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Free Day
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
24 posts | 15 read | 1 reading | 5 to read
A haunting and powerful portrait of a young French girl, and her desire to escape the world in which she is born, without losing her identity In the marshy, misty countryside of southwestern France, fourteen-year-old Galla rides her battered bicycle from the private Catholic high school she attends on scholarship to the rocky, barren farm where her family lives. It's a journey she makes every two weeks, forty miles round trip, traveling between opposite poles of ambition and guilt, school and home. Galla's loving, overwhelmed, incompetent mother doesn't want her to go to school; she wants her to stay at home, where Galla can look after her neglected little sisters, defuse her father's brutal rages, and help with the chores. What does this dutiful daughter owe her family, and what does she owe herself? In Ins Cagnati's haunting, emotionally and visually powerful novel Free Day, which won France's Prix Roger Nimier in 1973, Galla makes an extra journey on a frigid winter Saturday to surprise her mother. As she anticipates their reunion, stopping often to pry caked, gelid mud off her bicycle wheels, she mentally retraces the crooked path of her family's past and the more recent map of her school life as a poor but proud student. Galla's rich, dense interior monologue blends with the landscape around her, building a powerful portrait of a girl who yearns to liberate herself from the circumstances that confine her, without losing their ties to her heart.
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vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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I could have used a few books for today's prompt, but I immediately thought of the tagged book read for #NYRBBookClub For some reason the passage about the multicolored #scarf that our narrator's friend bought her always stuck with me. It was a splash of color in an otherwise relentlessly bleak book. This book has continued to stay with me since reading it, one of the surprises of the year. #GratefulHarvest @eggs @alwaysbeenaloverofbooks

Leftcoastzen Nice pick ! I think of it too , haunted by it. 2w
Eggs Beautiful 🧣🙌🏻 2w
58 likes2 comments
review
sarahbarnes
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

I‘m so sorry to have missed the discussion this month! This little book broke my heart. 💔 I think the author very effectively portrayed the effects of trauma through Galla‘s character and voice. So beautiful and so sad. @mklong @vivastory

vivastory No worries. I hope you had a good birthday! I agree, this one was really devastating. One of the bleakest books I've read published by NYRB 3mo
merelybookish I forgot your birthday! 🙁 And I knew you're a Virgo! 3mo
BarbaraBB I felt the same. Sad but so good. 3mo
29 likes3 comments
review
Billypar
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Mehso-so

#nyrbbookclub
Sorry to have missed the discussion, but it was great to read what everyone thought. I was ambivalent: on the one hand, I loved the voice of Galla, sarcasm, bitterness, and all. She was allergic to hypocrisy in adults and even with all of the misfortunes she faced, she still maintained a resilient spirit. I only wished the narrative moved a little more: it had the feel of an overlong short story rather than a short novel.

vivastory Wonderful review. I really hope that NYRB publishes more Cagnati, so I can see what her other work is like. I think you are going to really like the September selection. 3mo
batsy I hear you! I was torn between a so-so and pick for this, but went with the latter because of how the ending made me reconsider certain aspects. 3mo
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Billypar @vivastory I would read another Cagnati - I enjoyed her style, so I could imagine really liking one with a little more story to it. Looking forward to September's selection: seems like it couldn't be more different than the one we just finished! 3mo
Billypar @batsy Yes that's true - I did like the ending! I also agree with those comments appreciating how Fanny was really a good friend. It was a relief in a novel so bleak. I didn't think she was imaginary, but I thought it was leading up to some sort of betrayal, which would have been too depressing. 3mo
batsy @Billypar Me too! I was in dread of a potential betrayal 😥 3mo
34 likes6 comments
blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Translator Schillinger writes, “Translating Galla‘s idiom was extremely challenging; she was writing in French; but her first language—like Cagnati‘s—was Italian. That guided and narrowed the breadth of her expression, which, I think, focused and concentrated the authenticity of her voice.“ What challenges do you think that an author faces when not writing in their native language? What unexpected advantages might they have?

#NYRBBookClub

BarbaraBB It might added to the aloofness I felt in the writing. I noticed something similar is this book that Lahiri wrote in Italian fist 3mo
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mklong @barbarabb It's interesting that you mention Whereabouts. I read these books back to back and noticed the same detachment that you did, while of course the stories were completely different. I think in some ways the distance created by the translation adds to Galla's sense of otherness 3mo
vivastory I think that Cagnati managed to express these challenges in a very interesting way in Free Day. Especially when Galla becomes emotionally overwhelmed & the only way that she is able to express herself is by singing. I'd be curious to see what the style of her other books is like. According to interviews I have read she published only a few novels during her lifetime. 3mo
quietjenn @vivastory great point about her being emotionally overwhelmed/singing! 3mo
quietjenn It's interesting to ponder and it makes me wish I had more experience with languages to offer better insight! I think the observations made by @barbarabb and @mklong are true. There's necessarily a bit of remove and I feel like maybe it tamps down the emotional expression as well? 3mo
Liz_M Writing in a second language in a way means a double translation. The author might not have as extensive a vocabulary and may be unable to express nuances and perhaps even is mistranslating words. But it might also be contributing to the child-like narration, the story told in simpler language. 3mo
merelybookish Yes as @Liz_M said, I wonder if it helped her capture a child's voice better. 3mo
batsy Great point @BarbaraBB that was my first thought. At times reading Whereabouts I felt like I was reading something that came off almost child-like in its tone, but it felt like how an adult would imagine a child. Here of course the narrator is a child, so that works, but again I felt the prose to be awkward at times. I did sense that maybe here the English translation was a bit of a limitation... 3mo
GatheringBooks I do feel sometimes that I am missing out on great literature because of my limitations with languages allowing me to only read texts in English or Filipino. I agree with the points mentioned above, that writing in a second or third language provided a certain kind of distance, it could also be the fact that in Cagnati‘s case it is almost thrice translated - Italian speaker writing in French translated to English. 3mo
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mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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It has been widely noted that the immigrant experience & poverty are Cagnati's two great concerns, esp. in Free Day. How is her experience of poverty different when she is at school?

#NYRBBookClub

@vivastory

BarbaraBB Even with her poor clothing she is accepted at school for who whe is. At school she can express herself and she is obviously clever. She is appreciated and feels safe especially when she befriends Fanny. (edited) 3mo
mklong @barbarabb Yes! I was convinced that Fanny was another of her lies or the stories that she makes up for herself. I was so happy when Galla got to school and Fanny was real! Fanny is kind to her, but it didn't seem to me that the rest of the students or teachers accepted her. Remember the teacher who called her the “green cretin“ because of her blouse? 3mo
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BarbaraBB That‘s true but they were kind when her mother died and especially that teacher were she recited her poem. 3mo
BarbaraBB And yes I also thought that Fanny was an imaginary friend and really happy when she turned out to be real - and kind! 3mo
vivastory There seems to be split in articles online as to if FD is more about the immigrant experience or about poverty & the more I have thought about it, I think that the either/or is not a good way of looking at it. I think that it's concerned with both themes. Although Galla initially receives detention for not having the right school uniform she is not really outwardly bullied at school, esp once befriending Fanny. 3mo
quietjenn I feel like her experiences at school make her more aware of her poverty and how not like the others she is. When she is at home, things are just the way they are and when you're a kid, you may feel the hunger or the cold or the neglect or whatever, but you don't necessarily know that those experiences make you different. It's just how things are. In school, she sees that life she knows isn't true of everyone. 3mo
quietjenn @mklong I'm with you, in that I don't think the others really accepted her, except for Franny. When Franny comes and embraces her, the others become more tolerant, at best. They are kind and sympathetic to her at the end, but they feels very situational. 3mo
vivastory @quietjenn I agree that Galla isn't as aware of he rpoverty until she is at the school. I forget the exact line (I wish I had written it down, it was such a great line) but when she talks about having to wear her dead relative's clothing she says something along the lines of “People don't realize that poverty means wearing other people's clothes“ 3mo
Reviewsbylola I think Galla has othered herself so much that it wouldn‘t matter where she was. She has closed herself off because she feels herself unworthy. I felt that the staff and students mostly just ignored her. I agree with @quietjenn that being at school makes Galla more aware of her upbringing. 3mo
emilyhaldi @mklong @BarbaraBB funny, I was also convinced that Fanny was imaginary/ a fantasy character of Galla‘s… I suppose Fanny made Galla hyper aware of how sad her life was in contrast. But it‘s interesting to me that she didn‘t direct any of her anger towards Fanny for being so beautiful/happy- she truly seemed to be in awe of her and how good life could be in more fortunate circumstances. 3mo
Liz_M In many ways, poverty is relative. If every one you know and interact with wears hand me downs, doesn't have enough food and the entire family sleeps on one bed, you are socially and culturally equal. But if you are the only person that doesn't have a pink apron, and the only one that doesn't have family come to pick you up from school for the weekend/ holidays etc, then you realize you're poor. 3mo
Liz_M I think Galla didn't realize the extent of her families poverty until she went to school. And because of this even if the other kids were nice to her (I am not sure that they were), she didn't fit in, didn't allow herself to fit in. Franny is the only person Galla is comfortable talking to and yet she only tells her stories and lies. 3mo
batsy @quietjenn I agree. I think being at school really hammers home the reality for Galla. The way she appears, the very way her family exists in a different reality to her classmates, becomes more pronounced. 3mo
batsy @Liz_M Nicely put! Yes, that's how it felt to me as well. 3mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory I find it interesting that there is a split as to whether Cagnati was writing about immigrant experience or poverty, given the hybridities of our social identities as can be clearly seen in the framework of intersectionality. This is one classic example of intersecting social identities with Galla coming from an abusive disadvantaged background who are foreigners in a city that largely marginalizes them. 3mo
GatheringBooks @quietjenn @mklong I definitely agree with both of you about Galla feeling estranged from her schoolmates and teachers. She was treated with condescension and benign cruelty. Galla‘s strong spirit recognizes this and refuses to be an object of pity and derision, hence the lies, fantasy world, and the overarching resentment felt thruout the narrative - weapons of the weak and marginalized. 3mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks I completely agree with your comment about the hybridity of our social identities. I agree that to divide the framework into an argument of immigrant vs poverty completely misses the point 3mo
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blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Galla believes that beauty comes from being loved. She believes that Fanny is beautiful because her parents love her and she is not because she is unwanted. A more traditional view would be the reverse, that we love things that are beautiful. What does it tell us about Galla that she sees beauty this way? And where do you think the idea came from?

#NYRBBookClub

@vivastory

BarbaraBB That is an interesting question. Maybe because she experiences a bit of beauty herself when she is at school and is appreciated. When she is actually seen and acknowledged. 3mo
quietjenn That's hard. Maybe she equates beauty with love because both are so lacking in her own life, so when she sees them in others, they get all jumbled up together? 3mo
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Leftcoastzen I think there is an interesting logic to it .maybe thinking, that love, care , not worrying about things in life, stability, leads one to bloom or reach their best potential,in a sense that is beautiful. 3mo
BarbaraBB @Leftcoastzen That certainly makes sense! 3mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen I like your interpretation of it 👏 3mo
Reviewsbylola That‘s a really interesting point that I hadn‘t considered. I‘ll have to think on this one a bit. 3mo
Liz_M Galla is not wrong. If you are beautiful, you are treated better, taken better care of which gives you more happiness and confidence which make you prettier. 3mo
Liz_M Galla might have learned this based on how she was treated. Bring punished for not having the right clothes, being called a green cretin made her feel uglier. 3mo
batsy @Leftcoastzen Yes! I agree with this. It does seem like a very Galla-esque perspective. 3mo
batsy I found this interpretation of beauty moving and it broke my heart. Maybe beauty is always about what one doesn't have—Galla doesn't have the security of knowing she's wanted, and the facts of poverty and migration makes it seem as though people are just expendable bodies for labour. So in her eyes beauty is about being wanted for your own sake. 3mo
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blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Joanna Scutts noted in The Paris Review, “Free Day is a story stuck in a young girl's head.“ Was this beneficial or detrimental to Cagnati's novel?

#NYRBBookClub

@vivastory

BarbaraBB I think it was a rather unusual way of writing because Galla doesn‘t seem completely reliable but I can‘t pinpoint why not. My main question is how was she able to attend high school? Het parents must have made arrangements and have given her permission which is not in line of how I perceive them based on Galla‘s story. 3mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB If I recall correctly she was visited by a teacher from the school & received a scholarship to attend. 3mo
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mklong @barbarabb It surprised me that she was able to continue school as well. She does mention a teacher who facilitated her scholarship and perhaps from her parents perspective it gave them one less mouth to feed? 3mo
vivastory The psychological claustrophobia, the narrative circularity is what initially struck me about Free Day. Honestly I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first & I'm not wholly convinced that it wouldn't have benefited from interactions with one or two more characters. I think that having another character's perspective could have offered a breather, but I don't think that would have been what Cagnati intended. (edited) 3mo
Leftcoastzen @vivastory I‘m with you about the psychological claustrophobia! It‘s like the hovering doom I spoke of in my review. you have someone so young, trying to do things that make her life better. no help, no encouragement or guidance. She seems to know it‘s a balancing act.Not many good things have happened in her life .As grim as things were,I kept feeling worse things were going to happen. the author wanted that tension, other POVs would break that. 3mo
quietjenn I think both. Spending the entire time inside her head does give you, a more complete sense of who she is and the myriad of things that she's dealing with and you have insight as to why she might be or react the way she is. But it's so relentless! And at times, while I wanted to be completely sympathetic, it was a challenge because that interior dialogue - while an understandable reaction to circumstances - made it difficult. 3mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen Hovering doom is a great way to put it! Right from the beginning I just had a sense of dread, Although I had suspicions I wasn't exactly sure where it was headed & I kept hoping that things would turn out differently for Galla. 3mo
quietjenn Beyond that though, I found myself really craving and welcoming those moments of interaction with others, just to get out of that space. The term that @vivastory uses of psychological claustrophobia is such a good and apt one. 3mo
mklong @quietjenn Relentless is right! It‘s one of those novels where I appreciate that Cagnati doesn‘t give the reader a break because Galla doesn‘t get one, but I had a hard time staying in that space for so long 3mo
vivastory @mklong @quietjenn It was such a bleak, yet memorable, reading experience that I'm glad it's a shorter book 3mo
Reviewsbylola As I said in a previous comment, I think this is a skill that not many authors possess—creating an authentic child‘s voice. It was done superbly here so it definitely added to the story. 3mo
Leftcoastzen relentless is a great point too.I‘m glad it wasn‘t a longer book ! 3mo
emilyhaldi @mklong I agree with you, I think Cagnati was intentional in not giving the reader a break from poor Galla‘s inner dialogue. It was certainly successful in relaying the sense of impending doom that others mentioned. I read the book in two sittings and had a feeling of coming up for air once I was able to put it down 😓 3mo
BarbaraBB @emilyhaldi That‘s so well put. It‘s exactly how I felt after finishing it. 3mo
merelybookish Relentless, doom, dread...such accurate words describe the book! And I don't think it would have the same effect if we weren't in Galla's head! We both get her perspective and what she inadvertently reveals. I didn't think of her as unreliable but as not always aware of what she was saying. And so some things she reported as the norm were actually pretty horrifying. @quietjenn @Leftcoastzen @vivastory 3mo
batsy @vivastory This was my main issue with the novel, I think. I felt the darkness just a bit too relentless, but I guess Cagnati was uncompromising in wanting to present it that way. I was struck by Cagnati describing her own childhood as basically unhappy, and that feeling of perpetual dread, like a prison, was probably what she wanted to convey. 3mo
vivastory @Reviewsbylola I agree with you that Cagnati really excelled at reproducing a convincing child voice. Very difficult. 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish That's a very interesting point: that she's not so much unreliable but unaware. There is a definite distinction & I think that Galla is at times unaware, which can make things more complicated for the reader lacking other perspectives 3mo
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blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Galla's reactions to her mother's affection are often extreme. More than rejecting it, she often has violent reactions to it. Ex., p. 65 “'I made it for you Galla, my Galla.' Always the same words and then, just like that, I'm not hungry at all, and I want to kill the whole world so nobody will ever say things like that to me ever again.“ Why does she react this way to the only affection in her life?

#NYRBBookClub

@vivastory

BarbaraBB I think she doesn‘t think she‘s worth it to feel loved and similarly that it makes her vulnerable, which she doesn‘t allow herself to be. 3mo
vivastory I agree with @barbarabb again. I think that she had a difficult time accepting the compliments from her mother, as it made her feel vulnerable. There might have also been some misplaced resentment towards her mother because of the abusive actions of her father. 3mo
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mklong I agree with both of you @vivastory and @barbarabb about Galla‘s vulnerability but I also think it makes Galla angry that her mother‘s affection will never be enough to protect her 3mo
vivastory @mklong Esp with the ending & her having to protect her sisters. I wondered why she told Fanny the story about them dying, it seems like it was bc she knew what would happen one day 3mo
Leftcoastzen Find myself agreeing with everyone. She doesn‘t want to be vulnerable.People that grow up in certain loving homes feel protected by that love not vulnerable.I believe to an extent she believes it‘s a bait and switch to get her to stay . 3mo
quietjenn I also agree with the points made by @vivastory, @barbarabb, and @mklong. I'd add that, in addition to vulnerability, I think affection confuses her. She is so used to not feeling it that it - and the emotions it brings up - are unfamiliar and thus a little scary and overwhelming, that she can't help but lash out a little defensively. 3mo
vivastory @quietjenn That's a good point about her being confused by affection. Often when she is overwhelmed by her emotions & she expresses them through song she is criticized for expressing herself this way, which makes it even more complicated 3mo
mklong @vivastory @quietjenn Oh my, her singing when they buried her sister bc she didn‘t know what to do with her emotions, broke my little heart to pieces 3mo
mklong @vivastory I feel like her story about all of them dying was a way of reinventing herself at school. She didn‘t want to have to talk about her real family with Fanny and wanted to gain her sympathy at the same time 3mo
vivastory @mklong I see what you mean. That's a good point. 3mo
Reviewsbylola Well personally I felt that her mother was just as bad as her father. I think her mother gave her little shreds of love but it wasn‘t enough. She allowed Galla‘s father to abuse her. Letting him lock her out of the house repeatedly and then leaving the door unlocked so Galla can enter is not enough. And while I am sure everyone in the house suffered at the father‘s hand, mother is the only person they have to protect them and she doesn‘t. 3mo
Reviewsbylola So I can see why Galla is conflicted about her mother. 3mo
emilyhaldi Oof- I agree with all of the above… Galla being so triggered by feeling vulnerable and getting scraps of love that she knows won‘t make up for the overwhelming sadness she feels otherwise. This discussion is really driving home how utterly dismal this little book is!! 😭 3mo
Liz_M I don't remember that quote or part of the book, so reading it out of context it, it comes across as emotional blackmail, as if the mother is expressing the sacrifices she has made for Galla and is expecting someone in return. Perhaps the angry reaction is that of a trapped animal. 3mo
BarbaraBB @Liz_M That is a good comparison, Galla being a trapped animal. Her freedom lays in her intellectual development. 3mo
mklong @barbarabb @Liz_M @Reviewsbylola @emilyhaldi I agree with all of you. The complication of this relationship was what kept me engaged in this bleak little book. There is a lot of love, but also dependence, resentment, anger, and helplessness. 3mo
merelybookish Yes, complicated relationship! I also see her mother as a kind of punching bag. People who have experienced pain/hurt often test people's love by being cruel. How cruel can she be to her mother before she won't love her anymore? 3mo
batsy I agree with the views above but also @merelybookish brings up a good point. Something about a mother's love can bring out all kinds of (opposing) feelings. It is the most important thing for a child, but can similarly feel stifling, like a trap. 3mo
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blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Let's get this discussion going!

In the introduction, Schillinger writes, “Free Day...offers an insider's view of what it feels like to be an outsider, not only in the land in which you live but in the family to which you were born.“ Do you think that this sense of estrangement was successfully portrayed by Cagnati?

#NYRBBookClub

@vivastory

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BarbaraBB Yes I do think so. She was utterly alone and you notices the distance to her own family not only literally but also in how she writes about them. She and het sisters were just ‘tools‘ to be of help to survive and I think she felt that way herself too. (edited) 3mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I agree. The overwhelming sense of being an outsider was really powerful &I think it worked on several levels. 3mo
arubabookwoman Oh my-Why did I think the book this month was The Slynx? I purchased Free Day a while back and have read a few pages, but thought it was September's book. I will have to come back to review the discussion later this week after I read the book. Sorry! 3mo
vivastory @arubabookwoman No worries! It's a quick, if grim, read. Please weigh in with your thoughts once you finish 3mo
Leftcoastzen Yes,she was an outsider everywhere.She didn‘t really fit in at school , emotionally,I think she wished for a more connected family but with the reality of her violent father & overwhelmed mother she would be sucked into the quagmire of misery & taking care of her sisters. (edited) 3mo
quietjenn Most definitely! I think Galla's sense of estrangement or otherness - from both her family and her classmates - is one of the most effective things about the book. 3mo
Reviewsbylola 100%. Not only was the author able to expertly peel back the layers on how Galla‘s lack of support from her family and community affected her, but it was done in such a way that I truly believed this was a child‘s voice. I don‘t think authors are always so successful with that. 3mo
emilyhaldi I agree with you! @Reviewsbylola I found it to be a very realistic child‘s voice / perspective. Sometimes the simplicity of a child‘s POV can drive me mad but I found it worked in this format with the relentless repetition serving a different purpose too- enforcing that feeling of claustrophobia & impending doom. 3mo
Liz_M Yes, it was an excellent portrayal of not belonging. And is conveyed on two layers, first through the raw emotions portraying her alienation and second the reader Is made to feel like an outsider through unreliable narration, we can't really be in Galla's world because so much of the story is the bits and pieces of her made-up-world. 3mo
merelybookish @Yes, it reminded me of stories of people who leave the "hood" or the reservation to pursue a different life. They don't fully belong in the white society of school but then, after a while, they don't belong where they grew up either. 3mo
batsy Yes, agree with the comments. The alienation was well depicted and it was total. When you're an adolescent it can feel that way. 3mo
LeahBergen @mklong @vivastory I just got home from my holiday last night and I‘m still reading the book. I‘m looking forward to reading through the discussion when I‘m finished! 👍 3mo
LeahBergen @vivastory Oh! Who is next to recommend our 3 books to vote on? It‘s not me, is it? 3mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I hope you had a wonderful vacation! I'm going to send you a message on gr later today. Looking forward to your thoughts on Free Day 3mo
LeahBergen I did! Thanks. I‘ll be looking out for your message. 😄 3mo
GatheringBooks I totally did not see this discussion and so sorry to miss it. Loved everyone‘s thoughts about the complete sense of alienation and being “apart” or in the margins. That was conveyed powerfully. The fact that the entire narrative almost happened just within her head - all her indecisions with her sharp but forever vacillating mind (with a dab of resentment) and why she felt so conflicted were keenly felt. @mklong @vivastory 3mo
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review
batsy
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

Grim, dark & unsettling. Typically this would seem like the kind of book I'd absolutely love, but something about the prose style was off-putting for me at the beginning. The book only started to click about three-quarters of the way in, by which I felt for Galla & her young, abandoned, isolated self, but also tired of the way the book presented her to me. The translator's intro made me wonder if this will hit differently in the original French.

batsy The story twists a knife into the heart, & despite my resistance to its style or to its *something*, it has left quite an impression on me. Not an easy book to review or sum up at all, but it did kind of remind me of Ananda Devi's Eve out of Her Ruins. Although the books are wholly different, it lays bare the stark realities of how class shapes lives, & the costs of poverty; or rather, the costs of a world in which poverty works as a prison. 3mo
mklong Beautiful review as always! We definitely have a discussion question about the translation planned. Looking forward to more of your thoughts on it. 3mo
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BarbaraBB Beautiful review indeed. I am glad it is a pick for you in the end. The book has stuck with me for a few days now. 3mo
batsy @mklong Thank you! And thanks for organising a fantastic discussion. I'm a bit late to the party but I enjoyed reading the comments! 3mo
batsy @BarbaraBB Thank you! It was a tough read for me but it is a book that sticks with you, for sure 💔 3mo
merelybookish Why do I never see your posts?! Great review! You ended in a better place with this book than I did. I never really got past that initial discomfort/resistance. 3mo
batsy @merelybookish Thank you! It was a pretty tough read and I might have even bailed at a certain point but the way it ended really got to me. 3mo
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review
Leftcoastzen
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

#NYRBBookclub Dear Galla , poor Galla ! There is a sense of dread in this novel of a 14 year old .She is part of an immigrant family , Italian , trying to make a living on hard farmland given up on by the native French.You feel her fears dodging an angry father & a worn out mother who would have Galla care for the younger children.With handed down clothes & a beat up bike she goes to school, seeking more , but not feeling she belongs anywhere.💔

merelybookish The sense of dread....😬 3mo
Leftcoastzen @merelybookish I know , right ?! It‘s like having a cloud over you all the time. 3mo
vivastory Wonderful review as always. I agree, Cagnati did a great job portraying her feeling of being an outsider very well. 3mo
Leftcoastzen @vivastory thanks! I look forward to our club discussion, I‘ve had distractions the last 2. 3mo
batsy Nice review! I had a tough time with it, but you summed it up well. 3mo
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blurb
quietjenn
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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It's been challenging for me to get into this month's #nyrbbookclub pick. I know the discussion will be interesting though, so am going to try to block out distractions and read!

vivastory It's a quick, if unsettling, read. Looking forward to your thoughts 3mo
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review
BarbaraBB
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

Galla is 14 and the daughter of Italian immigrants in France after WWI. The family lives very isolated and under extremely poor circumstances. Galla is able to escape by getting into high school in a nearby town but every other weekend she returns to her unloving home.

The book is mostly about her loneliness. She is utterly alone throughout the book. It is a very bleak and sad read and it really touched me.

#NYRBBookClub

sarahbarnes Great review. Starting this one soon! 3mo
BarbaraBB @sarahbarnes Be prepared! It‘s a grim little book 💔 3mo
sarahbarnes Thank you for the warning! I will brace myself. 😬 3mo
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TrishB Great review, I‘ll remember if I need a grim read! 3mo
merelybookish Well said! The bleakness was too much for me. 3mo
vivastory Wonderful review! I'm glad that this one worked for you. It's relentless in the bleakness, but I think that it serves a purpose. Reminds me of Hurricane Season or Singing From the Well. Looking forward to the discussion this weekend! 3mo
BarbaraBB @merelybookish I can see why but I read a lot of relatively ‘light‘ books during my vacation and could use some bleakness 😉 3mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory I‘ll have a look at the ones you mention. And I am looking forward to our discussion too! 3mo
batsy Nicely put! I'm close to halfway through but have to admit I'm struggling with the bleakness at the moment (which surprises me, since I'm all about the gloom and doom 😂) 3mo
BarbaraBB @batsy I would have thought it‘d be right into your wheelhouse indeed 😉 3mo
emilyhaldi I love a grim book 🖤 wish I had found the time to start this earlier but might try and give it a go now anyways! 3mo
BarbaraBB @emilyhaldi It‘s quite short but do you really have time to read already? Sounds like a dream baby 😀 3mo
emilyhaldi He‘s not so bad during the day… takes some good naps. Middle of the night is another story 😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫 3mo
BarbaraBB @emilyhaldi I know 😵‍💫! Of course you should rest when he does during the day - but I know I never did. Too restless 😀😘 3mo
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review
vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

In Free Day 14 year old Galla returns home unannounced, via bicycle, to visit her mother. Galla is at a boarding school against her parents' wishes & makes the long & dangerous trip through the marshes every other weekend. She is usually greeted by her mother, who she has a complicated relationship with & also wishes to see her youngest sister Antonnella. Galla dreads seeing her father, a temperamental & abusive husband & father. When Galla👇

vivastory reaches homes she realizes that there's something wrong & as she reflects on her memories in a relentless interior monologue we soon discover how dire her circumstances are. Upon finishing this book, my reaction was mixed. There is very little interaction between Galla & others in the book & the overall tone of Free Day is quirky mixed with French Southern Gothic (?) Yet, after reading the intro & the interview at the end I can now see what 3mo
vivastory Cagnati was attempting & I think that it can be viewed as a parable of immigrant life. I do think that perhaps it would have benefited from Galla interacting with more characters. The psychological claustrophobia, the desolate landscape & the casual cruelty of some of the characters can be overwhelming, but as a portrait of someone who is in an impossible situation this is surely Cagnati's point? This is one I will have to mull over for a bit. 3mo
vivastory Pic credits: Remedios Varo paintings. As always I look forward to the discussion next Sat! I think that this one will be an especially interesting book to discuss, multi-layered & uncomfortable as it is! #NYRBBookClub @mklong
(edited) 3mo
See All 15 Comments
batsy Great review. I'm only at the beginning; I'll be interested to see how I feel about it by the end. Right now it's intriguing but a bit grim. 3mo
vivastory @batsy Thanks! I found the intro & the interview really clarified my thoughts on it. I also found a couple of interesting articles online 3mo
vivastory @batsy I meant to add, I agree wholeheartedly about it being grim 3mo
BarbaraBB Great review. I am starting today as well. 3mo
BarbaraBB Should I read the intro before I start it not? 3mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I don't recall the intro containing spoilers. I think that some the historical info might be useful 3mo
youneverarrived Great review, I‘m almost finished. I think I‘ll have to read the introduction again after finishing. I was expecting it to be more overtly about immigrant life. I‘m really liking it though! 3mo
vivastory @youneverarrived It's a very strange book. It is realistic, but the realities are so bleak that it takes on an almost mythical quality. I think that it's as much about poverty as the immigrant experience. 3mo
merelybookish Thank you for framing it as a parable. It gives me another angle on it. I thought the writing was beautiful but so, so bleak. I felt so dispirited by the end, I barely skimmed the interview and didnt bother with the intro. 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish It's rare that my opinion changes after reading an intro. There was some historical context for the book that I was simply unaware of, but I agree with you that it does feel very bleak. If you're interested the entire intro is available here:
https://lithub.com/ines-cagnati-the-insider-who-always-felt-like-an-outsider/
3mo
vivastory @merelybookish This book actually reminded me a bit of Reinaldo Arenas' Singing From the Well now that I've thought about it (edited) 3mo
Klamm Great review - makes me want to read this 3mo
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vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
This post contains spoilers
show me
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This is the poem that Galla recites parts of at the end. I was a bit baffled as to how I felt about the book, but after I read the introduction & the interview I have a much better idea of the book. #NYRBBookClub

DrexEdit I'm reading it now. I do like it so far! Thanks for posting this poem. 3mo
vivastory @DrexEdit I'm glad to hear that you're liking it! It's an intriguing, if often uncomfortable, experience. Cagnati makes an interesting comment about having poems towards the backs of her books in the interview which I found to be worth reading 3mo
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review
sisilia
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

4⭐️ Oh Galla, I want to give you a hug! ? She is an outsider at school and at her own home. I love Galla‘s voice as a child‘s perspective of rural poverty, solitude, violence and cruelty. Inès Cagnati disclosed enough to invoke the pain but didn‘t go that far to smash the nerves; and with that, I‘m left here in agony, thinking about Galla

shawnmooney I'm intrigued! 4mo
sisilia @shawnmooney Perfect for WIT month 4mo
74 likes2 comments
review
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Pickpick

Well, this one is a total downer. A well written one, but depressing stuff all the same. I‘m sure it will give us plenty to discuss and I hope to be finished drying my tears by the time we talk about it!

#NYRBBookClub

vivastory I can't wait to read this one. I love your wallpaper btw! 4mo
45 likes1 comment
review
merelybookish
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Mehso-so
mklong Uh oh 4mo
merelybookish @mklong I was caught between pick and so-so. Beautiful writing but lots of violence and pain. Will be interested to see what other make of it! 4mo
mklong I‘ve just finished and see what you mean. It is brutal! 4mo
See All 6 Comments
merelybookish @mklong I had a feeling the mother was dead when she was home but then relaxed when she went back to school. 😨 4mo
mklong Oh I was the opposite. I worried more when she got to the school and everyone was being nice to her. I was thrilled that Fanny was real though. I was pretty sure she wasn‘t. 4mo
merelybookish @mklong The book definitely creates a sense of dread. And there are many options as to what you can dread. 😬 But yes, was glad Fanny was real. 4mo
61 likes6 comments
blurb
sisilia
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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I just read the first two chapters, and am intrigued. What is Galla trying to tell me? #nyrbbookclub

vivastory I'm looking forward to reading this one. Planning on starting it this weekend. 4mo
sisilia @vivastory I loved it! 💕 4mo
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blurb
merelybookish
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Taking advantage of Denver Public Library system one last time and picked up the August #nyrbbookclub read. I have 6 days to read it before leaving town. @vivastory @mklong

vivastory Glad you were able to pick it up! I imagine you'll be busy the next 6 days, but at least it's relatively short 4mo
merelybookish @vivastory Yeah the length is a bonus! 4mo
mklong Looking forward to your thoughts on it. Best of luck with your move! 4mo
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Leftcoastzen Moving is hard . Good luck , hope it goes smoothly! 4mo
BarbaraBB You‘re moving within Denver? 4mo
merelybookish @BarbaraBB No. We are moving back to New Brunswick in Canada, back to where we grew up. 🙃 4mo
merelybookish @mklong @Leftcoastzen Thank you! Can use all the luck we can get! 🙂 4mo
BarbaraBB Oh wow, that is quite special. Are you Canadian? And looking forward to moving back? 4mo
merelybookish @BarbaraBB Yes. Both my husband and I are Canadian. We came to the US in our 20s but I have wanted to move back for a while and pandemic increased that. So happy. But also scared, sad, hopeful...all the feels so to speak. 🙃 4mo
BarbaraBB Wishing you both a happy return. Kudos for following your heart ❤️ 4mo
LeahBergen I‘m excited for you with this big move! 👏🏻👏🏻 4mo
Cathythoughts I wish you well !! All the best on your big move ❤️ 4mo
merelybookish @BarbaraBB Thank you! 😘 4mo
merelybookish @LeahBergen Thank you! I think it's going to be good for us! 4mo
merelybookish @Cathythoughts Thanks Cathy! 4mo
sisilia All the best @merelybookish A big change is both nerve-wracking and exciting 4mo
merelybookish @sisilia Thank you! Very true! And right now it's feeling like a whole lotta work! 4mo
66 likes17 comments
blurb
vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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#NYRBBookClub Announcement 2:
Join @mklong & I on 8/28 (Saturday) @ 12 EST as we read & discuss Cagnati's Free Day. In the meantime, here is a link to artwork by the cover artist Remedios Varo. You may remember Varo as the basis for Carmella in Carrington's Hearing Trumpet:
wikiart.org/en/remedios-varo

merelybookish Unflappable Carmella! ❤️ Maybe one of my favourite characters of 2021. 4mo
vivastory @merelybookish She's one of mine for sure 4mo
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batsy @merelybookish Definitely! Pretty much unforgettable. 4mo
LeahBergen I‘d best get reading soon. 👍 4mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I'll be curious to see what the group thinks, so far there's no reviews for it 4mo
emilyhaldi This is the day after my due date 🤰🏻 so it‘s probably safe to say I‘ll miss the august discussion… but maybe just maybe I‘ll make it back for September! Going to try! 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻 4mo
vivastory @emilyhaldi I'll be thinking of you! I look forward to seeing posts of the new member of the family 🙂 4mo
sarahbarnes This is my birthday, so I will miss the discussion this month! But I‘m excited to read the book and see what everyone thinks of it! 4mo
vivastory @sarahbarnes Fellow Virgo here 👋If you want to chime in late with your thoughts, feel free! 4mo
sarahbarnes Virgos unite! ♍️ 😃 And I will plan to do that - thanks! 4mo
sarahbarnes When is your birthday? 4mo
vivastory @sarahbarnes September 2. I'm planning on taking the 1-3 off from work & then I'll be off on the 6th too 4mo
sarahbarnes Nice! That‘s so cool that you can combine it with the holiday weekend! 4mo
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vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Thanks to @sprainedbrain for co-hosting in July & thanks to everyone for a great discussion yesterday. If you have further thoughts on Hartley's book, feel free to chime in. Join @mklong & I later this month as we read & discuss Cagnati's Free Day. I look forward to your nominations @youneverarrived #NYRBBookClub

62 likes7 comments
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vivastory
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Thanks to @quietjenn for co-hosting in June & thanks to everyone who chimed in for a wonderful discussion. Although a few members have yet to vote, with the majority of the votes Inès Cagnati's “Free Day“ will be the August #NYRBBookClub selection. (I dig the Remedious Varo cover!) Join @mklong & I next month as we read & discuss. Prior to that, join @sprainedbrain & I later this month for a discussion of L.P. Hartley's “The Go-Between.“

quietjenn Well, now that we have a selection, I *have* to order from the NYRB sale (and maybe already put a ton of things in my cart, as soon as I got the email). 🤷‍♀️ 5mo
vivastory @quietjenn This is the way! I will definitely be looking at it later tonight. Did you see that they were selling tickets for virtual screening of Tove Jansson biopic? 5mo
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quietjenn @vivastory I did! I haven‘t been in movie-watching mode much lately, but considering it. I didn‘t even realize there was a biopic! (Although it‘s entirely possible that I heard about it and forgot …) 5mo
sisilia Just placed an order in BD. I‘m so jealous of the NYRB sale… the shipping fee to Singapore is going to wipe out the 40% savings 😅 5mo
BarbaraBB Thanks for last week‘s discussion Scott and @quietjenn! I‘m off to BookDepository now as well! 5mo
57 likes6 comments
blurb
mklong
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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I‘m so excited that it is my turn to co-host #NYRBBookClub with @vivastory in August. Thought I‘d put the selections up a couple of days early so we can get the voting in before the holiday weekend. Who is ready for a trip to France? 🙋🏻‍♀️

mklong The Litsy description is sparse, so here is a GR link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6310492 (edited) 5mo
See All 27 Comments
sprainedbrain Oooh this is a tough choice! I‘m going to vote for No Tomorrow, but would be happy with any. 5mo
vivastory Thanks for posting early! I vote for 5mo
saresmoore Such intriguing choices! My vote is for 5mo
merelybookish Formidable! 🙂 Ma choix est 5mo
quietjenn Hm, I think I'll also go with 5mo
Billypar Oui! 🎒🗼 I'm going to vote for No Tomorrow because I have zéro knowledge of 18th century literature. 5mo
sisilia I‘ll vote for Free Day 5mo
LeahBergen Ooo, this is a tough one. I loved Les Liaisons Dangereuses so I‘ll vote for 5mo
Liz_M I recently purchased, and would like to read 5mo
Leftcoastzen They all look good , I pick 5mo
Reviewsbylola My vote is for 5mo
sarahbarnes Great choices! My vote is for 5mo
batsy These are all intriguing choices! I'm gonna go with 5mo
BarbaraBB I love the theme! I haven‘t read any of them, so I don‘t really mind but most intriguing to me is 5mo
daena I‘ll vote for 5mo
Tanisha_A No Tomorrow sounds very curious! So, voting for that! 😊 5mo
emilyhaldi Great picks- it‘s a hard choice! I‘m going with (edited) 5mo
BarbaraBB Katie, you forgot to tag @Suet624 ! (edited) 5mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB Hi Barbara. I bowed out of the club. I actually am still buying the books and trying to read them though. 😳🤷🏻‍♀️ thank you for thinking of me. Greatly appreciated. (edited) 5mo
BarbaraBB @Suet624 Oh I‘m so sorry, I didn‘t know. You will be missed in the club but I am glad we‘ll always have all kinds of books to discuss! 5mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB ❤️❤️❤️ 5mo
32 likes27 comments