Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels have now sold some 5.5 million copies worldwide https://t.co/2IiKrgFGFP
— New York Times Books (@nytimesbooks) December 7, 2016
According to the Grey Lady, Ferrante Fever is STILL at an all-time high:
If your Ferrante-feverish loved one is like the poor inflicted publishing industry mavens I know, then she’s already torn through the Neopolitan novels. Indeed, at this early stage, the fever is mild, and basic daily tasks are manageable. Bodily faculties are in control.
But then the addiction kicks in, stealth-like, as she combs through the anonymous Italian author’s back catalog: The Days of Abandonment, The Lost Daughter. This is when you should start to worry. She starts calling you cucciola! and her search history is a frightening list of boutique Etsy shops that import fine Italian leather goods.
The Frantumaglia stage is quite dire, and extreme care should be taken. The bonds of fiction are cast aside, and now your once-carefree friend is babbling on about Ferrante’s remarkable craft, her complicated relationship with her mother, her history with psychoanalysis. Actually, psychoanalysis might be a reasonable option when your friend becomes distraught that you are only eating the chocolate out of her tub of Neapolitan ice cream. (Yes, the fever becomes that one-dimensional, when even the mere mention of Napoli sends her into throes of ecstasy. It will be uncomfortable.)
The Beach at Night is the final stage of the fever, and from here there is no turning back. Your friend is obsessed with Ferrante’s characteristically-dark children’s book, and your friend does not have children. She even hates YA. She SCOFFED at you when you read Twilight, even though you said it was to “understand your enemy.” Your friend is in danger.
Keep calm. Indulge her. Lean in. We’ll help. Provide for her these Ferrantean gifts so the transition to normalcy is eased:
1. A tour of Naples, modeled after Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy:
Lena and Lenù’s childhood comes to life in this tour of Naples that explores Elena’s childhood home, the Spanish Quarter, and the castles featured on the cover of The Story of A Lost Child. Chow down on a classic Neapolitan pizza and cut through the picturesque Bay of Naples to visit Ischia, the volcanic island where much of the novel is set.
2. A poster of Naples
Dream of a city where torrid affairs ruin friendships and the smell of basil wafts down cobblestone streets…where sacred objects, such as secret diaries, are dramatically hurled in fires and bodies of water with equal amounts of rage and resentment…
This one from the JIGraphicDesign store on Etsy conjures a city landscape so idyllic that one can almost forget the way a working-class Italian upbringing in the midcentury shaped one and one’s best friend, and how now you hate each other with the specific kind of contempt female friends are really good at.
3. A diary
Moleskines are reliably good for river-throwing. Sinks like a stone. Sinks like your partner’s face after he discovers you have betrayed him with yet another torrid affair. You’re incorrigible!
4. Fairy wings
You both will look just like the girls who don The Story of the Lost Child cover. This is great, because everyone universally likes Europa Edition’s covers and has no complaints about them at all.
5. An artisinal urn
…for the ashes of the reporter who outs you.
6. Or perhaps a lovely Neapolitan necklace?
For the woman on the go, to tote the ashes around wherever you wander so that journalists may look upon you and COWER.
7. A gift basket from Eataly to avoid those pesky tourist crowds
Try to squelch the feelings of guilt and betrayal you feel towards your closest loved ones with a big plate of penne rigate, marzano tomatoes, and wash down the nostalgia for the simplicity of childhood with a nice, refreshing, Festivo Portofino soda.