cover image Three O’Clock in the Morning

Three O’Clock in the Morning

Gianrico Carofiglio. Harpervia, $25.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-302844-9

Former Italian senator and prosecutor Carofiglio (A Fine Line) takes a break from his Guido Guerrieri crime series with this poignant and moving father/son story. Antonio, an Italian 18-year-old whose parents are separated, is largely estranged from his father; he suffers bouts of epilepsy and, having endured years of failed treatments, is told by a specialist in Marseilles that he may be able to be cured. First, though, the doctor must test how Antonio’s brain reacts to stress. To that end, Antonio is ordered to not sleep for two days, and he spends the 48 hours awake in the city, accompanied by his father. He asks his dad about a scar, which leads to a how-I-met-your-mother story, and a dazzling episode, set in a jazz club, has Antonio marveling at his father playing piano on stage. Then the pair talk about mathematics and magical thinking, and after they visit a porno shop his father recounts visiting a brothel. They eventually get invited to a party where Antonio has a transformative experience. The father and son’s odyssey through the gritty streets of Marseilles is laced with many memorable details, such as the single-file pack of dogs that reminds Antonio of the Abbey Road cover, and Carofiglio shines with vivid descriptions of Antonio’s epilepsy fits (“I had a bedspread that was light blue, almost sky blue. All at once that pale, relaxing colour grew threatening...and went right through me with a violence that was unreal”). Antonio’s catalog of intimate experiences, whether painful, pleasurable, or bittersweet, make for an enchanting coming-of-age tale. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (Mar.)