cinema paradiso . Just After World War II, A Young Orphan Living In Naples Comes Under The Protection Of Don Gaetano, The Superintendent Of An Apartment Building He Is A Generous Man And Is Very Attached To The Boy, Telling Him About The War And The Liberation Of The City By The Neapolitans He Teaches Him To Play Cards, Shows Him How To Do Odd Jobs For The Tenants, And Even Initiates Him Into The World Of Sex By Sending Him One Evening To A Widow Who Lives In The Building But Don Gaetano Possesses Another Gift As Well He Knows How To Read People S Thoughts And Guesses Correctly That His Young Friend Is Haunted By The Image Of A Girl He Noticed By Chance Behind A Window During A Soccer Match Years Later, When The Girl Returns, The Orphan Will Need Don Gaetano S Help Than Ever Before Reading..During Reading After Reading . . ,. Ugh, this is an exquisite little book It would make a great companion piece to Elena Ferrante s My Brilliant Friend, with which it shares both theme and setting namely, a childhood in Naples in the 1950s Beyond that, though, the two are polar opposites Ferrante is writing about girls, De Luca a boy she is setting up a multi volume epic, he knocks this one off in just over a hundred pages and while Ferrante s characters are growing up in one of the interwar housing projects on the edge of the city, De Luca s protagonist is deep in the labyrinthine heart of the old town.Naples in this book is ancient, freighted with past lives and secrets the dusty buildings around the courtyard where our narrator spent his childhood were, he says, full of walled up trapdoors, secret passageways, crimes and passions They were swarming with ghosts The city s ramshackle geography, like the worldview of its inhabitants, is seen as something that has grown out of a specific historical context especially the Second World War, long stories about which the boy hears from his guardian These make up some of the best scenes in the book, although there is always a feeling, in De Luca s shimmering sentences, of history stretching back much further than that, far out of living memory The city contains all eras, we re told Our building and its residents are the Middle Ages in modern dress Having got disproportionately huffy about the way the Neapolitan language is skated over in Ferrante, I was psyched to see it get such lavish attention here Neapolitan phrases are scattered throughout the text, including a bittersweet line from the boy s mentor T aggia mpara e t aggia perdere, I have to teach you, and then I have to let you go which becomes a kind of emotional refrain, building power as it goes Neapolitan, we are told,is made for storytelling You tell someone something and they believe you In standard Italian there s always some doubt did I hear that right Italian is great for writing, when you don t need a voice, but to tell a story, you want our language, which holds it all together and helps you to see it Neapolitan invites fantasy It opens up your eyes and ears.That line about how it invites fantasy connected with especial force, since I just finished Basile s The Tale of Tales, translated from Neapolitan And that wasn t the only thing in here that struck unexpected chords with other books I ve read about Naples the boy s nickname isa scigna, the monkey , which I remember Roberto Saviano mentioning in Gomorrah as being the nickname of one of the Camorra capos A camorrista features as an important secondary character in this book, too I do love it when books, all unknowingly, call out to each other like this.I found De Luca s writing very beautiful, and sensitively translated by Jill Foulston who handles the male pubescence sections without a stumble But what s most remarkable about this book and perhaps that historical context has something to do with it is how much power it seems to generate with such a restrained word count It s a story that comes with a very deeply felt sense of place by the time you finish it, you really feel like you ve been living there And our ingenuous scugnizzo narrator easily bewildered, with faraway eyes is the perfect stand in to run awestruck through the courtyards, and meet the city s ghosts, on your behalf.Edit After writing this review, I noticed that The Day Before Happiness had the dubious honour of winning the Spectator s Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2016 The offending passage was the following My prick was a plank stuck to her stomach With a swerve of her hips, she turned me over and I was on top of her She opened her legs, pulled up her dress and, holding my hips over her, pushed my prick against her opening I was her plaything, which she moved around Our sexes were ready, poised in expectation, barely touching each other ballet dancers hovering en pointe which, as far as I can see, is not that bad, as writing about sex goes Modify your opinion of my judgment as appropriate. .
Upon completing high school in 1968 Erri De Luca joined the radical left wing movement Lotta Continua After the organization s disbandment he worked as a blue collar at the Fiat factory in Turin and at the Catania airport He also was as a truck driver and a mason, working in job sites in Italy, France and Africa He rode relief convoys in Yugoslavia during the war between 1993 and 1999.He is sel
- 128 pages
- Il giorno prima della felicità
- Erri De Luca
- 13 November 2019 Erri De Luca