I didn’t actually intend to not come back until the end of February, but, hey, here we are: time flew by as I flew through Wanderers by Chuck Wendig—which was fun in the exact way I needed something to be fun when I picked it up, fun in a “Stephen King, but different” way; as a slow reader, typically, swallowing an 800 page novel whole over the course of a week is a rare treat—before starting in on Lies and Sorcery, by Elsa Morante, which I am now absolutely slogging my way through, which is not for one second to say I don’t like it—I’m actually really rather into it, otherwise I’m sure I would have given up on it quite a while ago; I just, for whatever reason (distraction, fatigue, a Wanderers-shaped hangover, distraction) can’t seem to get through more than a handful of pages at a time.

Did I say distraction?

To be sure, I’m sure this is a me problem, and it’s not without precedent. The pitch that got me on to Morante was NYRB publishing it and then leaning back against the nearest brick wall and, lighting some cheap, unfiltered Italian cigarette, mumbled something like "Hey, you like Elena Ferrante," under their breath, no question mark, and me being like, well, yes, yes, I do, and then I owned the Morante book with no memory of ordering it, weird. And but so when I read the Neapolitan quartet I ultimately loved it but boy oh boy did it take me a while to get into it, really, I think, if I remember correctly; like, maybe it just took a couple books for the shape of the thing to really come clear to me? And now I’m at the midpoint of the Morante book and I’m hoping for that same sort of turn, that same sort of sense of churning momentum to kick in to start carrying me down the far side of this hill. We’ll see.

Because I do feel more interested in the book as the scope expands—as we go further back in time, as more vantages are opened up and more connections are made between the characters, all of which feeds into the narrator’s story, and my curiosity increases as to how and in what ways that history informs, well, her, the narrator’s, existence, life, decision to tell the story. How much of it is, shall we say, lies, and how much else, sorcery. Because I find that narrator really interesting in a way that goes beyond the Ferrante connection. Because what’s cool is that for all the obvious and known reference points cited in the marketing around the book—Ferrante, Tolstoy, Proust, yes, yes, of course—I’m also getting this waft of Dickens, which is cool if you're into that, and but also Shirley Jackson? Like, the narrator is maybe a Shirley Jackson character, given access to a ghostly time machine? And I’m not nearly expert enough on Jackson to draw that connection out for you and I don't know how much of that's just me reaching and how much it's going to feed into the story's resolution but I swear I swear it’s there. Something of the narrative misfit, something of the enthralled loner. Something? Something.