“Dreamy” is an appropriate adjective for this wisp of novel. It is misty & poetic, with lovel moments. But it lacked the substance I like to round out my poetry & romance.
Loosely based on Pellegrino Turri’s invention of the typewriter – very loosely – this novel focuses on the young recipient of that typewriter, the countess Carolina. Events revolve mostly around her journey into blindness, her world shrinking as she loses her peripheral vision, dwindling to a small window of sight, to finally nothing. The most evocative, most interesting passages are those that deal with this – I felt drawn into these portions, feeling the terror, the sense of loss, the treasuring of what remains for as long as it remains, and then the way Carolina chose to interact with the newly dark world around her. How different to choose what colors things are in the room around you, to always be remembering the furniture, the faces of people – to have someone refer to your father as old when you never saw him look that way. Wallace’s lyrical writing is a perfect fit for this theme.
I found that lyricism less enjoyable in other places, however. Carolina’s world is so small even before blindness, with barely any mention of friends or even the world outside her estate, that I wasn’t particularly drawn to her as a person.