Alfonso - Goodreads I Ashley

March 17, 2014

Melissa Ashley
I have just finished this beautiful book. There is so much wisdom packed into those 117 pages. The closing image of the snake shedding its skin and Alfonso in the house he renovated brought tears to my eyes. Calvino uses clothing and the home as great images for Alfonso transforming into a man. I loved how the author merged the imagery on the final page. Were they ghosts, memories, of Alfonso as a boy with his mother, or was it the light, when you just open your eyes? It all works and flows together. Calvino’s writing is exquisite, the sadness, the complexity of the emotion that he has invested in Alfonso, told through his daily rituals, his habits and behaviour, feels very real. I can relate to his struggles to go out into the world, and then the rewards, or the love, the living, he receives when he does muster up the courage to do so.

I really liked Nancy. She is portrayed in a way that grows more and more complex, with different layers of her personality unfolding. I think her patience with Alfonso the most important aspect of her, in a way. That is what he needs, at that moment. He is unable to help himself, he is paralysed, and in fact, acts in ways to push her away. He is so exquisitely conflicted and tortured by his inexperience, expectations, and needs. Nancy does not seem to know Alfonso well, but it seems that she accepts him and, not necessarily understands him, maybe she does, I cannot tell, but she is patient with him. She allows him to be himself. I am pleased the author allowed the reader hope in the end. I find Calvino’s writing very comforting, and that is the writing that I love most of all. Writing that is true, that tells me something about living, about being alive, wrapping sadness and joy up together. That is why I read literature, to discover something that is true in a story, and to be comforted.