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It's Getting Later All the Time (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Tra edition (May 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215466
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,017,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This epistolary novel is composed of 18 love letters; the fictional authors are 17 men and one woman, whose sweeping, summative voice closes the collection abruptly. Are all the letters addressed to her? Does she even exist? There are no names—she is, variously My dear; My love; My sweet Ophelia (a nickname), among other second-person addresses. Written from places all over Europe, the letters are intimate and often exquisite, lingering over transcendent details of landscape, or ruefully soliloquizing on memory. One rancorous letter, "A Good Man Like You," recalls a betrayal seven years in the past, while another contemplates a journey never taken: "Do you remember when we didn't go to Samarkand?" The whole makes for delicious voyeurism, leavened with pointed bafflement at these partially rendered relationships: just as the reader wishes for all the gaps to be filled in, the letter writers wish to re-compose fractured relationships. (May)
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Review

the impermanence and the frustrations of romantic love are evoked with sly wit and operatic brio. -- Kirkus Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Lovers of experimental literary fiction will celebrate this newly translated novel by "the most respected name in Italian fiction of the past twenty years." Antonio Tabucchi, winner of numerous European prizes and translated into eighteen languages, stretches the limits of narrative as he traces his characters' searches for meaning, especially through their relationships with other people. Episodes from his own life provide inspiration and narrative context for those timely moments which reveal his characters' emotional crises.

Seventeen different men write letters to the women who have dominated their lives, and as each man reminisces about his life and love, he reveals the circumstances of the inevitable breakup and how the broken relationship has haunted him for years ever after. The eighteenth letter is written by a woman, a grand finale addressed to the men severally, which offers advice and puts their experiences into a wider context.

The speakers live throughout Europe--on a Greek island, along a river in Italy, and in Paris (with a side trip to Brazil), and one speaker has "not made" a journey to Samarkand (Uzbekistan). They include a theatre director, a dying man, an architect, a faculty member, a Jewish harpist who escaped the war, a character actor, a composer, and a widower with two children. Each wrestles with a love story from the past and its continuing effect on his present.

Impressionistic and poetic, this novel is not a narrative in the traditional sense. Abstract ideas and images, sometimes dream-like and sometimes nightmarish, reveal life's suffering. More a series of memoirs or first-person stories than a novel, the book examines our differing concepts of time and our different reactions to the past at various points in our lives.
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As a longtime fan of Tabucchi's I eagerly ordered this book but ultimately found it less satisfying than many of his earlier efforts. To me the short story and the novella are really Tabucchi's fortes.

Tabucchi is interested in the ways we search for our identities through narrative (or in encounters with various others who provide us with some kind of mirror) but his pet theme does not seem to be especially well served by the epistolary format. There is simply not enough (or any) differentiation between the various authors of these individual letters and after about the fourth letter one begins to feel a sense of repetitiveness/redundancy (all the letters seemingly coming from the same mind with the same obsessive interest in catching a glimpse of the self and all inevitably losing momentum after an initial intellectual or emotional burst of energy).

Individual passages are more impressive than the overall book. Though this doesn't reach the same literary heights as some of Tabucchi's other books, this still might be Tabucchi's most quotable book simply because of the sheer number of passages wherein the author (through the persona of various characters) directly discusses writing itself. Though I underlined many of these passages and value them greatly, the individual letters and their undifferentiated fictional authors fade from thought almost immediately after reading. It's the meditations on writing as preserver and creator of memory and meaning that linger.

Will appeal to readers who like writing about writing. Each letter has at least one passage, like the following two examples, wherein the author interrogates the writing process itself:

"They are stories without any logic, first of all.
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