It's Getting Later All the Time

Antonio Tabucchi, Author, Alastair McEwen, Translator , trans. from the Italian by Alistair McEwan. New Directions $15.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1546-6

This epistolary novel is composed of 18 love letters; the fictional authors are 17 men and one woman, whose sweeping, summative voice closes the collection abruptly. Are all the letters addressed to her? Does she even exist? There are no names—she is, variously My dear; My love; My sweet Ophelia (a nickname), among other second-person addresses. Written from places all over Europe, the letters are intimate and often exquisite, lingering over transcendent details of landscape, or ruefully soliloquizing on memory. One rancorous letter, "A Good Man Like You," recalls a betrayal seven years in the past, while another contemplates a journey never taken: "Do you remember when we didn't go to Samarkand?" The whole makes for delicious voyeurism, leavened with pointed bafflement at these partially rendered relationships: just as the reader wishes for all the gaps to be filled in, the letter writers wish to re-compose fractured relationships. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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