I found out about the book Piranesi from a youtube video by Nightshade talking about artist Jared Pike's Dreampools and was immediately intrigued by the premise...

I've been through a reading dry spell that has lasted years and I am always lamenting that I don't read as much as I want to. I chalk it up to the task of sitting down and focusing on one thing being nearly impossible for me without some coaxing. But this book's concept lingered long enough in my mind that I found time to dive in.

After obsessively trying to decide what medium I should approach the book as (Audiobook? Digital? Physical? New? Used? Any question to avoid the act of actually getting down into the nitty gritty of Reading, I suppose) I finally just impulsively downloaded the text onto my phone's book app. I figured that if I read it on my phone, it'd serve as a diversion from mindless scrolling on social media.

This surprisingly worked. On lunch breaks at work and low energy days (and eventually just because I was pulled into the world) I found myself happily reading and making steady progress. So I guess this is how my digitally rotted brain reads books now.
Anyway, here's the synopsis.

"Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is a literary page-turner set an alternate reality. It's about a man, Piranesi, living in a grand labyrinth that is filled with statues, beset by floods and surrounded by celestial objects.

Piranesi carefully documents the world around him, including the house's many halls, the tides and the human remains that he finds. But indications of a stranger prompt Piranesi to question what he knows about this world and threatens to reveal the truths buried long ago."

The book has a first person perspective, which (I think) isn't a lot of people's preference as far as storytelling goes, but something I've always enjoyed. In my opinion, there's something interesting about forcing one perspective and having to paint a picture of reality through that one flawed view. It also allows the reader to have an interesting secondary role of putting things together that the character might not.

The book reads like a mystery and following along the character Piranesi as he works things out is a compelling journey. He is initially not threatened by his strange existence and acts completely native to these halls, but eventually comes to realize there are major gaps in his memory, revealed by looking back upon meticulous journal entries he keeps. He cannot remember a time before he lived in what he calls The House, which he reveres with a type of religious importance.

I would be remiss to not mention Piranesi's namesake in this review, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who was an Italian classical archaeologist, architect, and artist. He is most known for his etchings of Rome and, more relevant to this book, his oppressive, labyrinthine, fictitious environments he calls his Imaginary Prisons. The Prisons are enclosed, but ongoing interior spaces made up of ancient architectural elements, which is a direct influence to the book Piranesi, from the title and main character, to the environment, and concept as a whole. Susanna Clarke clearly fell in love with the concept, took it, and ran, which I think is a beautiful way to celebrate and build upon the ideas of artists that compel us.

There is a cruel reason for Piranesi's name, and as he slowly uncovers why, he finds himself having trouble trying to understand the circumstances of who he was, why he is Piranesi now, and who he becomes once this context is revealed to him. Witnessing that identity struggle is heartbreaking and very powerful once he makes peace with it.

This book left an impression on me and I'll be thinking about it for a long time. If you read this book, email/message me to let me know what you think about it! If you want to check it out, take a look at the different places you can buy it here! If you want to check it out and you're tight on cash, just ask nicely in an email and I'll see what I can do ;)

"The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite."

Thank you for reading.
a little dog in an airplane