Carlotto, Massimo - 'The Goodbye Kiss' (translated by Lawrence Venuti)
Massimo Carlotto's real life experiences of being on the run and falsely charged have found their way into both of his titles that I've read. In THE COLOMBIAN MULE, the main character, the 'Alligator', is on the side of the good but the hero or more accurately anti-hero in THE GOODBYE KISS is just out for himself and nobody can stand in the way to his getting what everybody else has.
We're introduced to Giorgio Pellegrini as he executes a fellow Italian, both members of a Central American guerrilla group where they have been hiding, trying to avoid a murder charge back in Italy. Through carelessness, in a protest gone wrong, they had blown up a security guard.
Pellegrini eventually returns to Europe and in Paris he blackmails his former associates into getting another prisoner to take the rap for his murder charge. He serves a short prison sentence back in Italy where he comes to the notice of a bent policeman, Anedda, before he is released to work at a nightclub. Pellegrini and Anedda continue to help each other as Pellegrini tries to become respectable, at least to outward appearances. Along the way Pellegrini murders, robs and betrays anyone that he can.
THE GOODBYE KISS is the story of Pellegrini's journey from wanted criminal to respectable businessman and is compelling reading despite a severe desire for him to get his comeuppance. Sparely written, it conveys a lot in a mere 144 pages and amoral and unlikeable as he is, Pellegrini will stay in your head long after the book is closed. Carlotto's Italy is a corrupt place far removed from that of any tourist brochure.
EUROPA EDITIONS have recently published a US edition of Massimo Carlotto's DEATH'S DARK ABYSS, also translated by Lawrence Venuti. The UK edition will be available in February 2007.
Karen Meek, England