cover image Time Ages in a Hurry

Time Ages in a Hurry

Antonio Tabucchi, trans. from the Italian by Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani. Archipelago (Random, dist.), $16 trade paper (212p) ISBN 978-0-914671-05-3

In this collection of short stories, the late Tabucchi (The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico) plays with philosophical themes such as the circularity of memory and time, depicting characters who struggle to preserve voices they can no longer hear and to communicate these echoes to others. In “Drip, Drop, Drippity-Drop,” a man visits his sick aunt in the hospital, where she unexpectedly begins relating stories of his forgotten childhood. As he tries to catch hold of these “memories”—the former selves he had lost—she tells him “this is how the past is made.” In some stories, new events can change the meaning of former ones: in “Between Generals,” a Hungarian general fights a losing battle on principle, is imprisoned most of his life, and finally spends his best days with the Soviet general to whom he had lost. In fact, many of Tabucchi’s characters are nearing the end of their lives and have lived through 20th-century horrors that younger generations cannot understand. For instance, in “Bucharest Hasn’t Changed a Bit,” an aged father recounts his painful experiences in Romania, complaining that memories can be told “but not transmitted.” His sensible son, meanwhile, points out the factual errors of his father’s version of events. Exposing memory for the fiction it is, these wonderful stories produce a melancholic nostalgia even as they undermine it. (Apr.)