Late last year, the lovely people at Troubador publishing sent me a copy of Emotions of a Book by Guido Parisi, a book described as ‘Dialogue Between a Blank Book and a Potential Author.’ As a writer and potential author myself (I finished the first draft of my first novel last year and seem to be constantly writing down notes and scraps of poetry), I was intrigued.
Parisi begins with exactly what the book is described as. The first section is the main part of the conversation, although it is dotted throughout the book. I do have to admit that the dialogue sections could be quite confusing due to the fact that each line of speech was bullet pointed rather than more traditional methods of paragraphing and speech marks, and I kept getting mixed up as to who was actually speaking, which didn’t help with my engagement with the book as I spent more time worrying about who was talking rather than what was being said.
The stories at the beginning and their different aspects felt a lot more disjointed at the beginning of the book, but then evened out quite nicely as it progressed, coming down to the two main narratives: the first, of Albert, a young German boy who moves back to his home country from America and joins the Hitler Youth, and the second, of Mike, an English professor at a Canadian university managing a student production of Romeo and Juliet. I found both characters and their circumstances very interesting, though personally I was drawn more to Mike. I think that was more because I liked his character more – I really did not like Albert as a person, although he was a very good character, with many layers and aspects to him. I think Mike’s story is perhaps the more enjoyable one and is definitely the one that most people will be more comfortable reading, but for me, I loved it as I suppose I could relate more to the character and had personal interests reflected in his story: I am an English student, I love history, I have personally been to Verona and the area surrounding (a place featured in the latter part of the book) and loved Mike’s discussions about poetry with his friend.
Parisi is a very eloquent writer. I loved the way he used language and created the different voices for each character – whether that was Albert, Mike, the Book, the Potential Author or Julia and Agnese. I think the characters, and the way they came alive, is the main strength of this book.
Going into it, I thought that I would perhaps be offered some specific writing advice – technical ways to improve and edit the way I write. Although that was not necessarily the case, I think the overall message of the book when it comes to writing is to just write. To not make excuses and just sit down to write if you want to write. A valuable piece of advice if ever I saw one.
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