Monday, May 05, 2014

"The Silence of the Wave", another novel from Gianrico Carofiglia

Rarely are books by one author commented on with such a short lag time here.  On March 21 there was a post here on another Gianrico Carofiglia novel, that one part of his Guido Guerrieri crime series.  "The Silence of the Wave" breaks that mold for the most part and benefits from the change.  The book was found in the most unlikely place here.  That is the local library which does not have an especially broad reach.  The book was written in 2011 but the translation was completed in 2013.  As recently as two months ago it was not listed on Amazon, so publishing and distribution seems to have occurred in 2014.

While the protagonist of the book is a carabiniera, or detective, in Rome,  on disability leave and with some stories to tell, that is the main link to Carofiglia's prior tales.  It is a story of a nascent and unexpected relationship, a child's dream life that links to his real life, and two individuals seeking psychiatric help to move past almost disabling traumatic experiences.  The two inadvertently meet as their appointments are contiguous, and slowly a relationship develops.

A poster in the psychiatrist's office is a photo of Louis Armstrong, with the words across it saying, "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."  That sets a tone that defies exact knowledge and the ability to force understanding, of many things.   A chapter early on begins with the sentence, "Sometimes remembering and thinking are not beneficial activities."  That's  the same theme it seems.  Later in the book as the story develops a sentence pops out of one sequence, "When a coincidence is repeated, it constitutes a first clue and then evidence."  Just maybe something is knowable.

Other sentences from the book that resonated here when put in the context of the story were, from the psychiatrist, "People come here to learn to live with their own madness.  Even though nobody is aware of it."  From the protagonist, "I started to feel afraid of death just when I stopped caring about my life."  Again his thoughts, "At what point had he disappeared to give way to someone else."  And from his mother in the past, "The older you get the faster time seems to go.  That's what makes you afraid."  On the surface each of these quotes may not sound like much, but in this modest book they work.

As detailed somewhat in the March 21 post, Carofiglio's crime novels are more investigation and thought than ones of action or violence.  They are built on character development and not on formulaic plots.  "The Silence of the Wave", referring to surfing and the main character's childhood experiences in California, is a breakthrough book to some extent.  It is a book that doesn't try to do too much but definitely does enough.  It was an enjoyable break from a bout of non-fiction that I am going through.  While there are a couple of, just two, cliched literary references, overall "The Silence of the Wave" was thought provoking, observant, and entertaining.  What more can one ask from a crime writer in transition.



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