I was lucky enough to inherit quite a few books from my grandparents. They are a treasure I will cherish till my dying breath. I can’t help but wonder… how did they feel when they read this for the first time? Did they come back to it for some reason? Was it perhaps a favourite? How did they find the author? What led to choosing this one over another? Sadly, most of these questions will remain unanswered. One can try to come up with theories, though. And they are rather lovely, you know? For even if long gone, even if always here, they are, for a moment, closer. Not just in your blood, not just in the way you are, but in your mind, alive in your thoughts, but closer.
This one in particular belonged to my grandfather. According to the note on the very first page, he bought it in 1958. And here it stands, now, many years later, in my hands. The pages are yellow, stained by a life that goes beyond its characters. The smell? Palpable wisdom. That’s it.
This is my very first Korolenko. According to my grandmother, and to the amount of books I now own by the same author, he was a favourite in the household. I can definitely see why.
The way Korolenko describes the power of sound is astounding. There’s magic in his descriptions. Both the boy’s as he listens to the world that surrounds him, getting to know it, and Jokhime’s as he finds a way of getting lost in himself by creating a flute that allows him to turn his soul into music. And the softness of Uncle Maximo’s crudeness! You can feel it. All of it. Ah, the wonders of an author that sees the sound of his words, that knows them as the old friends they have become.
I would say my favourite part, even though I absolutely adored the whole book, is when Uncle Maximo is explaining, is showing, Pedro the different colours. It broke my heart. Truly a breathtaking scene. For some reason it made me think of all the things we take for granted… made me close my eyes and feel the colours myself.
The writing in itself reminds me of music, its constant metaphors and analogies the lyrics to an enchanting rhythm that lulls us back into existing at the tip of our fingers.
It might be because this book and I have a lot of history, even if we only just came across one another, but I found it to be absolutely glorious. This review is my attempt at a standing ovation.