What to say first about this Italian lampoon of writers' awards, a satire of The Prize for which three writers, The Beginner, The Writer and The Master are all nominated and are all working their way through the various avenues of the publishing world. Well, the first thing I would say is that I am pleased it has now been translated into English, giving me the opportunity to read and enjoy it. There are moments that are laugh out loud funny, moments that are touching, moments that I wanted the writer (not The Writer) to erase and do over. But that's what satire is. It challenges.
There are little gems like the following line inserted into The Writer's brain when thinking of his admirers.
For some unknown but human reason, recognizing
themselves in a character in a novel made it possible
for them to recognize themselves as individuals in the
real world. It was like a literary Eucharist that
signified their rebirth, their transition to a new
life. (loc 325)
And this thought from The Beginner:
Before closing the door, attracted by the moist
emptiness, he would stand there for seconds on end
listening to the hypnotic hum of the refrigerant in
the coils of the machine. This--he was almost convinced
--must be the closest thing to the noise of an
intelligence at work. If there had ever been such a
thing as the sound of writing, an inner, metaphysical
sound, it absolutely had to be just like the sound of
his refrigerator, so different from the vulgar
pounding of a keyboard. (loc 459)
And lastly, from The Master:
"Life is merely passing time and the desire to be
loved. Nothing else."
Life, life, life...How unbearable they were, these
writers always talking about life. What do they even
know of life? Have they ever lived? Poets, yes, they
know about it. Other writers only imagine it. Scoundrels
who climb naked onto a ledge and threaten to throw
themselves off if nobody will listen to them, that's
what writers are. If it wasn't for poets, who question
every certainty in order to climb higher, and who
extend to them the support of poetry in order to get them
down like firemen with a scared cat... Life, yes, but other
people's thought The Master. (loc 969)
Well now you have a glimpse into the brains and minds of the protagonists, those who hope for the ultimate Prize. And also I hope you have an idea of the writing that is here for your reading pleasure. I did, indeed, find it a pleasure. A few minor quibbles with the way the set up of the avian introduction and coda were presented perhaps, but otherwise, I definitely recommend this to my literary-minded friends.
An ecopy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.