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In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

In Calabria

by Peter S. Beagle

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This is a tale of modern Italy, about a middle-aged curmugeon who cares only for his few animals and rundown property, until one day he is surprised by the appearance of a unicorn, and realizes nothing will ever be the same.

Forty-plus years after the publication of The Last Unicorn, this author still has the ability to not only immerse us in a world of magic and wonder, but does so very differently from the typical contribution of the genre. Highly recommended! ( )
  fuzzi | Aug 16, 2017 |
In Calabria presents a lovely story of an ornery old farmer and unicorns who choose to take up residence on his land. A miraculous event that unsettles his quiet life as visitors come from far and wide to get a taste of the miraculous themselves. While it did not quite have the same level of wonder for me as The Last Unicorn, this was beautiful in its own way. ( )
  andreablythe | Jul 30, 2017 |
Peter S. Beagle’s spare, confident writing style isn’t influenced by current trends: multiple POV’s, epic battles, complex twists and turns. He keeps it simple, letting the story tell itself. A quiet humor pervades this fable of a unicorn that arrives to disrupt the life of an older peasant. Through the mythological, Bianchi, a reclusive and grumbling farmer, rediscovers his own humanity. The story was sweet, with an ensemble of merry mammals, and quirky villagers. One quibble: Why is it that older male authors (and film directors) so often depict a love affair in which a very young, sensual woman throws herself at an elderly curmudgeon? The youth and sexual boldness of the girl seem more like wishful thinking than necessary elements of the romantic pairing.
  AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
Do you know, do you ever consider, how beautiful and impossible you have made my life? Do you care?

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was short (a mere 176 pages), but it packed a punch.

As the title might suggest, In Calabria – by Peter S. Beagle, the author of The Last Unicorn – takes place in Calabria, a small town in southern Italy. Claudio Bianchi lives alone, isolated on a farm once belonging to his uncle, staunchly determined to remain in the 19th century: all he counts among his technological possessions are a telephone and a small TV that sometimes gets news channels.

Life in isolation suits Bianchi just fine…until one day he spots a pregnant golden-white unicorn on his farm. And his life will never again be the same.

This book, in my opinion, can be filed neatly with other such books as A Man Called Ove in a curmudgeonly-old-men category. Both told the story of grumpy old men living alone, but who also go through some transformative process by a person (or in this case, by a unicorn) that invades their lives; in the end, they are still curmudgeonly, but realize there is something to live for. While I don’t think it’s fair to directly compare the two, I think they each essentially tell the same story.

I really enjoyed Beagle’s descriptions of the unicorn. I thought they were beautiful.

La Signora surged under him as he straddled her: not as a single creature, not even as a unicorn, but as something that did not know him, a white vastness that wished him neither evil nor any recognizable good, but only its own immortal freedom and power.

I also enjoyed the fact that, while a seemingly simple story on the surface, there were deep undertones relaying messages of love, loss, and loneliness. The unicorn herself, who Bianchi dubbed “La Signora” out of respect, was herself a metaphor for what Bianchi himself had lost. It was never overly poignant or profound in the way that A Man Called Ove was, but it was deep and meaningful in a more subtle way.

Overall, I did enjoy this book – a lot more than I expected I would. I never read any of Beagle’s other works, though Summerlong has been on my TBR list for a while now.

I’d rate this book a solid 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 stars).

Thank you to both NetGalley and Edelweiss as well as Tachyon Publications for a free advanced copy of this e-galley in exchange for an honest review! 

https://allisonsadventuresintowonderlands.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/peter-s-beagles-in-calabria/ ( )
  Allison_Krajewski | Mar 31, 2017 |
Like most people who are able to read and enjoy fantasy, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter S. Beagle. That's not to say I'm a real fan, however; he's a remarkable writer, and uses language like a virtuoso uses a violin, but I've just never warmed to him.

And In Calabria is a perfect example of why. It's a beautiful book. The characters are marvelous. The intrusion of the rare and beautiful into the life of a reclusive and misanthropic man is intense and utterly real.

But, for me, there's some … thing lacking. I have no idea what. Something holds me back, creates a distance. It was gorgeous and I'm glad I read it, and parts of it will stay with me – but, still…

In any case… while neither this nor any of the other Beagles I've read will ever be my very favorite book, it was still a remarkable experience. I saw one review which complained that there was nothing new here, that Beagle has "done" unicorns before, didn't have to do it again – but I think that's … well, insane. It's been a while since I read The Last Unicorn, but I don't think this bears much of a resemblance to that, apart from the obvious: the cataclysmic effect a creature of legend can have on ordinary life. It's not a well, which can be dipped into too often - it's a river, a force of nature, never the same two moments running. Maybe that's why I've never been fonder of Peter Beagle - his extraordinarily comforting last name notwithstanding, his are simply not comfortable books.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Feb 26, 2017 |
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For Ayesha L. Collins, brave and beautiful, always, even when weary and sad
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"The whole trouble with your farm," Romano Muscari said, "is that it is too far uphill for the American suntanners, and too low for the German skiers. Location is everything."
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