I received an advanced review copy of this title from Archipelago Press. The original novella was published in Italian in 2013 and this edition has been translated into English by Richard Dixon.
This is a short yet powerful book that raises many more questions about the mental state of the main character than it answers. We are led to understand from the beginning that the narrator is living alone in the mountains in what is now an abandoned village. The only time he has interaction with other human beings is when he drives his car down the mountain to another small village. He seems to do this only when he needs food or supplies.
The narrator spends quite a bit of time interacting with nature and even talking to the swallows, the fireflies and the trees that surround him. Since he lives in complete solitude without an trace of another human around, he is captivated by a light he sees in the distance at the same time every night. He spends a lot of time speculating what the light could be and it takes him a while to work up the courage to investigate the light.
I won’t fully give away what he finds when he investigates that light, but I will say that it brings him into contact with another person. His interaction with this person makes us question the narrator’s mental state and what circumstances have brought him to live alone on that isolated mountain. There is one sentence, which one could easily miss, in which he does say that at one point he was in the military but now chooses to live in complete solitude. We are left to speculate if was his experience as a soldier that forced him to reject all human contact.
The book has an eerie and mysterious feeling to it, especially when the narrator figures out what is causing that light in the distance. I would go so far as to even categorize the book as magical realism. The narrator seems calm as he is relating his matter-of-fact existence among the foliage and animals on the mountain. But there is an underlying uneasiness about him the punctuates the story and keeps us turning the pages to finds out what happens to this strange narrator.
This is a very quick read, one that can be finished over the course of an afternoon. I would love to hear what others think about this story since there is quite a bit of symbolism in this book that would make excellent topics for discussion.
About The Author:
Antonio Moresco did not find a publisher until late in his career, after being turned down by several editors. His output is centred on the monumental trilogy L’increato, whose three volumes are: Gli esordi (Feltrinelli 1998, republished by Mondadori in 2011 – 673 pages), Canti del caos (part 1 by Feltrinelli in 2001, part 2 by Rizzoli in 2003; republished by Mondadori in 2009 – 1072 pages), and Gli increati (Mondadori 2015).