cover image Left Handed Dreams: None

Left Handed Dreams: None

Francesca Duranti. Delphinium Books, $20 (180pp) ISBN 978-1-883285-19-7

In this bittersweet, whimsical, slyly intelligent ""what if"" story by popular, prize-winning Italian novelist Duranti, NYU professor Martina Satriano lives a solitary life, devoted to her students, her workout routine and a bizarre contraption of her own construction that she calls ""the Machine."" Assembled around a tape recorder, the Machine records Martina's dreams and then wakes her each morning, merging its voice artfully (and quasi-magically) with her consciousness. A trip to Italy, where Martina attends her mother's funeral and visits her bourgeois sister Carmelina, gives the self-absorbed professorDand thereby the MachineDmuch food for thought. But it is Martina's New York adventures with a brace of Italian suitors that finally manage to jolt her out of her reliance on the mechanical ministrations of her bedside companion. First to come wooing is Prof. Sebastiano Cerignola. The sumptuous dinners Martina enjoys with him seem to engage her more than the man himself (recipes are provided at the book's conclusion). A miraculous twist of fate brings Constantino, an old childhood flame who may always have been her true love, back into Martina's life. Written as a fantasy lecture to the narrator's students in her European cultural history course, this novel is, as the title suggests, an exploration of the creative hemisphere of the brain. Like Italo Calvino's paean to three of the five senses, Under the Jaguar Sun, Duranti's novel offers up rewarding food for thought with the suggestion that, when ideas fail, there remain sumptuous recipes for just plain food. (Nov.)