Stefano Benni. Europa Editions, $16.95 (390pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-44-0
Time is out of joint in this quasi-fantasy novel by Italian author Benni (Margherita Dolce Vita), whose young hero, Luperto, is stopped on his way to school by God, who, dressed in rags and swarmed by flies, gives Luperto a ""duoclock,"" or the ability to see the future. Luperto, now called Timeskipper, grows up the son of a woodcarver in a small village in post-war Italy. Timeskipper goes away to the city to be educated, flirts with communism, plays soccer, becomes a newspaper reporter, observes the student unrest that sweeps Europe in 1968 and returns home to take part in his village's losing war between tradition and progress. He also can't forget Selene, the on-again off-again love of his life. At key points, Timeskipper's duoclock enables him to see possible futures, but shorn of the underused gimmick, this is a fairly stock coming-of-age story dressed up with supporting characters right out of a Fellini movie. Many Italian political references will be lost on the average American reader, making this translation one that may have trouble finding with a larger audience.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008