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Booklist: "Perhaps the most difficult kind of noir novel to pull off is 'the crime tale narrated by a bad guy' [...] Europeans manage this trick much better than Americans, as Carlotto demonstrates here."

Date: Jan 16 2006

Perhaps the most difficult kind of noir novel to pull off is “the crime tale narrated by a bad guy”––not a crook with a heart of gold but somebody who does bad stuff for bad reasons. Europeans manage this trick much better than Americans, as Carlotto demonstrates here. Giorgio Pellegrino, a former left-wing terrorist, wants to return to Italy and is willing to do anything––including selling out his former friends––to do so. And, worse, he wants a shot at respectability even if it takes an armored-car holdup and numerous murders to make his dream possible. And, of course, he treats women brutally. No, there's nothing to like about Giorgio, yet we watch transfixed as he makes his climb from sewer to suburbs, one bloody rung at a time. The flat narration––just-the-facts-ma'am, without the Dragnet morality––drips with irony as Giorgio announces, “I could finally be like everybody else.” Carlotto is highly regarded in Italy, but his work has never received wide distribution here.

That needs to change.

by Bill Ott

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