THE LITERAL TRUTH: Rizzoli Dreams of Eating the Apple of Earthly Delights by Mark Ciabattari

THE LITERAL TRUTH: Rizzoli Dreams of Eating the Apple of Earthly Delights

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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.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1994
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: "Canio's (P.O. Box 1962, Sag Harbor, NY 11963)"