Much is made of a modest premise in this tense and fascinating novel by a contemporary Italian writer and translator. Its protagonist, Vulpio, a celebrated repertory actor performing in an extended run as the immortal Don Juan's valet, becomes obsessed with a returning audience member who seems intently watching none but him. Vulpio loses all detachment and perspective, disappears into his role, draws ever further away from his mistress, his colleagues, and indeed every element of life ""outside"" the play that increasingly contains him. Capriolo skillfully traces a disintegration that's also a paradoxical fulfillment, in a wry fable whose implications expand menacingly and amusingly, as the net draws tighter around the distracted Vulpio. A virtuoso performance, in a superlative English translation.