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Force of the Past [Paperback]

Sandro Veronesi
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

What do we know about our parents --
their true ideals, beliefs, and dreams?
How can we be certain?

Shortly after his father's death, Gianni Orzan reaches the disturbing conclusion that his father did not love him. Aloof and dismissive, Maurizio Orzan seldom had anything to say to his son. Moreover, he was a staunch fascist.

Or so Gianni thought. Then comes the day he's contacted by a complete stranger who has a disquieting familiarity with his life. In what amounts to kidnapping, the stranger pursues an urgent mission: to convince Gianni that the father he knew was an illusion; that Maurizio was, in fact, a double agent for the KGB.

What is Gianni to believe? If this stranger's revelations are true, they threaten to destroy Gianni's steadfast beliefs about his father's shameful, self-created identity and promise to send his life crashing down around him.

Narrated with deft wit and subtle reflection, The Force of the Past -- winner of Italy's Viareggio-Repaci Prize and the Premio Campiello and a finalist for the Zerilli-Marimò prize -- is an insightful look at how one son tries to comprehend his father's mysterious complexities, as well as a provocative, ironic examination of how men construct their own subjective versions of reality.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

How well can we know anyone we are close to? That is the question narrator Gianni Orzan strives to answer in Veronesi's prize-winning seventh novel and first English-language release. Mere weeks after Gianni's father is buried in contemporary Rome, Gianni, a writer of children's books, is confronted by a menacing cab driver who suggests that Gianni's father led a life of espionage. Is it possible his father was a KGB operative from 1945 to his death? And how does the cab driver know such intimate details about the family? Veronesi is far more concerned with Gianni's inner workings and self-doubt-his anguish at having been unable to get along with his father, his worries about his weaknesses as a writer and his distress at the prospect of his wife's infidelity-than with the suspense story underpinning his narrative. But Gianni's companionable voice, and Veronesi's talent for evoking the texture of everyday life in Rome ("outside, the friendly sounds... began to reemerge: an ambulance siren, warped by the Doppler effect, the monstrous roar of an accelerating motorcycle") give the novel a comfortable, conversational feel. The meandering interior monologues pose a challenge for the translator, who makes an admirable effort, but sometimes stumbles into poetic opacity-"The sun was slowly setting over the Janiculum, and the muezzin of abuse had struck up the same litany as the day before, with the same desperation as the day before"-and the secondary characters are mostly just grist for Gianni's musings. Nevertheless, this is a novel of low-key charms and roundabout pleasures.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* After being confronted by a strange man who seems to know an uncomfortable amount of information about his family, Gianni Orzean thinks the worst and escapes with his family to the countryside. Through the course of this novel, Orzan develops a relationship with this sinister man, and in doing so, strengthens his relationship with his recently deceased father (who Gianni never much liked). Gianni always knew his father to be a Fascist supporter and retired Italian army officer, often at odds with his left-wing son. What Gianni is told by this strange visitor, however, is that his father was really a KGB spy, carrying out his mission to infiltrate Italian fascism and the army. As Gianni struggles with whether to accept these stories as fact or fiction, and struggles to reconcile his relationship with his father, he also confronts some startling developments in his own family. Veronesi is a master storyteller who keeps his readers breathless until the very end. He captures a man's midlife reexamination of the relationship with his father perfectly, and without cliche--a nearly impossible feat. Michael Spinella
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Force of the Narrative July 19 2003
Format:Hardcover
Veronesi's book is two stories in one. First is a novel about coming to grips with the possibility that the people you think you know best -- your father, your mother, your siblings, your spouse, your child, and most importantly, yourself -- may not be at all what you think. Real people have layers and depths which even a lifetime together might not reveal. To a very large degree we are all putting up fronts of how we want to be seen, and like the facade on a building, our 'public face' may or may not reflect the actual construction beneath.
Veronesi's second story is the interior monologue we all perform, questioning ourselves and the events around us in a constant assessment of the world and our place in it. This Proustian 'stream-of-consciousness' has never been so well depicted as in Gianni Orzan's story, as the central character effortlessly glides between the here-and-now and remembrances of things past. It 'illuminates' (in the Medieval sense) the story of his life (story one), giving the reader a rare first-person glimpse into the depths of the soul.
Working your way through the novel is like being on an archeological dig, digging down through buried layers to bring up something tangible, something that can be held up as truth. It is a process of discovery which both satisfies, and unsettles you as you begin to think about the unseen history around you.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Force of the Narrative July 19 2003
By Robert Carlberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Veronesi's book is two stories in one. First is a novel about coming to grips with the possibility that the people you think you know best -- your father, your mother, your siblings, your spouse, your child, and most importantly, yourself -- may not be at all what you think. Real people have layers and depths which even a lifetime together might not reveal. To a very large degree we are all putting up fronts of how we want to be seen, and like the facade on a building, our 'public face' may or may not reflect the actual construction beneath.
Veronesi's second story is the interior monologue we all perform, questioning ourselves and the events around us in a constant assessment of the world and our place in it. This Proustian 'stream-of-consciousness' has never been so well depicted as in Gianni Orzan's story, as the central character effortlessly glides between the here-and-now and remembrances of things past. It 'illuminates' (in the Medieval sense) the story of his life (story one), giving the reader a rare first-person glimpse into the depths of the soul.
Working your way through the novel is like being on an archeological dig, digging down through buried layers to bring up something tangible, something that can be held up as truth. It is a process of discovery which both satisfies, and unsettles you as you begin to think about the unseen history around you.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, not great Feb. 7 2010
By Michele Valsecchi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
the book was new, but there was a little pen mark on the side and the pages were cut irregularly like if not everything went as it was supposed to be in production. no problem to read though and I paid about nothing for it
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