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In Russia, in Sverdlovsk, two Italians find themselves thrown together of an evening: a scaffolding rigger named Faussone and an industrial chemist (like Levi himself) who does the narrating here--both far from home on separate jobs. Fanssone is a voluble storyteller and treats the chemist to story after story of his experiences in his (in all senses of the word) highly dangerous profession: putting together an offshore off rig in Alaska, building truss towers and powerline poles, working both beyond his skill and also beneath it. The stories have an honesty and humility that appeal to the chemist, who sees himself and chemists in general as riggers as well--admittedly bad ones: ""We really are like elephants who have been given a closed box containing all the pieces of a watch: we are very strong and patient, and we shake the box in every direction and with all our strength."" This complementary metaphor--and a lovely, comic tale told by the chemist about developing a paint-coating for the inside of cans, a coating able to stand up to the rigors of Russian anchovies--comes late in the book, though; until then, a reader may nod pleasantly at Faussone's stories, if without much zeal or fascination; almost too subtle, the book threatens to evanesce completely now and then. For faithful Levi fans more than anyone else.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 0140188924
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster