiny jingle bell. Nope.

The New York Times notes that Ms. Ferrante is extremely private, saying:
Compared with Ferrante, Thomas Pynchon is a publicity profligate. 
What she looks like, what her real name is, when she was born, how she currently lives—these things are all unknown. 
So yeah, there’s my excuse for never having heard of her before.

The cover art, and you know I’m heavily swayed by cover art, is redolent of cozy romance novels for middle aged, middle to upper class, suburban, mortgage heavy, B.A.ed, M.A.ed,  overworked mothers who are, perhaps, unhappily or at least dully married.

The art doesn’t speak to me. If the books weren’t, all of a sudden, out of seeming nowhere, glutting up the bestseller list, I wouldn’t be giving them a second look.

I know. You’re thinking If there was a rocket ship on the damn jacket you’d buy the book no matter what the story synopsis was. //snort// What’s yur point?

In any case, could the cover art mebbe be misleading? I read a few different reviews and, yes, it seems the illustrations are fibbing! *gasp!*
These books are part of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series – the tale of two girls, friends, from financially unblessed families. They grow up, make choices they come to seriously, totally regret – they evolve and shit happens. So it is sounding a bit Little Women-Jo Marsh-ish – you knowstories for adult girls who’ve discovered the prince is actually a dick and they, themselves, are more than just a wife/mother/daughter. OK. Yawn.

The New Yorker post has me all curious though – willing to defy my cover art prejudice and pick one up.
As soon as you read her fiction, Ferrante’s restraint seems wisely self-protective. Her novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader. 
I do love a good confessional memoir-esque sort of a story

How to explain the phenomenon of three of this same author’s works on the bestseller list at once and ongoing. Maybe all the local book clubs are reading them now. Boston is, when it comes right down to it, just a small town. Clubs feed off each other, pass things around.

//shrugs// I think I’ll hit the used bookstore later this week.