cover image Everybody’s Right

Everybody’s Right

Paolo Sorrentino, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Europa, $15 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-60945-052-6

Italian director Sorrentino’s debut novel is all about Tony Pagoda—world-renowned crooner, cokehead, and male chauvinist whose “favorite subject” is himself. In light of Tony’s egotism, every other character falls quickly by the wayside, allowing for very little conflict in the story. The narrative arc consists primarily of Tony wandering around New York, Italy, and Brazil, committing various offenses against others, getting away with them (and, more often than not, getting rewarded for said transgressions), and still somehow conjuring the gall to pity himself. The vignettes that showcase Tony’s moral ineptitude are decidedly entertaining, whereas his philosophical rants on youth, political economy, and, of course, love, are often oblique and long-winded. And when Tony (rarely) does engage in a genuine emotional interaction, Sorrentino breaks the first rule of Creative Writing 101: show, don’t tell. Perhaps, given his roots in film, we can forgive him, but “I’m crying like a little baby boy” does not inspire empathy. To Sorrentino’s credit, however, Tony is detestable, and making a character believable enough to hate is an accomplishment. (Oct.)