cover image Distant Light

Distant Light

Antonio Moresco, trans. from the Italian by Mary Ann Newman. Archipelago (PRH, dist.), $16 trade paper (140p) ISBN 978-0-914671-42-8

“I have come here to disappear,” begins Italian writer Moresco’s mysterious new book. And indeed, its hermit narrator seems to have come to the right place: a desolate and abandoned village in an unspecified forest where his only companion is a crippled dog, and his only conversation is with the swallows. But he may not be as alone as thinks he is; an inexplicable light in the wood leads him to pay a visit to a leading UFO expert in search of answers. But instead of extraterrestrial visitors, he finds a young boy called Putty, who also lives alone, seemingly unsupervised in the forest’s heart, fretting over homework from a school we never see. As Putty and the narrator begin an enigmatic friendship, more questions come to the fore, as the narrator’s house is frequently rattled by tremors that, combined with the apocalyptic weather conditions, seem to indicate the story might be set at a precipice between worlds. Finally, an investigation into Putty’s past alerts the narrator to just how far off the beaten track he has strayed. Despite its fable-like structure and brevity, Moresco has Kafka’s power to unnerve, and Walser’s genial strangeness. Something like a supernatural modernist story, Distant Light’s real territory is dreams, where readers may find the book’s imagery still lingering. (Mar.)