cover image Quiet Chaos

Quiet Chaos

Sandro Veronesi, trans. from the Italian by Michael F. Moore, Ecco, $13.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-157294-4

In Veronesi's absorbing second novel translated into English (after The Force of the Past), Italian television executive Pietro Paladini saves a woman from drowning at the exact moment his wife, Lara, suddenly dies. After the unexpected death, Pietro becomes enveloped in a strange calm, and he spends each day outside his daughter's school, observing the quiet rhythms of life. Meanwhile, his bosses visit him to share cryptic information about a messy corporate merger, and his co-workers, buckling under the strain of the merger, turn to him for advice and go a little crazy. Things get even messier when Pietro encounters the woman he rescued, Eleonora, a wealthy seductress whose life has also been upended by that pivotal moment. Veronesi finds some success in this courageous and difficult project, creating an unreliable narrator who feels an unusual manifestation of grief, though the subplots are so crudely satirical that it's unclear where the winking satire ends and the realist psychological drama begins. Moore's translation is commendable, especially considering the cacophony of voices and Pietro's racing, fractured narration as he dwells in that space between sorrow and madness. (Apr.)