Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: Unseen by Karin Slaughter

I came to Karin Slaughter a little late and perhaps that’s one of the main reasons that I enjoy all her tales just as much. Whether they are short stories, novellas or full-scale novels it doesn’t make any difference to me. Her writing is consistently good and so are her plots, and in Will Trent I have found one of the most likeable and unforgettable heroes of crime fiction.

What makes this character different is his flaws, which are a little bit different from those of his colleagues. He’s dyslectic, an orphan and someone who prefers to work alone and undercover, not because he’s misanthropic but simply because he doesn’t want to see people he cares about get hurt. One could say that Will lives in his head, and they’d be more or less right, but that doesn’t mean that he’s unwilling to live in this world, in a circle of friends and lovers; he just finds it hard to do.

In this story Trent, along with many other cops and agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation go after an invisible man, a big time drug dealer who’s currently moving his operations from Florida to Macon. The problem they face in finding out who he is and arresting him is that no one has ever seen him. He runs his business in the darkness and moves in the shadows, and whoever comes close to discovering his identity doesn’t live to tell it.

So, how do you apprehend someone like that? Perhaps the only chance the cops have is to get lucky. But even if they do, will they be able to achieve their goal? Big Whitey, as the drug dealer is called, seems to be someone who’s not only very clever but also extremely careful. Will hopes to get close to him by going undercover, but what if the man you’re going up against knows your every move right from the start?

The author created a tight plot, with some twists and turns, but mostly with lots of downs when it comes to her heroes. Every single one of the protagonists of this series of novels seems to be struggling with their lives, with their past, and with some memories that they want to create but which perhaps are never meant to be. Amanda, Will’s boss and kind-of-a-mother, has to fight racial and gender discrimination every day, something that makes her life miserable most times than not. Faith, his partner at the GBI has her own ghosts to deal with, while Sara, his doctor-girlfriend is not the happiest woman around either. Can these damaged souls live together or around each other and do their jobs without getting into some serious trouble? Well, they can, and they cannot. And that’s exactly what makes the story work. Their weaknesses make them human, and their humanity brings them close, and as a result they have each other’s back no matter what.

If you’ve enjoyed the previous novels in the series you’ll surely enjoy this one. But if you haven’t had a chance yet to take a look at this author’s fictional criminal world, starting here could be as good a point as any. This is pure, well-written, and finely-tuned crime fiction, and as such if you are a fan of the genre, you’re bound to enjoy it.

First published in Crime Factory magazine.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Eulogy for Love - Chapter 3

Love is anterior to life,
posterior to death,
initial of creation,
and the exponent of breath.

Emily Dickinson

I think that during this day that's about to end, a lot of people came to visit you. Less will come tomorrow and even less the day after. Perhaps they'll bring you some more flowers, probably they'll offer a few more tears. In pain. Little by little this scent of spring and greenhouse will abandon once and for all your two meters of land, and you'll remain by your lonesome, a soul among a score of souls that were blessed with plentiful of love in life. I'd like to find for you flowers in dew, blessed with the sweet color of the sad twilight.

You know, some people say that love is paradise. It's obvious to me that the people who claim that have never loved much. Love is hell. A hell, in whose fire you constantly burn. It's also pain and a lot of tears. There are more people that have loved and were never loved in return than those who gave love and were repaid in kind. Love is hell, because it gives you wings and lights them on fire all at once. It makes you weak. It gives you hope but steals your dreams. Has there ever been someone that loved somebody wholly, truly, with blazing passion and never hurt? Anyone that touched the flame of love and hasn't been burned? If love was paradise I would have lived there, since I loved you passionately, blindly. But my love was pain. Not much different from now. The pain of your absence. The pain of your broken gaze. The pain of your whispering. The pain of you being there, but not for me. When you love and are being loved, when you weep and your partner wipes with kisses the tears from your cheeks, when you are in pain and a beloved being is there to comfort you, when life brings you down and a second pair of wings springs up at your sides and help you fly again, when you feel the world blowing up to pieces and hear a sweet voice whisper into your ear "Life is beautiful. I love you," then hell transforms itself into paradise, and paradise becomes the essence of love.

I would like to have even a little bit of talent, to be a humble painter, so that I could pick up brushes and colors and recreate your image as it is engraved in my well of memories: a smooth white face, sad eyes with a spark hidden in their depths, loose curly long hair, not exactly blond nor fair, taking shape by the wind's whims, an angelic body and in the chest a heart with two white feathers holding it up, illuminated by a pink glow, and on the lips you'll have a wide smile, as wide and as narrow as my world. There, I've turned you into an icon inside my head, but a saint you never were.

Smiling! That is how I want to remember you. I want your smiles to be my fortune, and the many tears you've shed I'll only think as a cacophony in a perfect picture. I want to forget the dark circles around your eyes. I want to forget the way you always seemed to bend, about to break. I want to forget all the things I've guessed through your silence. And yet I know that I will forget nothing, because of who you were, because of who I am. I couldn't since I long for all that has been lost. I will be always be the dream's ridiculous victim.

I've devoted all of today to you, looking at your photos, reading the very few letters you've sent or gave me, listening to songs and instrumental music that I've first shared with you. I miss you so much, more than you could ever imagine, more than I can possibly say. With a restless mania I want the thing I miss, I want you.

Your presence and your absence felt so intense in my room, small and claustrophobic, that I wanted to start yelling, to cry out in despair, to turn my tears and the many memories into a boat, with which I could cross the Acherusia lake to come and find you. But, despite what I wanted to do, I already felt that you were nearby, no more than a breath away from me. While reliving in my head all that we have lived together or apart, I've managed to reanimate you as a creation of my fantasy, a person that was there and yet was not. You came back to life as a single teardrop that didn't run dry on my cheek but kept on going, crisscrossing my whole body and spilling into the land, and thus passing into eternity.

The songs we've heard together, the lyrics we've read, our times of madness, the secrets we've shared, the smiles we've exchanged, all our confessions, the great moments that many people have dreamed but only a very few lived, these are the things that will always haunt me and make me feel a little bit proud about the riches of my yester years. And as long as there's a heart beating in my chest, your heart will also go on beating. My soul will always be the faithful comrade of your soul.

They say that death is the ultimate limit. Well, I refuse to acknowledge it. Limits were invented to keep us enslaved in cages not of our own making. Beyond all, above all is love, and it knows no limits. It pays no heed to the no's and the don'ts, it doesn't know what must means. We put labels on love, the fools. As if we don't know that love is the thing that cannot be told. Beyond place, beyond time!

Now, I want nothing more than to reach you, to stand close enough to you to be able to see… to see once more that very first look you gave me as I came along… all those tiny wrinkles on your face… to see your smile… to see your arms spreading forward to embrace me…

The lines written in Italian are taken from Maria Polydouri, a Greek poet.

You can read the previews chapters here and here.

The image was taken from here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Because I've dreamed by Maria Polydouri

Why doesn't the dawn want to me to smile
and has hidden away its rosy shape?
Sweet the dream today I have made
where blossomless the dream's been buried.

But with no hope will it bless me
as it remains dressed in grief,
with a purple glimmer in its face
which in blurry tears suffocates.

Oh, had it remembered that once
in the winds of autumn past
that for the blue ether I had longed for
of the dream, before the evensong call.

And that it would come where my bitter
life has finally tilted blossomless finally,
to give me a sweet smile and spread hither
her flowers' rosy secrets tenderly.

Translated from Greek by yours truly.

The image was taken from here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ana Zumani - Eros

I want to undertake your protection and care on a spiritual, psychological and bodily level.

To preserve it and multiply it every hour and every moment - with the strength of Eros.

I want to be for your precious machine whatever fresh air and pure nourishment is to it.

A tonic of its divine resemblances.

And if one day my magical allure is gone, I want to simply vanish from your life, with my memory full of those sacred days and nights, when you used to rhythmically grow with my every breath.

Translated by yours truly from Greek.

The image was taken from here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Shut up

Don't tell me what I can and cannot do.
I can do everything.
Since always.
But what for me matters the most is
the moment.
And every moment is different.
It once leads me one way and then the other.
My dreams can wait.
But not for long.
Let your dreams for me wait
they'll never come true.
I was born free a master of myself
and not your underling.
And if I've chosen some forms of slavery
they were part of my learning process
a process that doesn't seem to seek to come
to an end.
I have not forgotten your words and exhortations
but I never wanted to partake
to the secret of the daily misery
that you call life.
Your way of thinking is ephemeral and
it's only purpose is the transient vindication
of your expectations.
I think of the past
study the present
and visualize without even trying
the future.
So, at long last you should shut up
and let me be myself
my own ruler
and if your dreams for me don't come true
worry not
mine one day will.

This was originally written in Greek.

The image was taken from here.