– Penguin Books 1980, ISBN 0140050965/ 9780140050967 ; 288 p.
Read from August 15th to September 9th 2016
During the twenty-minute waiting between the two buses I have to take to go to work every day I – read of course, what else? Usually slim books that don’t weigh a lot in my purse, like Kingsley Amis’s Jake’s Thing, which I borrowed from a friend of mine who bought it in a second-hand bookstore without looking inside, as I realized when I grabbed it one morning and opened it happily and impatiently (for Lucky Jim is one of my favourites and I was looking forward to something in the same tonality) in the bus station to suddenly realize that the first chapter was missing. Since the second one began at page 5, I decided that whatever events were presented in the first three (coz I excluded the title page, of course) could be read afterwards and thus, following a Cortazar recipe, I read the novel as it was and went in search of the first chapter afterwards. Lucky me, I found it on Amazon, which was offering it as a sample of its kindle edition.
I don’t want to suggest, with this long introduction, that the story of the reading was more interesting than the story itself; it was just that it made me able to recapture a long-lost memory from my childhood holidays at my grandparents’ house in a mesmerizing countryside (though, alas, not in Combray!), with long sunny days during which I used to climb dusty attics looking for old, dilapidated books I devoured despite missing covers or pages or both. I did not care much then about the indestructibility of the text, nor did I bother with the idea that even a single missing word can leave a gaping hole in a narrative. On the contrary, I loved to fill in the blanks with my own words, to guess and even re-write the missing parts.