Monday, October 8, 2012

REVIEW: I Hadn't Understood, by Diego de Silva

I Hadn't Understood, by Diego de Silva. Published 2012 by Europa Editions. Crime Fiction. Translated from the Italian.

If you like teh funny, get this book now.

I Hadn't Understood is the story of sad-sack lawyer Vincenzo Malinconico, a loser whose luck is about to change. Or is it? His wife has left him; his son is undergoing a crisis; he's at the bottom of his profession, making, as he says, less than a waitress with no clients and nothing to do but sit in his Ikea-furnished office and avoid a yappy little dog who's making everyone in the building miserable.

Author Diego de Silva writes the book from Vincenzo's mad first-person point of view, and Vincenzo is hysterical. He rants. He goes off on tangents. He overexplains everything. And there's a lot to explain. His marriage to Nives is finished and she's living with an architect, but their relationship is nothing but unfinished business. At the same time, he's falling hard for Alessandra Persiano, a beautiful and successful attorney who, for some reason, seems to be very interested in him, too. Oh, and his career. Vincenzo is approached by the Italian mob to defend a loser like himself, one Mimmo lo Burzone, whose dog dug up a hand in his backyard. Mimmo runs a "chop shop" for the mob, but it's not cars he chops up and he's got some serious explaining to do.  Toss in the henchman the mob's got following Vincenzo around town plus Vincenzo's surly son and daughter, and let the games begin.

I loved this book. It is just so funny. There are long sections of nothing but whatever's on Vincenzo's mind at the moment, and those are the best parts of the book. The plot is interesting but a little thin truth be told; this is a book about voice and character and Vincenzo's head is one of the funniest places I've spent time in a while. Even the violence is cartoonish rather than gruesome. There is a dark side- all those bodies, all those fights, and the malevolent influence of the Mafia on the Italian legal system and its potential to corrupt a decent guy like Vincenzo are serious things. But don't dwell on all that. Just enjoy getting to know Vincè and following his adventures. It's worth it.

This is my 12th book for the 2012 Challenge so technically I could be done for the year, but the 50-odd unread Europas on my bookshelf say I'm not. Plus that one I'm going to buy at work today. You know how it goes.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.