Romano Bilenchi's classic coming of age story, never before published in English, is set in northern Tuscany in the 1950s. The small hill towns and rolling Tuscan countryside provide a suggestive and constantly changing backdrop to a story that is thoroughly Italian in its particulars?its smells, sounds and sights?but universal in its themes. ...
Romano Bilenchi's classic coming of age story, never before published in English, is set in northern Tuscany in the 1950s. The small hill towns and rolling Tuscan countryside provide a suggestive and constantly changing backdrop to a story that is thoroughly Italian in its particulars?its smells, sounds and sights?but universal in its themes. Here, the changing seasons stir both the vibrant hues of Bilenchi's Tuscany and the many moods of his young nameless protagonist. But the abiding atmosphere in this tale is, as the title suggests, wintery. Following the death of his beloved grandfather, a chill has descended upon the teenage narrator of this classic tale, leaving him estranged from friends, family, and eventually even from nature itself? although always vivid and animated, the natural splendor of central Italy becomes increasingly harsh and hostile throughout this story. The protagonist's growing awareness of his own and others? sexuality leads to a series of difficult, confusing encounters that push him even further within himself. Each small awakening, each intimation of the adult world, with all its alarming ribaldry and vulgarity, drives him further from his kind. His reluctant journey into the adult world culminates in a seemingly innocent erotic adventure that, when discovered, will possess all the destructive potential of a natural disaster and at the same time all the potential for rebirth of a new spring.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-09-28 A teenager in 1920s Tuscany slowly realizes the callousness of humanity in this first English translation of Bilenchi's (1909-1989) haunting novella. The nameless narrator watches his family's powerlessness in the wake of a drought, hard financial times and nasty neighborhood gossip. After the drought, the boy is unnerved by his grandfather's apparent dementia, and his suspicions that all relationships are tenuous are confirmed when he loses friends over trivial matters. But then an irreconcilable rift occurs between the narrator and his best friend, and the story gains momentum. The focus shifts from descriptions of the Tuscan countryside to appropriately jarring accounts of the boy's sexual awakening, the most disturbing of which involves Gino, a farmer's son who preys on young women in a sunflower field. The narrator is both interested and repelled by sex, but it's not until he stays with a group of family friends, who recount abortions and unhappy marriages, that he truly understands that his innocence is gone. Goldstein, an editor at the New Yorker, beautifully translates this timeless tale of discomfort, rejection and isolation. (Nov.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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