A haunting, gorgeously evocative and harrowingly intense chronicle of a man obsessed—the Italian author’s first to be published in the U.S.
Claudio Fratta, a high-end garden-designer in his mid-30s, has prematurely gone to seed. His father’s downfall, the allure of a mystery woman and the ache he feels from his brother’s tragic death all hold him in a white-knuckled grip. Women no longer notice him, but he pays rapt attention to everything; his eye is omnivorous. Canobbio sets Fratta on a dark journey that begins ominously. In route to a client’s mansion, Claudio loses control of his Renault, crunching a dog beneath its tires. Shuddering, he recalls a shock five months before: the sight of a man mowed down in a hit-and-run. Shortly thereafter, Claudio had followed the taillights of a speeding car, only to watch it crash into a ditch, a gorgeous woman at the wheel. He’d rescued and forgotten her—except for a hallucinatory image of his “head sunk between her thighs.” Flash-forward to the present and he’s meeting her again: the wife of his new client, an old-school country gentleman confined to a wheelchair. His pursuit of her is only one taut thread in this existential thriller. There’s also Claudio’s revenge fantasies about the loan shark who wrecked his father’s business, and his desperate love for his family—Carlo, his leftist brother whose one attempt to make money was a failed website about ’70s terrorism, Carlo’s beautiful children and the clan’s black sheep, Fabio. Its plot reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, its style recalling the lapidary prose of Sicilian titan Lampedusa, this deep, moody novel succeeds in depicting a mind in crisis.
Psychologically disturbing and aesthetically moving.