Friday, August 12, 2011

Without Blood

Alessandro Baricco
This book opens in an old isolated farmhouse, with a father and his two children (a boy and a girl). The father goes and looks out of the window at the sound of a car engine. What happens next is a shocking act of violence, that leaves the father and son shot dead. The daughter (Nina) although hidden away is discovered by Tito, the youngest of the killers.
“The child turned her head and looked at him. She had dark eyes, oddly shaped. She looked at him without expression. Her lips were half closed and she was breathing calmly. She was an animal in its den. Tito felt returning to him a sensation he had felt a thousand times, finding that exact position between the warmth of the sheets or under the afternoon sun of childhood Knees folded, hands between the legs, feet balanced. Head bent forward slightly, closing the circle. How lovely it was, he thought……..”

What he sees is a 4 year child, and against the wishes of his comrades, he covers up her hiding place & leaves her without revealing her existence.
Years later a beautiful women somewhere in her 50’s purchases a lotto ticket from an old man. She strikes up a conversation with him, then invites him to go with her for a drink. He somehow recognises her as the young girl from years before & initially refuses, knowing that he is the last  one of the killers  surviving from that day, that his fellow assassins have met untimely ends. Although believing she’s here to kill him, he goes with her to a local cafe, and over glasses of wine, they start a conversation which takes up the major part of the book and shows how each of their lives have cast shadows upon the other, and how Nina's life, an apparent series of isolated moments, of twists of fate, becomes a net of intrigue, of calculated intent.
They leave the cafe……

This Novel  could so easily have become  a tale of revenge, carrying on with the bloody path it first seems to be taking, but it becomes so much more, with it’s beautiful understated prose, placing it in a no mans land, in a time and place unstated. It’s myth and like myth it’s relevance is timeless & like myth it mines the human psyche.This book is 87 pages of viscerally shocking, mesmerising writing. It takes no time to read and yet its stark landscape will become a backdrop to your thoughts .wbab









After reading Ocean Sea, by this author last year, I’ve been wanting to read another of his books and came across this one, I’ll now be tracking down his other works.

Translated by Ann Goldstein
Alessandro Baricco(Wiki)
Alessandro Baricco(Publishers)

14 comments:

leeswammes said...

Sounds like a great book. I'm putting this on my TBR. It seems very interesting. Thanks for your review.

Bellezza said...

This sounds rather shocking, to say the least, and I'm not normally one who's able to handle lots of violence. But, I so respect your opinion, and it's interesting to know of other novels than those I'd normally choose on my own. Perhaps if I can find it at the library...

winstonsdad said...

I ll have to keep an eye out for this one ,all the best stu

gina said...

I went over to read your review of Ocean Sea and have to say that it sounds right up my alley. I love it when writers make characters of inanimate objects or things. A city, a house, or in that case, the sea.

I'm not sure that Without Blood is something that I'd enjoy BUT I'm very curious to see why Toby agrees to drink wine and converse with Nina, even when he suspects that she's that little girl he saved. It's almost too normal of an act, to sit with someone whose life you altered and suspect that she is there to avenge her father and son.

And your praise of the writing has me even more curious to see how Baricco/Goldstein temper the subject of this book with understated prose.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Judith, He's an Interesting Writer, this is the 2nd I've read & have another on my shelves, waiting to.

Ciao Bellezza, Although it starts in a shocking way, it isn't that bad & makes up a miniscule percentage of the book, the rest is a conversation between 2 individuals.

Hi Stu, It's worth a pop if you come across it, I think this was a bookmooch, after I enjoyed Ocean Sea.

Hi Gina, I prefer Ocean Sea It's a gentler more thoughtful book & funnier, I enjoyed this but not as much.

kinnareads said...

I read one of his novels, Silk, many years ago and enjoyed that a great deal. I always meant to read more stuff by him but never did. It sounds intense but also quite controlled. Thanks for the review.

parrish lantern said...

Hi Kinna, Silk's on my list, the next by this writer (sitting on my shelf) is "Lands of Glass". thanks for the compliment & if you get the chance check out the Pomesallsizes Poetry Page & if you know some good poetry sites please let me know. Again Thanks.

I'm Simon Quicke and I have said...

Sounds really interesting. Will look out for that author in the future. Thanks for the review.

Violet said...

Sounds like something I would enjoy. There is no room for waffle in 87 pages, and I do like peering into the human psyche. :)

parrish lantern said...

Hi Simon, this is my 2nd book by him & I've enjoyed both, I've also found out he did the Iliad (An Iliad) for the Cannongate's Myth series, which has peeked my interest.

Hi Victoria, This book sets the scene, then moves forward where two of those involved discuss the ramifications, and then it finishes leaving wanting to know more

Crafty Green Poet said...

Good review! I love this book and Ocean Sea!

Pete said...

What an interesting book! I've only read Novecento from Baricco, which I enjoyed, but this book sounds even better. I'm definitely going to try to track it down.

Fairday Morrow said...

Wow! This sounds like an amazing book! The cover is also cool.

I found you through Book Blogs and signed up to follow you. When you have a chance- please stop by and follow the blog for my middle grade novel that I am hoping to get published. http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

Take care-
Jess- although I may show up as Fairday, the main character from my novel. I can't figure out why that happens sometimes and I can't fix it. :)

parrish lantern said...

Hi, Crafty Green Poet of the two Ocean Sea is my favourite, although did love this.

Hi Pete, track it down, you'll enjoy it.

Hello,Jess, give it a go, if you like try ocean sea, loved both.