Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Homecoming Party

Carmine Abate
The Homecoming Party
Translated from the Italian by Anthony Shugaar

Europa Editions, 2010

A book, which is a portrait of childhood, can be interesting for reading not only by its author, but readers too, if it not simply imposes one memory to another, simply strings little pieces of memories on a skewer of fiction: the meat may be good, but the dish will not work (cooks should forgive me for the invasion on their territory). A story can have no plot (but better have it), but some secrets should be present.

There is a mystery in this novel by an Italian Abate, as there is weak but enjoyable plot. A story rolls up and rolls out like a carpet, which then have been put into a corner, then roll on the floor, and the center of the story is in one place. For Marco, a boy from an Italian family, living with his mother, grandmother, sister La Piccola and dog Spertina, time is measured not by calendar years, but by those intervals when closer to Christmas his father returns home from France where he worked as a miner to feed his family. The father of Marco had not an easy life: he left home early, lost his wife, stayed with a baby (Marco's sister Elisa, who is studying at a university), remarried, and now every spring after spending the winter home with children and the wife is forced to detach himself from his family and goes back to almost a year of work. The father once explained Marco why he leaves every year: imagine that someone puts a gun to your head and says: «Leave, or I'll pull the trigger!», and you should leave , there are no other choice.

Secret is here for Marco and for a reader at once becomes Marco's sister Elisa. The boy accidentally sees his sister in the woods kissing with some man who once saved Marco’s dog. Elisa's secret meetings with the stranger will stimulate mind of the narrator because his father and mother still can not guess who their daughter secretly meets with.

«The Homecoming Party» is a portrait of Italian small-town life. Here you all day play football, walk the dog in the woods and eat your mother's food, watch out for your sister, and the worst that can happen - you will get a fever, and even then it will play into your hands.

This book is hardly something special, it is too conflict-free, but you can not to dislike it. You can pull the trigger, I'm staying.

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