Charlie Chaplin’s Last Dance by Fabio Stassi

charlie chaplin's last dance

Charlie Chaplin’s Last Dance by Fabio Stassi

Italian fiction

Original title – L’ultimo ballo di Charlot

Translator – STephen Twilley

Source – review copy

Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

Francis bacon

Fabio Stassi is a Rome born Italian writer ,that grew up in Scilly .He start writing whilst working in Rome in oriental studies ,he would write every day on his trip to work .He has so far written six book ,this Charlie Chaplin’s last dance is the first to be translated to English .The book its self won the prestigious Italian book prizes Premio campiello , prize Cielo D’Alcamo,  Award Alassio Hundred Books and Premio Leonardo Sciascia Caves Racalmare .

Death : enough,it’s getting late.

Man : Wait ,not yet .I’ll .. I’ll make you laugh ,it’s the

only thing I know how to do

Death : No one has ever made me laugh ,

Man : I will .I’m sure of it watch this .

Charlie gets a glimmer of hope from death as he has never laughed before .

The plot of Charlie Chaplin’s last dance is really in the title of the book ,we meet Charlie Chaplin  at the time is probably the most famous person alive on christmas eve 1971 , he is 82 years old but a father very ,late in his life and he gets a visit from Death his time is up .Charlie has been waiting thou he was told this would happen in 1910 by a fortune-teller so is ready to face death .But no Charlie wants ,more time so they strike up a bargain ,death will give him an extra year if He Charlie the greats comic of his age can make him death laugh .So Charlie manages after a few times ,so he has another year and so this carries on as death keeps to the same bargain if Charlie can keep him laughing on christmas eve every year .In-between Charlie starts to write down his history and life for his son to read when he grows up .From his humble beginnings in London on the Vaudeville stage ,to his earliest  days in America struggling to get by .To the big breakthrough in Hollywood in the silent film era , then his marriages  the decline of his career and his final years

                              Corsier-sur-Vevey 24 December 1977

Dear Christopher James ,

This evening will mark my eighty-eighth Christmas .Once again ,I will spend it with my family , and the story I am about to tell is my gift to you .I know that I owe you a debt I cannot settle .You’re my last child barely fifteen years old , conceived when I was more than seventy you will grow up without me .So now I need to hurry , to pass this on to you , before the news of my demise sparks a global uproar .

Charlie tells his life in a letter to his son .

Fabio Stassi has cleverly mix his childhood love of Charlie Chaplin ,he says in the back of the book since he was a boy and first read Chaplin’s autobiography ,he has reread it through out his life .He has taken the bones of that book and chucked in a mixer with Ingmar Bergman’s  Seventh seal and may I say the humour of Death from the teen comedy Bill and Ted’s bogus journey which of course saw death have a sense of humour and also play a mean double bass (although he doesn’t in this book ). Then he came up with a witty take on a man trying to avoid dying and looking back on his life .Also we see Charlie Chaplin match in his reason for wanting to live on ,in  what is  said in this article about the top five regrets of the dying .This is a fun book ,by a writer I hope gets more of his books translated if they are as fun as this one .

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. naomifrisby
    May 02, 2014 @ 20:36:08

    I love the sound of this.

    Reply

  2. Claire 'Word by Word'
    May 03, 2014 @ 06:25:11

    This reminds me of Mexican writer Francisco Haghenbeck’s The Secret Book of Frido Kahlo which I read last year. Frida is visited by and makes a pact with Death early on and thus the significance of her rituals around The Day of The Dead are given credence. The novel celebrates her extraordinary life, but always within the shadow of the apparition of Death and her attempts to keep him from her door.

    I wonder if Charlie Chaplin had any superstitions about Death like Frida Kahlo did? It seems appropriate that the book should be comic anyway.

    Reply

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