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July 2005

Italian For Beginners

We'd rather be in Italy this summer, but since we're not, we might as well pull up an armchair and a bottle of dolcetto and print out a few "antipasti" from WWB. But there are no Tuscan clichés in this batch, only a particular attention to the physical and the paradoxical. Elena Ferrante turns to lingerie to explore a middle-aged woman's feelings about her mother and herself. The hilarious and fabulous Matteo Bianchi gives us a proverbial "Italian mother" who finds her own freedom at a Gay Pride Parade. (Check out Matteo's website for some contemporary love of retro). The elegant Filippo Tuena gives us an utterly convincing portrait of a writer haunted by having excised the death of his father from his novel, while Melania Mazzucco finds her characters taking on lives, and histories, of their own. Laura Pariani's elderly painter finds the young object of his affection far less innocent than his infatuation; Ornela Vorpsi's mordant yet virginal Albanian teen skewers her prurient elders. If you're in a classic mood, we recommend Ignazio Silone's melancholy and beautiful "At the Foot of an Almond Tree." Special thanks to our brilliant Italian editor friend Benedetta Centovalli, who has gathered the majority of the selections for this feature and more to come next month. Finally, if you missed the PEN World Voices Literary Festival, click here to hear audio clips of WWB-featured authors and to see video of the WWB-sponsored panel discussion on "Love and Hate."

Completely Friday
By Luis García Montero
By the detergents and dish soap by the orderly books and broom on the floor, by the clean windows, by the table without papers, notebooks or pens, by the easy chairs without newspapers, whoever approaches…
Translated from Spanish by Katie King
Troublesome Love
By Elena Ferrante
Once he was certain that a man in the crowd had touched her. In front of everyone he hit her.
Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein
At the Foot of an Almond Tree
By Ignazio Silone
What is the particular sadness felt by anyone who attempts, after years of absence from a region where he once lived for a long time, to stop and observe-without being seen or recognized-the ordinary…
Translated from Italian by Stanislao G. Pugliese
Variations on the La-Z-Boy Recliner, and Dinner with the Editor
By Filippo Tuena
He knows that every published book is an imperfect representation of the book one imagined writing, its final shape determined by painful exclusions, second thoughts, and corrections that mercilessly…
Translated from Italian by Marina Harss
There are also moments when we leave behind words of love and silences to talk about poetry. You rest your voice in the past and recall the title of a book, The story behind some verses, adolescent nights…
Translated from Spanish