Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Review: THE FUGITIVE, by Massimo Carlotto
Author Massimo Carlotto is widely considered to be the "King of Mediterranean Noir," one of the most popular authors in Europe of gritty, dark crime fiction. I'm a big fan of his; I've read everything he's published with Europa Editions and I'm always looking for more. The Fugitive is a memoir he wrote about his life on the lam in the 1970s basically. Before he was a crime writer, he was an innocent man convicted of murder at the center of a famous and widely discussed case that helped change the Italian system of jurisprudence. He was convicted, then he was acquitted, then he was convicted again, and then he ran. He ran to France and then to Mexico, where his journey ended and he was sent back to Italy where he turned himself in. Then he received a presidential pardon and his life took yet another turn.
The book covers his case from beginning to end but focuses on the years he spent in hiding. Parts of it read like a virtual how-to on how to live underground. He played different characters in his attempts to blend in- a tourist, or a businessman, or an intellectual. He hung out with revolutionaries and political types, with artists and writers and with ordinary people on the margins like himself. He conducted love affairs and friendships. He witnessed heartbreak, death and horrible things. He became ill in prison and nearly died. But eventually he was vindicated.
The Fugitive is a fascinating and addictive read. The narrative doesn't always stay on track chronologically; he veers from topic to topic sometimes, and one reviewer hit it on the head when he said that the book reads like the conversation you would expect to have with Carlotto over a leisurely Italian dinner with lots of wine and plates passed around. His tone is casual yet there is an urgent emotional undercurrent that works to keep the reader's interest. He comes across as desperate and scared and lacking control, a man who is always trying to maintain control of his life and often failing.
This is my fifth book for the 2013 Europa Challenge!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Europa Editions.