Italian Shoes (Vintage)

by Henning Mankell | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0307472248 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingvalpetewing of Walnut Creek, California USA on 5/21/2011
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingvalpetewing from Walnut Creek, California USA on Saturday, May 21, 2011
Sending this across the Pond to start a Ray.

Journal Entry 2 by wingvalpetewing at Walnut Creek, California USA on Saturday, May 21, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (5/23/2011 UTC) at Walnut Creek, California USA

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Starting a Ray. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 3 by mafarrimond at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Next to be read! I have just returned from Hay Book Festival where I attended a talk by Henning Mankell - he was brilliant.

Journal Entry 4 by mafarrimond at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, June 04, 2011
I usually associate Henning Mankell with crime novels - which I love. This took me by surprise. A beautiful story about old age and reflections on past loves and lifes.

One of the best books I have read so far this year.

Journal Entry 5 by mafarrimond at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, June 11, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (6/11/2011 UTC) at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom

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Posted to Icila. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Journal Entry 6 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Arrived safely into its nice mailbag. Thank you mafarrimond !

(Walnut Creek, what a beautiful city-name valpete, makes me dream.)

Journal Entry 7 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Sunday, August 14, 2011
I'm just finished with the book and I deeply enjoyed it. So far I had only read the Kurt Wallander serie and I'm not disappointed. I 'm looking forward to readind again from Henning Mankell.

Journal Entry 8 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Tuesday, August 16, 2011
New ray :

- okyrhoe (Greece) > INT
- Tinina67 (FR) > INT
- PJLBewdy (AUS) > INT
- Agrace (US) > US

Journal Entry 9 by wingIcilawing at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France on Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Released 8 yrs ago (8/23/2011 UTC) at La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Pays de la Loire France

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On its way to Greece.

Journal Entry 10 by okyrhoe at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Arrived in Athens. Thanks Icila!

Journal Entry 11 by okyrhoe at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Tuesday, September 13, 2011
What I knew of Henning Mankell prior to reading this novel is limited to a Greek TV interview (parts 1, 2, and 3 here – the interview itself is in English, so feel free to watch) and also the various essays he’s published related to his activism in Mozambique and Palestine.
To a certain extent, therefore, as I read I was comparing the protagonist & narrator of Italian Shoes to the author himself. This is not to say that the novel is autobiographical, but there are specific themes in Italian Shoes that I recognized as being rooted in Mankell’s life history.
I would characterize this book as a very readable novel of introspection, in which a elderly man ponders his past and tries to come to term with himself, after a decade or so of living in isolation in a remote part of cold and wintry Sweden.
The retired physican Welin has only his immediate surrounds for company. His daily routine, as well as his mood and temperament, follows the seasonal changes in the landscape and the weather. The very presence of other human beings disturbs him profoundly. Other moving life forms are barely tolerated. It seems he takes a stronger liking to dead creatures & to insects, than to his own pets. And when the pets themselves die or disappear, it’s only then that he is able to express some concern for their existence (or not). Fortunately the narrator is a man of little words, as the brief notations in his logbook attest, and the reader isn’t assaulted by too heavy a dose of misanthropy.
When unexpected events disrupt Welin’s safe routine, he is forced to explain the whos, whys, whens and wherefores of his past. This is achieved in a factual and direct exposition so the timeline is easy to follow. Despite the ever-increasing eccentricity of the characters that enter the scene and move the story forward, the narrative follows a natural progression, and is presented in a laconic, straightforward manner. Welin is a retired doctor, this matter-of-fact narrative is typical of his persona.
It is this terseness that makes the novel readable; the pace progresses quickly, there are no drawn out meditations, convoluted flashbacks, or lengthy discussions between the characters slowing down an understanding of what is going on. Rather atypical of the detective fiction genre, for which Mankell is best known for.
This direct and straightforward exposition reminds me more of American fiction than anything else. Instead of the Scandinavian terrain, this story could easily be transposed to the rugged North American landscape. All the characters could very well be American or Canadian. I’m not saying that there is a lack of “Swedishness” or “Europeanness” to the novel. Loners are a staple of American fiction writing (the characters, as well as the authors themselves) and that's another element in the novel's readability score (at least for readers of American fiction). Likewise, the mirroring & interaction between the “loner” characters and their (usually remote) natural environment is a device & theme often found in contemporary American literature, more so than in the traditions of European literature.
In Italian Shoes Welin discovers he is not the only loner in his immediate family, and that there is some, if not valuable, comfort to be had in the company of strangers. I can't say I was drawn to the protagonist, nor did I find him particularly interesting. To what extent does Welin evolve by the story's end - does he act from the heart or out of necessity, when he realizes he cannot be self-sufficient anymore in his reclusive abode? Welin remains laconic to the end, without revealing his true motivations.

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Waiting for a PM from the next reader to post the book.

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UPDATE October 4 : Sent a second PM to Tinina67

Journal Entry 12 by okyrhoe at Bookring, By Post -- Controlled Releases on Friday, October 07, 2011

Released 7 yrs ago (10/7/2011 UTC) at Bookring, By Post -- Controlled Releases

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On its way by post to Tinina67. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 13 by Tinina67 at Seissan, Midi-Pyrénées France on Monday, October 17, 2011
This book arrived safe and sound!
On top of my tbr shelf...
and thanks for including me!

Journal Entry 14 by Tinina67 at Seissan, Midi-Pyrénées France on Wednesday, November 09, 2011
So what did I think? I enjoyed the prose, the words, the style...but it just didn't grab my attention enough. I know I am more a crime/adventure/fast book reader, but from time to time I like to try something different. Sometimes I find a gem...this was more a rhinestone...
Thanks for including me.
I will send it on asap.

On its way to Australia - travel safe and enjoy the book!

Journal Entry 15 by PJLBewdy at Smiths Lake, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, December 01, 2011
Received today - thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to reading it. I've read a couple in the Wallander series but this is something different.

Journal Entry 16 by PJLBewdy at Smiths Lake, New South Wales Australia on Monday, January 02, 2012
A very well written account of a solitary man rediscovering his humanity. Good stuff!

Journal Entry 17 by PJLBewdy at Smiths Lake, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, January 05, 2012

Released 7 yrs ago (1/6/2012 UTC) at Smiths Lake, New South Wales Australia

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What a great book - off it goes to Texas - hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 18 by Agrace at Frisco, Texas USA on Sunday, January 15, 2012
Arrived today just as I finished another ring.

Journal Entry 19 by Agrace at Frisco, Texas USA on Saturday, January 21, 2012
I enjoyed the book and hope to get my husband to read it as it is the kind of book he and I could spend hours talking about.

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