books of the month

Peter Turchin, armed monkey (UT)
Translated by Luca Fusari, Sarah Principe

Peter Turchin is a rather unique scientist. An entomologist by training, at a certain point in his academic life decided to abandon “science” to devote himself to the study of history and the application of mathematical models capable of tracking and predicting its dynamics. For this reason (and also for the fact that he began in almost perfect predictions), the most important newspapers in the world portrayed Turchin as a kind of incarnation of Harry Seldon, the character invented by Isaac Asimov, the founder and priest of psychology. -Date. In fact, she belongs to the same class as Jared Diamond and Harare, the class of great proponents of human history. In this book, recently published by Utet, More than anticipating catastrophic future events, Turchin deals with explaining to us how humans, with the exception of social insects (and ants in particular), are the most cooperative species on the planet and owe their evolution. success precisely in this ability, but also in how “ten thousand years of war actually (and surprisingly) contributed to the strengthening of suprasocial society, that is, the ability of human beings to make great groups of strangers cooperating: from small towns to great cities, to entire countries and beyond.” It really has a strange effect of light armed monkey Searching for images of war in Ukraine, much more than a transition from the particular to the general, it is a very abrupt transition from emotion to reason, which cynically resists even talking about sentimental things like the millions of man-made deaths in its history. In the way Torshin tells the anatomical peculiarity of the human being as a stone-thrower and the crucial ability to control so-called missile weapons (all those that do not involve hand-to-hand combat), we establish a distance with ourselves and with our history that allows us to see ourselves as if we were observing the behavior of an animal species. . A strange shift in perspective these days, but perhaps somewhat useful. (Cristiano de Mago)

Antonio Delfini, memoirs (Enaudi)
Sponsored by Irene Baboni

Memoirs like the one by Antonio Delfini, which are eighteen from 1927 to 1944, can be read in two ways, and this happens: as a novel about coming of age about a nineteen-year-old who grew up in Italy where few live. Little by little, fascist power, as a window on an era, a time machine, a historical documentary without hypocrisy or self-disavowal. Copy sent by Einaudi to print Edited by Irene Babboni Previous versions, from the 1980s Edited by Giovanna Delfini and Natalia Ginzburg. The only other memoirs that show an era in this way, as a journey into the past, as Marco Pilpolitti wrote in the preface, are living craft by Pavese. But Bávez was already in exile, depressed, and his feelings often akin to those which the modern reader would expect to find, in a sense, my brother, for granted. Delfini, on the other hand, is a runaway and very shy teenager, stamping like a little horse and worried about everything and everyone (and everyone): the rich son of the landowners of Modenes, taught as self-made, and cultural in an untamed way, moving around Modena and Viareggio as a person Cool would like to rebel against something but not know what the target could be. He writes Bilbuletti, the eternal teenager, who is critical of everything. Delphini is an ardent fascist at first, and how a very young man manages to identify with that seemingly rebellious vitality that quickly turns into violent gangrene is already, in itself, a rare historical document. Then there is the love that Delphini has troubled his whole life with writing. Love is experienced as shame and inadequacy, as well as a culture to which one feels that one cannot belong. Serenity spreads over everything only when the writing is based on landscape and countryside, and it does so with unexpected and very sweet lyric poetry. Little by little, fascism turns into anti-fascism, but the spirit of rebellious individualism persists: “I quarrel with conservatives to defend my ideas as a communist. I am fighting with the Communists to defend my ideas (in which case it would be better to say: my feelings, my memories, my feelings) as a conservative.” At the armistice he wrote against the fascists as well as against the British and the Soviets. Then he also writes: “The smell of picking chicken was in my mole pants.” In the background of it all, Italy, a campaign destined to disappear in a short time, is seen by a privileged and absurd pedestrian like the protagonist of Walser’s novel. (David Kubo)

Rick Bass Petroleum dog (Mattioli 1885)
Translated by Silvia Lomaca

Twelve stories completed Petroleum dog I thought it rarely occurred to me to read a book (and know an author) explained in such a subtle and essential way by the title printed on the cover. All Rick Bass stories can be divided into three pieces. There are detailed descriptions of animal life, and an ongoing homage to what Thoreau referred to as Walden’s “wild neighbours.” There is a fascinating testament to nature as memory, seas becoming deserts, life that melts in oil: the sands of Texas, the Mississippi rivers, the mountains of Utah, the forests of Montana’s Yak Valley, 338 inhabitants, including a Texan writer who has lived and written in a 1903 shack since 1987 And there are mortals: Every time a critic tries to put him in the American genre of nature writing, Bass replies (upset, quit) that he actually does care about his gender. He’s interested in boxers, teachers, students, firefighters, dog trainers, and oil hunters, lonely and reluctant champions noticed by Bass without elitist mercy or tourist curiosity. In his stories, these characters become lovers of Shakespeare and medieval hermits, and take on an epic dimension by engaging in what Bass defines for humanity: search and struggle. The heroes of his stories are researchers and explorers fighting around the ruins of the modern American frontier. Not surprisingly, when asked which literary genre he feels most comfortable in, Bass always answers the same way: Western. Because it is a story of research and struggle, and thus learning to write. In the 1980s, before becoming a writer, he worked as a geologist for oil companies. He had spent months in the middle of nowhere, looking for something that might not have been there. “It may seem inexplicable, but that profession and the profession of a writer are practically the same.” (Francesco Gerardi)

Kristen Schutt Japanese comics (Playground)
Translated by Chiara Messina

in the United States of America all souls He came out in 2008 and reached the Pulitzer Final (won Kittridge olives by Elizabeth Strout). It’s a messy book written by an author who has taught in high school for years, and thus knows all too well what a fictitious school environment can be, and in particular that of the prestigious New York Girls’ College, where bathroom pipes have rusted from students’ vomiting. Mental disorders, loneliness, adolescence, parents who died in tragic javelin accidents, Japanese comics Mix some ingredients Florida (published in Italy by Nutrimenti in 2009), another book by National Book Award finalist Kristen Schutt, but in a more fragmented fashion, because if Florida She had one narrator voice, the orphan Alice, Japanese comics It gathers a group of scenes and characters that move, or rather sway and stumble, around one fixed point: the student Astra Dell, has contracted a very rare form of cancer and is hospitalized. Driven by forced optimism and cliched ideas about illness, her close friend Carlotta, who has anorexia, begins writing harsh, direct letters reflecting her impending death (“I know you fantasized about your funeral. Everyone will miss you. Absence is the most effective way to affect the lives of others”), the letters which Marilyn, an ill-fitting fellow who is obsessed with Astra (but only since she is ill), begins to intercept and hide her, fearing that she might upset her. Carlotta’s Brief Meditations are the best part of the book, a rare glimmer of clarity, a stifling whirlwind in which everyone—students, professors, parents—are clumsy, selfish, rude, inappropriate, liar, and superficial, reminding us how stupid we know. In any role and at any age. (Clara Mazzolini)

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