Books by Michele Spina

SLEEP by Michele Spina
Released: April 8, 2002

"Spina didn't live to further clarify this exasperatingly elliptical fiction; consequently, Sleep offers a reading experience exactly as absorbing, and as elusive, as the condition to which its protagonist aspires."
Meanings are elusive and tension minimal in this curious novel left behind by the Sicilian academic and fiction-writer (West of the Moon, 1995, etc.) who spent almost half his life (1923-90) in self-imposed exile in England. Its subject is the chronic insomnia suffered by its unnamed narrator, whose sleepless wanderings through quiet city streets are juxtaposed against fragmented memories of his childhood and youth and enigmatic conversations—with the whores who inhabit the "nighttown" he's exploring, an inquisitive old man, an ebullient retired military captain, and others. Clues to his insomnia are embedded in references to his unprepossessing "lantern jaw" and habit of "go[ing] around town hitting waiters," suggestions that a childhood exposure to violence and criminality has bequeathed him unresolved emotions, and in the haunting image of a "reverse sun" moving backward in the sky toward the point at which it rose. Read full book review >
WEST OF THE MOON by Michele Spina
Released: Nov. 15, 1995

A skimpy novella that was posthumously published in Italy following the death of its author (192390), a distinguished art historian and philosopher. It would be unkind, if essentially accurate, to call it a sophisticated European version of The Bridges of Madison County. On a train to Venice, a retired merchant and a beautiful 40ish woman meet; he pays her a modest compliment, they begin conversing, and a nonromantic relationship begins. Their flirtatious banter, their exchanges of memories and longings, amusingly combine abstract thought with—in the most literal sense- -fundamental physical realities. They seem united by their fear of becoming inarticulate, and their determination to stand out from, and be superior to, the mass of humanity. It's all very slight, but charming, and has been rendered into graciously elegant English by translator Colcord and illustrated with etchings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler—thus making the very volume itself as attractive, self-assured, and, finally, forgettable as its two characters. Read full book review >