Friday, January 22, 2016

FFB: At the End of a Dull Day -- Massimo Carlotto (Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar)

At the End of a Dull Day is a fairly recent book, only a couple of years old, at least in the U.S.  I would never have known about it if Dave Zeltserman hadn't raved about it on Facebook, so I owe him one.  

The book is the sequel to The Goodbye Kiss, which I haven't read.  Since events of that book, eleven years in the past, in which he was, among other things a terrorist, a killer, and a bank robber, the narrator, Giorgio Pellegrini, has led what for him is a sedate life.  He owns a restaurant, and his major criminal activity is the sex trade.  But don't let that fool you.  Pellegrini would be right at home in the pages of a Jim Thompson novel.  He's a thoroughly detestable psychopath.  He dominates and degrades women, including his wife.  He treats the women in his sex ring as nothing more than disposable objects.  All he needs is one little push to set him back on his old path.

The push is provided by his supposed friend and lawyer, a politician named Sante Brianese, who cheats him in a business deal.  Pellegrini believes he's owed 2 million Euros, and he's going to get it, one way one another.  However, when he pushes Brianese, the politician pushes back twice as hard.  Or even more.  Things look bad for Pelligrini, but then he decides that “The time had come to remember who I once was, what I’d done to get ahead. I’d shot my best friend in the head, I’d betrayed, cheated, raped, robbed, and eliminated anyone who got in the way of my reaching my objective.” And now he's ready to do it again. 

He does.

A lot of people have called this book "noir."  It doesn't fit my definition of that term, but it might fit yours.  It's dark, for sure.  It has moments of humor, but it's not going to make anybody laugh out loud.  It moves fast, and it's a bit over 180 pages long, just about the length of an old Gold Medal.  Come to think of it, it's sort of like a Gold Medal novel for the new millennium.  I've already ordered a copy of The Goodbye Kiss.


Tom Johnson said...

I just couldn't get into this. I tossed the book after reading how he degraded the women, and they loved it. Sick.

J F Norris said...

Good luck with the first book, Bill. I side with Tom. I intensely disliked The Goodbye Kiss and I like dark crime novels. I thought it was beyond noir, more of a nihilistic romp and I can't abide nihilistic literature. It was also overly repetitive. I summed it up like this five years ago: "To read multiple variations on the theme of the crook who cannot reform, who realizes that life outside of a prison is no different than the life inside, that all is corruption, that life is cheap and short so damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, was not going to approach anything near a fulfilling reading experience." I never got past the first two chapters.

Rick Robinson said...

I never expect to laugh out loud when reading noir. Close my eyes, grit my teeth, sigh and loo out the window, mutter "ah, sh*t, but laugh out loud? Uh uh.