The Baron in the Trees
01/18/2009 § Leave a comment
I find it difficult to write about The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calivino. If I use my recently coined system of arbitrary assessment, the number will be nigh infinite. I would be listing hundreds of pluses for each page, and at 217 pages in the edition translated by Archibald Colquhoun, I would end up with the previously mentioned “nigh infinite” number. The rating of Calvino’s unequaled story would shame all the other stories in this blog, thus rendering this blog frivolous.
Instead of rendering my blog frivolous (and it’s arguably frivolous now), I’ll forgo the system of arbitrary assessment and simply attempt to tame my emotions long enough to wrestle them to the (web)page.
The story is simple. The Baron in the Trees is the life story of Cosimo. Cosimo decides as a boy that he is going to live among the trees. Added to this tree plot is the Enlightenment, a dog, some love, and a brother narrator. Aside from having a special place in my heart for second person narratives, I’m also terribly sappy (-2) and love me some high romance.
I often consider a story of this caliber and think, “my goodness, wouldn’t it be easy to come up with a somewhat unique plot and fill it with a few simple details and then I’d have myself an impossibly amazing story too.” I think that sometimes. I really do. *sigh*
Still, I don’t know what to say about this book other than it is beautiful. Truly beautiful. When broken down it could seem trite. Everything that gets broken down seems trite, and if it doesn’t it is suspect. This book is like your favorite song, not mine because we have different tastes. Well, I guess it’s like my favorite song too, but only for me, you see. It’s like that because the best songs are simple and often full of cliché, making them universal. It is the whole composition that moves one to tears, not its elements.
Song comparison not doing it? Let me try in terms of theater.
My biggest fear when reading a book that I so adore is that when I reach the end it will disappoint. Most often it does. Endings can rarely equal the journey forward. The ending of The Baron in the Trees, like the beginning and middle, was inexplicably lovely and simple, painting an ear to ear smile across my face.
Sure, smiles are common when reading a book, but when the memory of a scene can force that same smile to return it is that that makes this book beautfiul.