Book to Basics #21 Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Where do you think is the strangest place or situation for a person to find his or herself? How about to find love?

It is very unlikely to find pleasure in reading a story about a "hostage crisis" but Ann Patchett's Bel Canto does exactly that.

As I was reading it, I couldn't help but smile with or at the completely varied array of characters forced to commune with each other. It appeals to me as if it's a sarcastic story of amateur terrorism told with such expertise that the people comprising the story are played fool by the way things are turning out to be.

Not that the characters are fools on their own, in fact, the complexities that comprises each beckoning character was so solid and moving, but it is the way they behaved all together, in the situation that the hostage scene called for, which made the story move forward without a dragging pull. I really liked it because it was neither brutal, nor romanticzed in a sickening any way. As good as it gets, it has this very realistic non-idealistic tone despite its discussion and representation of normalized idealisms and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

Bel canto, which means "beautiful singing" in Italian, is a well-orchestrated piece that I found difficult to put down because of each chapters fluidity and power. Just like how it started with music (it is set in a private party for a president who was found out to be an absentee guest), the failure/s which founded and persisitently moved the story to a crescendo is just irresistable.

It talked about divas. It talked about language barriers. It talked about passion vis-a-vis mere fanaticism. It talked about the medie--and its manipulative hand. Oh, it talked about diplomacy and cowardice!

Now imagine all that and more, held hostage in one room, by non-violent terrorists with demands ranging from gold to licorice. Whirl away in joy.

Bel Canto (Php 479) is available at Fully Booked. For inquiries, visit their website here.