Summer readingPosted: August 19, 2012
Without a doubt, the best book I read the summer is Running by Jean Echenoz, but his two other biographical novellas, are also worth mentioning.
Running, Lightening and Ravel are three novellas by the French author Jean Echenoz (B. 1946). Each slim volume is about 120 pages long. The style is not quite as minimalist as it is subtle.
Running tells the story of Czech runner Emil Zatopek, who began running at the cusp of World War II and ran through communist Czechoslovakia, through the spring of Prague, through imprisonment and forced labor, and finally lived to see the collapse of the Berlin wall, all the time running between glory and survival.
Lightening focuses on the life Nikola Tesla, underappreciated genius whose end was all but inevitable given his disturbed personality.
Ravel, tellingly from the title, brings us the last ten years in the life of this French composer, who much to his own chagrin, was made famous to the world for the one composition is regarded the least, the Bolero.
Echenoz’s portraits of these three people are distanced, sober and loving. Both their genius and faults are appreciated. Zatopek is focused on his running, Tesla on his obsessions and Ravel on his image. Their struggles were heart wrenching, yet different and as a reader I responded to each character and his personality.