Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels are literary quicksand. I am convinced there is no way to dip in and dip out. These novels are lengthy—My Brilliant Friend is over 300 pages, The Story of a New Name is nearly 500—and yet, I’m not even considering reading something else. (And it’s worth noting that I have, I am not exaggerating, 27 books checked out from the library right now.) The idea of waiting to find out what happens next is unbearable—the final lines of New Name are quite possibly the best cliffhanger I’ve read since I was nine years old and finishing The Goblet of Fire by flashlight under my bedroom comforter.
If nothing could save us, not money, not a male body, and not even studying, we might as well destroy everything immediately.
She deserved Nino, in other words, because she thought that to love him meant to try to have him, not to hope that he would want her.
I recognized in them, father and daughter, what I had never had and, I now knew, would always lack. What was it? I wasn’t able to say precisely. The training, perhaps, to feel that the questions of the world were deeply connected to me. The capacity to feel them as crucial, and not purely as information to display at an exam in view of a good grade. A mental conformation that didn’t reduce everything to my own individual battle, to the effort to be successful.