In the third installment of Giovene's ongoing fictional autobiography, his alter ego hazards World War II as a captain in Mussolini's infamously inept army -- and for all Giuliano's attention to things military we understand why Italy fared so poorly. Cultivated mind that he is, scion of an ancient name with a coat of arms, Giuliano is more concerned with the pursuit of ""great moments"" -- the call of a screech-owl at the temple of Bassae when he serves with occupying forces in Greece, the discovery of wild mushrooms in his German concentration camp in Poland, the romantic solicitude of a gander for his goose in the German household where he is put to forced labor -- than he is with an ""absurd"" war. Ghosts of memory haunt his rambling chronological narrative. Not the Joycean, Proustian or Freudian sort ""but memory as explored by the Saint. The memory by which Saint Augustine came to know God."" And with insurance like that, the hero is as serene and philosophic as a boy in a seminary, knowing ""the flow of my life would not come to an end until I had discovered its meaning.