【英語レビュー】The Postman(il postino) by Antonio Skarmeta


I bought this book a long time ago -probably when I was in my early 30s - when I was studying English really hard. (Even then, I wasn't studying as hard as I am now, though.) The book had been on the shelf, never read until I took it out a few days ago. I even don't remember why I bought this book. Then for a while, I was pondering things like what made me want to buy it, which part of it attracted me the most, or something like that. Anyway, I did decide to pick up this book. Is that because the cover of the book was so beautiful and colorful which made it very enticing and irresistible to me? I bought this book maybe because, at the first glance, it looked easy to read since it’s a pretty slim book (with only 118 pages) compared to other average paperbacks. Besides, the book is written with relatively bigger print. That should've been another reason, but now I’m sure it's not necessarily so when I think about how better my eyesight was before (Now, I can’t survive without my reading glasses, but back then, this is something I’d never have even had any slightest idea of. I’m older than I was before, but I can’t help, but exclaim “Those were the good old days!”) This concludes me that the biggest reason why I chose book in those days is because I totally belittled the difficulty of this book. In other words, I assumed that it’d be pretty easy for me to read this book.

 

In reality however, I now firmly believe that it was impossible for me to read through this book because there are a lot of difficult vocabulary here and there – the vocabulary I now find OK because I learned them when studying for STEP 1st grade. I was glad that I worked that hard because now I can read this book somehow. My efforts finally paid off. So, no wonder I gave up reading this book halfway through when I originally bought it (not knowing if I’d ever even tried in the first place, though.) It can be really disappointing to find out the book you chose turned out to be beyond your reading comprehension ability. I’ve been there so many times. It can be also discouraging, but letting it get you down is not the cleverest idea because keeping reading is the only solution to in order to make your reading better. However, putting aside the book that’s still too difficult for you for a while until you feel like giving it a try again later is a good idea. Making another attempt might be successful. It might tell you how much you’ve improved just like the one that just happened to me.      

 

OK, enough about what brought me to reading this book. Let me finally move on to what the story is about.

 

Before I read it this time, I knew little about what the story is about. All I knew, besides the title of it, was that there might have been a movie based on this story or something. That's all. So, I began to read with open mind, no prejudice at all. The more I kept reading, however, the more confused it made me because it was just humorous. There are tons of expressions and descriptions that sound so amusing and I couldn’t stop laughing. I wonder “Is this story supposed to be this hilarious? I could’ve considered it more serious – but could never have thought it could be this funny. I’d never laughed that hard when reading English books. It was a very good feeling to me, because it shows how much I was able to understand and keep up with the story.

 

It was a very beautiful story - poignant and humorous at the same time. It’s a story about a son of fisherman named Mario who’s not interested in becoming a fisherman like his father. Insisted on finding a job by his father, he chose to be a mailman whose only customer – and was also the only literate person in the village – is Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet. Being an ardent fan of Pablo Neruda himself at first, Mario and Pablo Neruda soon become good friends. Mario fell in love with the most beautiful young lady in the village named Beatrice, and asks Neruda to teach him how to make poems so that he can win her heart. Despite her mother’s disapproval, they eventually get married and their first child is on the way. Neruda moves to France to be assigned as the ambassador to France. While he’s there, Neruda gets homesick and asks Mario to record (by the Japanese-made Sony cassette recorder, which made me feel proud!) for him various kinds of sounds he used to appreciate when living in the village such as the sound of wind, waves, birds, bell rings, dogs barking, sea retreating and the lastly – Mario’s new-born baby’s cry! (which must be totally unexpected to Neruda because he didn't know the birth of Mario's first baby) The story seems very peaceful until then, but unfortunately, because of the political turmoil back then, things are deteriorating… Nothing seems to be able to stop it making everyone helpless and powerless. How deplorable... How tragic...

     

In addition to the challenging vocabulary that I’ve already referred to above, the book has a lot of poems in it making this story very poetic and dramatic. Although it keeps me laughing first, the ending is the saddest and most disappointing to me. It gets me wonder why people’s lives would have to be sacrificed and tormented by such political confusions. There are no more laughing scenes in the end. That reminds me of how relaxing the village was and how laid-back the people’s lives were at the first-half of the story. It just seemed to be a tragic story by the time I finished reading it. It just shows how fragile people’s lives and fates can be. However, there is still hope. Although death is always a sad thing, it also makes being alive very valuable. It’s totally indescribable with my limited expressive ability, but the book actually left a strong impression on me.

  

About the plot, I found out that the way both the novel and the movie are described are a bit different; the novel says "mother" whereas the movie says "aunt." "Mario", the protagonist dies at the end of the movie while "Pablo Neruda", the poet does in the novel. As far as I read the review of both the novel and the movie on both amazon.com and amazon. co. jp, no one seems to be mentioning this. That's very weird. To me, this is a very big difference. (I hope I'm not mistaken.) One of the reviewers of the movie on amazon.com even says that the movie is very true to the book, which left me a confusing impression. No offense, but, as a matter of fact, Mario’s death would be a bigger impact on me (because he's an innocent citizen, and mostly he's younger...). 

 

In conclusion, personally, I’m glad that I was able to read this book at this point in life. It gave me an opportunity to think about what life means and how to live it. It’s absolutely a book worth reading. I highly recommend you read, too.