The Puzzle MasterBy Danielle Trussoni
Book of the Week
I’ll be 51 this Sunday and I read two books a week. It adds up, and this is the best I’ve ever read. As it’s very far from an ordinary read , I can’t write a review as I normally would. The plot and characters are fantastic, compelling, memorable, surprising…but the book is more than anything a magic box. Trussoni also has an unsettling ability to mention everything of interest and everything that has come up lately. I thought about making a website that would emulate the ability of a pile of transparency sheets to create a composite image, and that process is mentioned. I learned about the idea of the singularity this week–the possible future time when technological growth becomes uncontrollable–and it’s there. A central theme is a kind of mythical creature I had mentioned to me recently. And the characters, and of course the author, see into the reader in other ways, with the bizarre turns in the tale perfectly allowing every nuance of the strange folks within to emerge, but also startling the consumer of this sorcery on every page. What’s the book about? Everything, but there’s a framework. A puzzle maker, who, through a brain injury, gains the remarkable ability to see “that particular kind of order that [distinguishes] a puzzle from everything else on the planet,” meets a prisoner who hands him a drawing, a puzzle he can’t even begin to unlock. It leads him to letters and a diary that describe a dangerous quest to “lift the veil between the human and the Divine and [stare] directly into the eyes of God.” There’s homework before you read this so that you can be in the right frame of mind to take in its wonder. Read Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, Aimee Pokwatka’s Self Portrait with Nothing, and Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near. And then clear a weekend.
The Lover of No Fixed Abode.By Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini
For Donna Leon Fans
This strange, beautiful tale wedges readers into the crowded boats and alleys of Venice while whisking them along on a three-day romance with a Roman princess and the down-at-heel tour guide she falls for. The two seem to float above the city’s watery fray even before meeting. After meeting, they withdraw completely into their own emotional realm, “literally liquefied” by their fascination and passion for each other. Time is immaterial, they agree, as they find themselves “precariously suspended between being and non-being,” contemplate “intimate perplexities on who is who, where the I ends and the you begins,” and eat “a variety of little inventions.” The love story, which as the translator’s note explains, features more robustly in the book than the crime tale related to the princess’s work as an art dealer, soon provokes questions in the reader. Where is the tour guide from? Why must he leave Venice despite his grief over losing the love he has just stumbled upon? The answer to the mystery is startling and brings up many questions about the nature of life and how the past, and past injustices, can resonate today. Try this after Danielle Trussoni’s The Puzzle Master; you’ll come back to Earth eventually