BookThoughts: Alessandro Baricco – Mr Gwyn


‘Jasper Gwyn diceva che tutti siamo qualche pagina di un libro, ma di un libro che nessuno ha mai scritto e che invano cerchiamo negli scaffali della nostra mente.’

Mr Gwyn, Alessandro Baricco, Feltrinelli, 2011

A beautifully written book, I devoured this in a day, favouring returning home to it over sitting in a bar with a cocktail and rather antisocially turning to read while out with some friends.

Baricco’s relatively short novel was gripping and intriguing. Set in London (although not translated from English, instead written directly in Italian), the plot follows protagonist Jasper Gywn after he gives up writing and sets about creating written portraits. I found it beautifully written, with a simple plot which was engaging and fluid – not the kind of book where you’re having to flip back and forth, trying to keep up with what’s happening.

Mr Gwyn is written in my current favourite style; through a series of short chapters. This adds to the ease of the plot and makes it really readable. The chapters often flowed into each other, without much distance in time between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, and occasionally I wondered whether a new chapter really was necessary. However, the layout of chapters, with a simple number denoting the start of the next, made for unobtrusive chaptering, and added to the ease of the flow of the plot.