Ciabattari's Chaplin-esque walker in the city, Rizzoli (Dreams of an Imaginary New Yorker Named Rizzoli, 1989), returns in a series of surreal, episodic, and intellectually playful cinematic dreamscapes that veer from wish fulfillment to nightmare. Rizzoli remains a victim of his dream logic. ``In the grip of appearances,'' this comic cosmopolitan finds himself battling his eight-foot muffler in an epic struggle that ends with a Pyrrhic victory. Though his desire to solve the homeless problem is thwarted, he enjoys a number of strange power fantasies: He's ravished by a sexy video image from a favorite film; he buys fine art at bargain basement prices because reproductions have surpassed originals in value; and he discovers that he's become an accidental millionaire. What seems at first a horrific manifestation of the ``American dream''—everyone's net worth appears holographically over their heads—soon becomes a boon for Rizzoli. As his assets increase rapidly, despite a paltry sum in the bank, store clerks and celebrities defer to him. A parade of all the people in his life marches up Fifth Avenue. During interludes in the Hamptons, he hobnobs with the beautiful people. In one extraordinary episode, he and a producer exist only within the dimensions of a movie, becoming close-ups, pans, and voice-overs. A local train delivers him into a premodern idyll of Bronx sheep meadows, where Rizzoli aids in the birth of a lamb. But his adventures end on a cynical note: a scene in a betting parlor that makes literal the notion of life as a horse race. A paean to the special ``city grace'' that prevails amid chaos, Ciabattari's clever and cartoonish novel is a delightful postmodern romp, more Calvino than Kafka.
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