The fox in literature is a cunning creature of cleverness and wisdom. In his book ‘Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art’ Lewis Hyde observes the symbolism of the fox: ‘Folklore about foxes has it that a fox, pursued by the hounds, will sometimes run a distance and then double back on its own tracks; when the hounds come to the place where the fox turned they are flummoxed and wander around barking at one another.’ It is this pattern, sewn like layered stitches that ricochet back and forth that we see so expertly handled and tricksily explored in Paula Cocozza’s debut novel ‘How To Be Human’. Continue reading How To Be Human by Paula Cocozza Review
Tom Barren comes from the world we were supposed to have. One where if you have a black eye you have a home medical drone ice it; if you get a cut, medical technicians help you with skin-regeneration lamps; the streets are filled with buildings that are ‘encased in landscape emulators to give you the view you’d have if no other structures existed to block it’. But something goes wrong. Continue reading All Our Wrong Todays Review
Literature is full of ‘doubles’: characters who seem to move in tandem; or twins, whose familial bond and similarities are frequently employed for farcical effect. In Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, for example, the sense of a clear identity becomes a tangled mess as Viola, in disguise as a boy called Cesario, falls in love with Duke Orsino, who loves Olivia; Viola has to deliver Orsino’s love letters to Olivia, who quickly falls in love with her as Cesario. Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother who she thought had died, enters on stage, and Olivia is soon smitten with him.
Where was I?
The High Mountains of Portugal is comprised of three stories whose connection become clear throughout the book: the first, and strongest in my opinion, features Tomás in 1904 who discovers a journal, untouched since it was written by a Father Ulisses in the mid-seventeenth century, which details an object that he has made. Tomás makes it his mission to find the object. It chronicles his journey (in one of the very first Renault cars) through the high mountains of Portugal.
Pietro is our protagonist who has recently taken a job as the concierge in a condominium in Milan, late in life. Although defining his character as merely a ‘concierge’ perhaps simplifies his role. He eagerly integrates into the occupants’ colourful lives in the flat: Poppi, (an aptly plosive) teasing and rambunctious lawyer; Paola and her autistic 20-something year old son Fernando. And, of particular interest, the Martini family: Luca, a doctor, his wife Viola and their small child Sara. In his capacity as concierge he has free reign to roam the corridors… and cross thresholds.