Memory of the Abyss by Marcello Fois
Translator – Patrick Creagh
Original title – Memoria del vuoto
Source – review copy
Well he we go its been five-year since Maclehose press started publishing their wonderful books. I’ve been reviewing their books since the blog started ,so I came up with the idea of Maclehose press week ,to highlight the wonderful books they publish ,it also helping clear the backlog of books I ve read and not reviewed .So here we go with Marcello Fois this is his second book to reach us in english .He is Italian writer ,playwright and screenwriter he studied Italian at the university of Bologna ,he then published his first book in 1992 aged 32 and has since published 25 books in Italian ,he has also written a libretto for an opera ,also episodes for an Italian TV series .
That he would be called Samuele was decided by Father Marci :
“Samuele was one of god’s knight .The fact is that every time the children of isarel failed to keep the covenant which they made with god which was honour him above all things.
Even his name has a mythical beginning
Memory of the Abyss is set in Sardinia like an earlier book I read by Maclehose also set in Sardinia from a female perspective that was Accabadoa by Michela Murgia this book is told from a male perspective and roughly at the same time ,So the book is set in Sardinia just as Il Duce has come to power and the main character is returning to Italy after being in North Africa .This Guy Samuele Stocchino is a well know Italian gangster ,what Fois has done is taken his return to Italy and his battle with the fascist forces and reimagined him as an almost mythical figure .We see him as a youngster enlist in the army go to North Africa to fight for the italian army against the natives .He returns disliking the empire italy has built ,but also still very proud of being Italian .He also hates what Il Duce and his fascist followers are doing to his homeland .Thus we see how this man takes on the authorities ,killing and genrally causing trouble as he does so the price on his head grows as he ends up battling with just one figure from the regime who really want to get Samuele ,but his legend grows .So we see a mythical figure appearing from the pages a man of legend .
I saw Stocchino when everyone was saying he was dead ,and the Manai and Bardi clans and all their friends had paid for a mass and a new processional rob for the madonna ,embroidered by the nuns ,as well as jewels and a crown of solid silver .
Near the end his myth is huge he almost becomes a myth .
This book fits in the field of lack comedies dealing with war ,So the real life gangster Stocchino becomes like an Italian robin hood or kray twins where the fact he is a killer is overshadow by the fact he is fighting Fascism and trying to keep hold of an older vision of Italy he loved .The language of this book is very rich one imagines Patrick Creagh had a real task trying to get the beauty of Fois writing into English and I think he has succeed ,Fois imagery at times reminds you the richness you find in the Italian masters where you look and keep seeing more and more detail ,this is like that I kept finding myself turn back and rereading passages to get full beauty of the words .Yet again the feel of Sardinia is a world of old values and traditions fighting the changing world rather similar to the world of Michela Murgia painted in the earlier Maclehose book I’d read also set in Sardinia .