My love for Italy is full of clichés: pasta, Venezian bridges over canals, paintings, churches and caffe latte. I’m aware that I know tragically little of Italian literature, especially considering Italy and France share a border! I have a category for Italian writers on this blog, but the only book it records is a book about the Mafia (a great book, but that’s yet another cliché indeed!).
So when Pushkin Press, a London-based small press with lots of translations, offered me a review copy of About Time by Simona Sparaco, I jumped on the chance. The main character, Svevo Romano is a Roman yuppie, an arrogant, workaholic, cocaine-snorting womanizer a bit akin to Patrick Bateman from American psycho, without the serial killing part. I knew the cliché that Italian men were womanizers, but workaholic yuppies? I had no clue.
I have shared here more than once my interest for unfriendly main characters, and Svevo Romano fits the bill. Perhaps I have a hidden soft spot for bad boys, but not in real life, on paper only. I wouldn’t bear working with a real Svevo (even less on a date!), but on paper, he gets 100 pages to redeem himself or show me his doubts and complexities beyond his bastardy attitude.
The plot gets really riveting when time suddenly accelerates. I mean literally. For Svevo, and for him only, time gets quicker and whole hours disappear like seconds. Of course, this doesn’t go well with Svevo’s normal routine. He gets very upset, terrified, misses appointments, can’t keep track of what happens around him. His whole life becomes chaos.
I won’t tell any more, but it was a great ride all along. For a chance encounter, I feel tremendously lucky. I hope Ms. Sparaco will get translated again soon, and I’ll definitely add some Italian books to my next reading choices.