The Dry Heart By Natalia Ginzburg

The dry heart by Natalia Ginzburg

Italian fiction

Original title – È stato così

Translator – Frances Frenaye

Source – personal copy

I mentioned on Twitter I was struggling to finish and concentrate on reading books recently. So I decided when I was in Macclesfield the other day to look for a short novella that was from a writer I have enjoyed before as maybe a way to kick start my reading as I hadn’t finished any book for more than a week. So when I saw this from the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg which I’m sure I’ve seen this month around twitter of this book and others by her. she is one of those writers `I read and knew I would read everything I could get my hands on. Ginzburg, she worked for one of the best publishing houses in Italy. A publisher that had published the likes of Carlo and Primo  Levi, Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino some of my favourite writers. Since she has been republished in the last few years she has had a revival and after reading this it is welcome to see people reading her.

‘TELL ME THE TRUTH, “I said.
What truth?’ he echoed. He was making a rapid sketch in his notebook and now he showed me what it was: a long, long train with a big cloud of black smoke swirling over it
and himself leaning out of a window to wave a handkerchief.I shot him between the eyes.

He had asked me to give him something hot in a thermos bottle to take with him on his trip. I went into the kitchen, made some tea, put milk and sugar in it, screwed the top on tight, and went back into his study. It was then that he showed me the sketch, and I took the revolver out
of his desk drawer and shot him between the eyes. But for a long time already I had known that sooner or later I should do something of the sort.

The opening is also the end in a way of the relationship

The Dry heart it is told from the perspective of a wife. The book opens as she shoots him between the eyes as she puts it what follows is a sort of remembered version of their time together of her meeting and falling in love with Alberto. She met him one day in the cafe but from the first, there is a sense the relationship is one-sided he asks her about her but when she tries to discover. more about him he is evasive about his life.The two form a bond she likes his interest in what she sees as her boring life as a teacher. They get close but he is always at at a neutral place like cafes or by the river. But then it isn’t til something happens to his mother that she finally gets a glimpse behind Alberto’s facade when he greets her in a dishevelled state. This maybe makes them see him as more human. But she still senses there is a real sense of two souls that shouldn’t be together coming together. Ginzburg draws you into this relationship and how it started and then fell apart from the perspective of some caught in the car crash of a relationship told in a way it is subtly explained and drawn in

BEFORE WE WERE MARRIED, when we went for a walk or sat in a café, Alberto enjoyed my company even if he wasn’t in love with me. He went out of his way to call on me; yes, even if it was raining he never failed to come. He sketched my face in his notebook and listened to what I had to say.

But after we were married he didn’t sketch my face any more. He drew animals and trains, and when I asked him whether trains meant that he wanted to go away he only laughed and said no.

The changes after they marry are the start of the relationship crashing

As I said I wanted a writer that I had enjoyed and this was the case with Ginzburg I had read the little virtues I had thought it was only a couple of years ago it turns out it was four years ago at the time I knew I want to read another from her but hadn’t thought it be so long anyway this is a book that even thou written in 1947 shows the power of great writing as it feels as thou it was written yesterday. it shows the dynamics of relationships are the same. The narrator tells the relationship in a fragmented nature we see how she ends up at the end which is also the beginning of the book shooting Alberto. It shows how a relationship is built bit by bit but like if you build a house on the sand the house is never stable and won’t ever last and this is the case here you read between the lines of the relationship growing there are gaps which we see in this relationship as they get drawn together but even the narrator sees this herself but is in denial or maybe just wants to ignore the faults she sees this is maybe what I like most about the book the sense of human nature in it how blindly we move at times through the world especially those nears to use we sometimes miss the faults and Alberto is a man that has many. it6s the fly on the wall that looks at a relationship from the female perspective that even 75 years later sounds familiar. Have you read any books by Ginzburg if so which should I try next?

Winstons score – a – it is amazing how it is still relevant and reads as thou not was written yesterday.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Aug 28, 2022 @ 06:07:18

    I seem to have been seeing Ginzburg’s name everywhere lately, and now I know why!

    Reply

  2. 1streading
    Aug 28, 2022 @ 18:19:04

    I picked this up recently but haven’t read it yet. I did read All My Yesterdays over the summer and and I’m becoming something of a Ginzburg fan!

    Reply

  3. JacquiWine
    Aug 29, 2022 @ 12:04:29

    Sounds great, Stu. I think this might be the next Ginzburg I read as she’s fast becoming one of my favourite writers. She writes about the messy nature of relationships so well.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: That was the month that was August 2022 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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