Separate Rooms

Pier Vittdelli Tondelli, Author
Pier Vittdelli Tondelli, Author Serpent's Tail $18 (185p) ISBN 978-1-85242-223-3
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The success of Tondelli's (1955-1991) melancholy Italian novel relies almost solely on the narrator's voice, which is steady, honest and believable. It is the voice of Leo, an Italian writer whose German lover, Thomas, has recently died. On a plane from Paris to Munich Leo reminisces about their relationship, which influenced his life in myriad ways. Their attraction to each other was so intense and troubling that at one point Leo suggested that the only way they might survive each other would be to live apart and travel together each summer--hence the ``separate rooms'' of the title. Leo's story is a road novel of memory. He recounts experiences in various cities, and all add up to his failure to accept Thomas's death and the possibility of new love. The translation is slightly clunky at times but generally unobtrusive, and Leo's emotions and thoughts on topics ranging from his childlessness to the decay of old Europe are unique and expressed in tangible terms--when he returns to his childhood home in the Po Valley and feels displaced there, he can barely swallow the food his mother prepares for him, ``the food from his own land.'' This was Tondelli's last novel, and his first to appear in English. (June)
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