I recently read Elena Ferrantes four volumes of Neapolitan stories, which are really just one long story about two girls growing up in Naples. I found it totally engrossing; it's War and Peace by Fellini, though instead of Russia versus Napoleon we have female emancipation versus hundreds of years of culture and habit.
Volume one, My Beautiful Friend, starts slowly. There are a lot of characters to meet, some confusingly named. Our narrator, Elena (also called Lenu) and best friend Lila (also called Lina) are young girls, playing with dolls, wandering a dark street in post-war Naples, and by the end of this volume they are young women.
Through three more volumes Ferrante brings us to the present and along the way we get to see many of the seminal moments in the lives of our heroines as well as a glimpse of life in poor urban Naples. And life is vividly and brutally portrayed, it's a violent, patriarchal culture. The story is especially wrenching when the characters transition to young adulthood, where their idealism collides with the inertia of hundreds of years of habit.
What I'm listening to: Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales by Car Seat Headrest.