Book Review: “The Balloon, Mount Tembura and the Flying Carpet” by Fernanda Raineri (@ RaineriFernanda)
In Fernanda Raineri’s The Balloon, Mount Tembura and the Flying Carpet(2015), Stella, an Italian teenager who dreams about becoming a writer, looks forward to going on a balloon trip with her two friends, Rebecca and Frank. Stella’s little sister, Glenda, is coming along. As soon as they board the balloon Nautilus, however, weird things begin to happen.
It is near the 1,889 metre-high Mt Tambura, in the Apuan Alps, that trouble occurs. Strong wind blows the balloon off its course, in which the four protagonists and their pilot, Alfred, “were being tossed around like eggs in a basket, afraid to be scrambled”. It is with refreshing words like these that Raineri creates a magical world into which the characters crash-land.
To support its unusual imaginary, the story needs much more showing, instead of telling. (For example, readers need not be told that there is mutual attraction between two of the teenagers.) Also needing control is the story’s pace – too many details in some places while in others more descriptions can be added.
This reviewer finds the treasures found deep in Mt Tambura truly amazing. Only those who are familiar with the history of the Apuan Alps are able to weave these significant details into their fictional writing. After all, these are part of their childhood, their life, and become increasingly worthy of telling the further they move away from home. The trick is to convey cherished personal memories into unique literary gems that demand people’s attention.
So, with some work, this story can be magnificent. Occasional sentences like this one are an indicator of Raineri’s writing talents: “The boy prodded [the skull] with his right foot. He felt like an expert of skeletons. The skull was not attached to any body, because he rolled on the sand like a ball.” And here is another one: “Although they had nothing to hold on to except each other, they seemed stuck on the carpet, as if they had magnets in their pants.” This reviewer would encourage further polishing of such talents until the story becomes perfect. Writing in a different language does require a lot of hard work.
Transparency: This reviewer is grateful to have received a review copy of the book from the author.