Day: May 21, 2019

My Book Notes: Game of Mirrors (Inspector Montalbano #18 ) by Andrea Camilleri (tr. Stephen Sartarelli)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Mantle, 2015. Format; Kindle edition. File size: 1082 KB. Print length: 289pages. ASIN:B00SN934T4. ISBN: 978-1-4472-4920-7. Originally published in Italian in 2010 as Il gioco degli specchi by Sellerio Editore, Palermo. Translated by Stephen Sartarelli in 2015.

original_400_600First paragraph: He’d already been sitting for the last two hours, naked as the day God made him, in a chair, writs and ankles bound in iron bands to which were attached a great many wires that led into a metal cabinet all decorated on the outside with dials, pressure gauges, ampere meters, barometers, and little green, red and blue lights blinking on and off, endlessly. On his head was a sort of dome just like the hairdryers that hairdressers put on ladies’ heads when giving them a perm, except that his was connected to the cabinet by a large black cable with hundreds of coloured wires wound up inside.

Synopsis: When Montalbano comes to the aid of his new neighbour, Liliana Lombardo, after the engine of her car is interfered with, the inspector can little imagine where this innocuous event will lead. It soon transpires that the young woman – beautiful, intelligent and rather vague about the whereabouts of her husband – is being targeted by someone with a grudge against her. But is Liliana’s growing interest in Montalbano simply a product of the detective’s innate charm? Or is she trying to lead him astray – and into trouble?
Meanwhile the inspector finds himself drawn into another mystery when a bomb explodes outside an empty warehouse in Vigàta. But who was the bomb intended for? And why was it left in such a peculiar place? As Montalbano and his colleagues investigate the street’s residents – some of whom have suspicious mafia links – they begin to receive a barrage of false clues from an anonymous source.
As Liliana’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and leaks around the case threaten Montalbano’s reputation; the sense of danger grows. The inspector soon realizes that, with this investigation, he is being led into a hall of mirrors, where there is danger at every turn and nothing is quite clear . . .

My take: Games of Mirrors is the eighteenth book in Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano mysteries. It was first published in 2010 when Camilleri was approximately eighty-five years old and, what is even even most surprisingly, nine years later Camilleri continues writing and publishing a new episode in the series every year. My admiration for this book series started to develop some ten years ago when reading August Heat (Commissario Montalbano #10). Since then, I’ve read most of his books translated so far, either in English or in Spanish. In a sense I always found reassuring to meet each time the same characters to whom I regard already as old friends: Livia his everlasting fianceé, Enzo the owner of his Trattoria, his colleagues Mimì’ Augello, Fazio, Galluzzo, and Catarella, his friend the journalist Nicolo Zito, Dr Pasquano, and many others.

In this instance, the action begins when Montalbano tries to help a damsel in distress. The damsel in question is his neighbour, the stunning Signora Liliana Lombardo, whose car refuses to start one morning. Gentlemanly, Montalbano volunteers to give her a ride in his car, regretfully his skills as auto mechanic are null. In any case, they  wouldn’t have help him much, given that the engine had been vandalized, a fact that Signora Lombardo wishes to hide from Montalbano, to whom it seems strange that she wouldn’t even want to denounce it. Almost simultaneously there is an explosion in front of an empty warehouse that, fortunately, does not leave any injured. The two storylines unfold with no apparent relationship, though what happens afterwards, always seems to be directed to hide something, as in a game of mirrors.

Probably in this instalment, it becomes more evident the formula employed by Camilleri to produce every year one more book. Though in spite of that, the story proves to be highly interesting and is perfectly crafted. It is also true that the characters have not evolved much throughout the series and remain with fairly few changes since the first book. However, it is worth mentioning in this instalment that, during a great part of the story, the action unfolds in a soft and quite pace, until Camilleri shakes the reader’s consciousness with some horrendous crimes. After all we are in Mafia territory.  Even with its flaws, there’s nothing to prevent us from enjoying the reading of this book. But all in all, perhaps John Grant has find the right words to expressed what I feel when saying that even if he enjoyed the breaded tilapia and fresh vegetables he ate on yesterday supper, he just wouldn’t want it each day. So just find the right dose for yourself and enjoy this series.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the Author: Andrea Camilleri born 6 September 1925) is an Italian writer. Originally from Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Camilleri began studies at the Faculty of Literature in 1944, without concluding them, meanwhile publishing poems and short stories. From 1948 to 1950 Camilleri studied stage and film direction at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts (Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica) and began to take on work as a director and screenwriter, directing especially plays by Pirandello and Beckett. With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Inspector Maigret with Gino Cervi. In 1977 he returned to the Academy of Dramatic Arts, holding the chair of Film Direction and occupying it for 20 years. In 1978 Camilleri wrote his first novel Il Corso Delle Cose (“The Way Things Go”). This was followed by Un Filo di Fumo (“A Thread of Smoke”) in 1980. Neither of these works enjoyed any significant amount of popularity. In 1992, after a long pause of 12 years, Camilleri once more took up novel-writing. A new book, La Stagione della Caccia (“The Hunting Season”) turned out to be a best-seller. In 1994 Camilleri published the first in a long series of novels: La forma dell’Acqua (The Shape of Water) featured the character of Inspector Montalbano, a fractious Sicilian detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. The series is written in Italian but with a substantial sprinkling of Sicilian phrases and grammar. The name Montalbano is a homage to the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán; the similarities between Montalban’s Pepe Carvalho and Camilleri’s fictional detective are remarkable. Both writers make great play of their protagonists’ gastronomic preferences. This feature provides an interesting quirk which has become something of a fad among his readership even in mainland Italy. The TV adaptation of Montalbano’s adventures, starring Luca Zingaretti, further increased Camilleri’s popularity to such a point that in 2003 Camilleri’s home town, Porto Empedocle – on which Vigàta is modelled – took the extraordinary step of changing its official name to that of Porto Empedocle Vigàta, no doubt with an eye to capitalising on the tourism possibilities thrown up by the author’s work. On his website, Camilleri refers to the engaging and multi-faceted character of Montalbano as a “serial killer of characters,” meaning that he has developed a life of his own and demands great attention from his author, to the demise of other potential books and different personages. Camilleri added that he writes a Montalbano novel every so often just so that the character will be appeased and allow him to work on other stories. In 2012, Camilleri’s The Potter’s Field (translated by Stephen Sartarelli) was announced as the winner of the 2012 Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger. The announcement was made on 5 July 2012 at the awards ceremony held at One Birdcage Walk in London. Camilleri now lives in Rome. (Source: Wikipedia)

To the best of my knowledge, the complete book series comprises so far the following titles in publication order: The Shape of Water, 2002 [La forma dell’acqua, Palermo, Sellerio, 1994];The Terra-Cotta Dog, 2002 [Il cane di terracotta, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996]; The Snack Thief, 2003 [Il ladro di merendine, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996]; The Voice of the Violin, 2003 [La voce del violino, Palermo, Sellerio, 1997]; The Excursion To Tindari, 2005 [La gita a Tindari, Palermo, Sellerio, 2000]; The Smell of the Night aka The Scent of the Night, 2005 [L’odore della notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2001]; Rounding the Mark, 2006 [Il giro di boa, Palermo, Sellerio, 2003]; The Patience of the Spider, 2007 [La pazienza del ragno, Palermo, Sellerio, 2004]; The Paper Moon, 2008 [La luna di carta, Palermo, Sellerio, 2005]; August Heat, 2009 [La vampa d’agosto, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006]; The Wings of the Sphinx, 2009 [Le ali della sfinge, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006]; The Track of Sand, 2010 [La pista di sabbia, Palermo, Sellerio, 2007]; The Potter’s Field, 2011 [Il campo del vasaio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008]; The Age of Doubt, 2012 [L’età del dubbio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008];The Dance of the Seagull, 2013 [La danza del gabbiano, Palermo, Sellerio, 2009]; The Treasure Hunt, 2013 [La caccia al tesoro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; Angelica’s Smile, 2014 [Il sorriso di Angelica, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; Game of Mirrors, 2015 [Il gioco degli specchi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010]; A Beam of Light aka Blade of Light, 2015 [Una lama di luce, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012]; A Voice in the Night, 2016 [Una voce di notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012]; A Nest of Vipers, 2017 [Un covo di vipere, Palermo, Sellerio, 2013]; The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 [La piramide di fango, Palermo, Sellerio, 2014]; The Overnight Kidnapper, 2019 [La giostra degli scambi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2015]; The Other End of the Line (2019) [L’altro capo del filo, Palermo, Sellerio, 2016]; La rete di protezione, Palermo, Sellerio, 2017; Il metodo Catalanotti, Palermo, Sellerio, 2018; Il cuoco dell’Alcyon, Palermo, Sellerio, 2019; and Riccardino (inedito).

About the Translator: Stephen Sartarelli was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 5, 1954. He holds a BA in literature and languages from Antioch College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University. Sartarelli is the author of three books of poetry: The Open Vault (Spuyten Duyvil, 2001), The Runaway Woods (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000), and Grievances and Other Poems(Gnosis Press, 1989). He has translated over forty books of fiction and poetry from the Italian and French, including The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini(University of Chicago Press, 2014), which received the 2016 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize. About Sartarelli’s winning translation, judges Antonello Borra and Alessandro Carrera write: “Thanks to Stephen Sartarelli’s magnificent volume, flawless translation and sound scholarly apparatus, the English-speaking readership will now be aware that Pier Paolo Pasolini was as great as a poet, and possibly even greater, as he was a filmmaker. Not only does Sartarelli intelligently select and elegantly translate from Pasolini’s poetic opus, he also gives us a clear, informed introduction, a useful, concise set of notes, and an essential bibliography. This book is a must have for both scholars and lovers of poetry alike.” Sartarelli’s other honors include the International Dagger Award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, the John Florio Prize from the British Society of Authors, and the Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize for Songbook: Selected Poems of Umberto Saba in 2001. He has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the ongoing translation of Horcynus Orca by Stefano D’Arrigo, originally published in 1975. Sartarelli currently lives in the Périgord region of South West France with his wife, the painter Sophie Hawkes. (Source: https://www.poets.org)

Game of Mirrors has several reviews at Leer sin prisa (in Spanish), Crime Review UK, reviewingtheevidence, the crime segments, and The Bookbag among others.

Pan MacMillan publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Sellerio publicity page

Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series

audible

El juego de los espejos de Andrea Camilleri

Primer párrafo: Llevaba unas dos horas sentado, como Dios lo había traído al mundo, en una especie de silla peligrosamente parecida a una silla eléctrica. Le rodeaban las muñecas y los tobillos unas argollas de hierro de las que salían manojos de cables que iban a parar a un armario metálico decorado con cuadrantes, manómetros, amperímetros, barómetros y luces —verdes, rojas, amarillas y azules— que se encendían y se apagaban sin cesar. En la cabeza llevaba un casco idéntico al que los peluqueros ponen a las señoras para hacerles la permanente, pero éste estaba unido al armario por un grueso cable negro dentro del cual había centenares de hilos de colores. (Traducción del italiano de Teresa Clavel Lledó)

Sinopsis: La explosión de un pequeño artefacto frente a un almacén vacío, en pleno centro de Vigàta, y la consiguiente investigación puesta en marcha por el comisario Montalbano y su equipo, precipitan una serie de acontecimientos que se suceden de forma caótica y vertiginosa: pistas contradictorias, cartas anónimas, delaciones misteriosas… Montalbano tiene la sensación de que alguien pretende guiar sus pasos, confundirlo y manejarlo como si fuera una marioneta, alejándolo de la verdad de los hechos. Y cuando además entra en escena Liliana, su nueva vecina, una mujer de rompe y rasga cuyo marido se halla a menudo ausente por razones de trabajo, Salvo se encontrará inmerso en un mar de confusión que dificultará su trabajo más allá de lo tolerable. Realidad e ilusión se confunden en esta última entrega del comisario Salvo Montalbano, en la que Andrea Camilleri rememora la magistral escena de los espejos de La dama de Shanghai, de Orson Welles, en la que sólo una de las imágenes es la auténtica. Para escapar de este laberinto de reflejos, Montalbano habrá de recurrir a su veteranía y su finísima intuición, sin perder nunca el irreverente sentido del humor que lo caracteriza.

Mi opinión: El juego de los espejos es el decimoctavo libro de los misterios del inspector Montalbano de Camilleri. Se publicó por primera vez en 2010, cuando Camilleri tenía aproximadamente ochenta y cinco años y, lo que es aún más sorprendente, nueve años después, Camilleri continúa escribiendo y publicando un nuevo episodio de la serie cada año. Mi admiración por esta serie de libros comenzó a desarrollarse hace unos diez años al leer Ardor de Agosto (Comisario Montalbano #10). Desde entonces, he leído la mayoría de sus libros traducidos hasta ahora, ya sea en inglés o en español. En cierto sentido, siempre encontré reconfortante encontrarme con los mismos personajes a los que ya considero viejos amigos: Livia, su eterna prometida, Enzo, el dueño de su Trattoria, sus colegas Mimì Augello, Fazio, Galluzzo y Catarella, su amigo el periodista Nicolo Zito, el Dr. Pasquano y muchos otros.

En este caso, la acción comienza cuando Montalbano intenta ayudar a una dama en apuros. La dama en cuestión es su vecina, la impresionante signora Liliana Lombardo, cuyo auto se niega a arrancar una mañana. Gentilmente, Montalbano se ofrece voluntario para llevarla en su coche, lamentablemente sus habilidades como mecánico de automóviles son nulas. En cualquier caso, no le habrían ayudado mucho, dado que el motor había sido destrozado, un hecho que la Signora Lombardo desea ocultar a Montalbano, a quien parece extraño que ni siquiera quiera denunciarlo. Casi simultáneamente hay una explosión frente a un almacén vacío que, afortunadamente, no deja heridos. Las dos historias se desarrollan sin una relación aparente, aunque lo que sucede después, siempre parece estar dirigido a ocultar algo, como en un juego de espejos.

Probablemente en esta entrega, se hace más evidente la fórmula empleada por Camilleri para producir cada año un libro más. Aunque a pesar de eso, la historia resulta ser muy interesante y está perfectamente elaborada. También es cierto que los personajes no han evolucionado mucho a lo largo de la serie y permanecen con pocos cambios desde el primer libro. Sin embargo, vale la pena mencionar en esta entrega que, durante gran parte de la historia, la acción se desarrolla a un ritmo suave y tranquilo, hasta que Camilleri sacude la conciencia del lector con algunos crímenes horrendos. Después de todo estamos en territorio mafioso. Incluso con sus defectos, no hay nada que nos impida disfrutar la lectura de este libro. Pero en general, quizás John Grant haya encontrado las palabras adecuadas para expresar lo que siento al decir que, aunque disfrutara del pescado empanado y la verdura fresca que cenó anoche, simplemente no lo querría todos los días. Solo encuentre la dosis correcta para usted y disfrute de esta serie.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Andrea Camilleri nació en 1925 en Porto Empedocle, provincia de Agrigento, Sicilia, y actualmente vive en Roma, donde impartió clases en la Academia de Arte Dramático. Durante cuarenta años fue guionista y director de teatro y televisión. En 1994 crea el personaje de Salvo Montalbano, el entrañable comisario siciliano protagonista de una serie que en la actualidad consta de veintiséis novelas. Todos sus libros ocupan habitualmente el primer puesto en las principales listas de éxitos italianas. Andrea Camilleri es hoy el escritor más popular de Italia y uno de los más leídos de Europa. En 2014 fue galardonado con el IX Premio Pepe Carvalho. (Fuente: Ediciones Salamandra)

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