Animal Spirit

Francesca Marciano. Pantheon, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4815-9
Marciano’s sharp-eyed and effortlessly graceful collection (after Rules of the Wild), set largely in the author’s native Italy, explores the ways people’s animalistic instincts drive relationships. In “Terrible Things Could Happen to Us,” wealthy family man Sandro falls in love with his yoga teacher, and Marciano’s lack of sentimentality keeps things taut until a devastating denouement, which leaves Sandro speechless, “like an actor who has forgotten his lines.” In “The Girl,” a middle-aged Hungarian tries to convince a young Italian woman to join the circus and help in his snake-charming act. The title story follows two couples sharing an island vacation house as their varying degrees of uncertainty about their futures coalesce around a midnight encounter with a sheep—or is it a poodle?—that may or may not need to be rescued. In “There Might Be Blood,” Diana decamps to Rome to write her long-deferred novel. Rather than writing, she obsesses over seagulls, which plague the city and prevent her from enjoying her terrace near Piazza Navona. Diana decides to enlist Ivo, a falconer, whose birds, Queen and Darko, can hunt the gulls. In this story, and throughout the collection, Marciano skillfully uses her characters’ relationships with animals as metaphors to explore their humanity. Polished and compulsively readable, this is a real treat. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/27/2020
Release date: 06/16/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-5247-4816-6
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