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August 2005

Roman Holiday


If July featured our antipasti, here are the secondi of WWB's summer in Italy. Our selections range from the grace and hope of the classic Elena Belotti's "Abandoned Garden" to jaded contemporaries like Antonio Moresco, with his bitter satire of contemporary Italian values, "The Pigs." Tiziano Scarpa calls to life the human statues outside the Duomo in an Italian town. Maria Pace Ottieri depicts the underside of European prosperity in "Flies and Spiders," set in an immigrant ghetto of Milan. Marco Baliani takes a similar trip when his theater director casts slum children, the poorest of the poor in Nairobi, in a production of Pinocchio. Alternating bright and dark humor, Silvia Ballestra in "All About My Grandmother" (featuring a dialectical word coiner) and Luigi Malerba in "Bakarak" (presenting a diet doctor who argues that we are what we speak) evoke the mysterious physical and emotional powers of language, while the poet Milo de Angelis charts the mute map of the end of an affair. We also offer excerpts from two Italian historical novels forthcoming in English: Erri De Luca's Three Horses, and Gianni Riotta's Alborada. And, again, we toast our guest editor, Benedetta Centovalli, for serving up this delectable menu.

The Abandoned Garden

The house stood alone, facing the sea, a modest little cottage that was getting on in years, on a small dirt lane bordered by tamarisks twisted by winter winds. She had noticed the sign

The Pigs

You have to be away from Italy to see Italy. Or maybe just slightly displaced within its borders—on one of the islands, for example. I was in Favignana a few years ago, and late one


I am Napoleon. I am Marilyn Monroe. I'm the Pharaoh. Every morning I choose one of my costumes. I go out. Then I take up my position in front of the gates of the Piazza Duomo. If

The Flies and the Web

I go back to the "hole." I haven't stopped thinking about it since the first time I went there. I want to slip myself into that crack in the wall, find out what they do in there, how


Chokora. Garbage. Now I know why they call them that. They are of the same color as the street, a noncolor, one that time, wear and tear leave on things like an indelible patina, a

From All About My Grandmother

Nonna has always invented words, Mama does too, and so do I. Nonna invented nicknames and, by rebaptizing certain individuals, ennobled them in my eyes, making them into figures of


It was Bakarak himself who fired me. Bakarak, the Swiss doctor who directs the dietetics institute named after him. I'm standing here in the middle of the street and my thoughts climb up

Mute Map

I Let's slip into that last evening, the pharmacy where her pale restless face didn't register the greeting, the nightguard's: hungry face, I can't get past

from Three Horses

I'm at Laila's door again with a bottle under my arm and a thought which I blurt out at the entrance. I tell her immediately that it's the end of February, and the apricot tree

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