cover image Death's Dark Abyss

Death's Dark Abyss

Massimo Carlotto, , trans. from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti. . Europa, $14.95 (152pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-18-1

Carlotto (The Goodbye Kiss ), who served time for a murder he didn't commit before becoming a writer, has crafted a subtle and disturbing tale of the effects of violence on its survivors. Wine salesman Silvano Contin's unremarkable but happy life is irrevocably shattered when a pair of bank robbers seize his wife and young son as hostages, and then execute them. Unable to endure much human contact, Contin ekes out a living repairing shoes. When the one murderer who was apprehended is diagnosed with cancer, he seeks Contin's assistance in gaining an early release from incarceration. The widower's desire for justice—and the identity of the killer who escaped scot-free—leads him to make some unusual decisions and propels him down a very dark road. The author manages to make Contin's descent into hell plausible and heartbreaking, and devises an ingenious and even touching resolution. (Oct.)