Friday, 18 July 2014

The Day of the Dead by Maurizio de Giovanni

As the dawn was beginning to extract the outlines of things from the night and the rain, if someone had happened to pass by the foot of the monumental staircase leading up to Capodimonte, they'd have seen a dog and a child.

Two subordinate clauses slammed together like in the above sentence is awkward and not right. There's an evilness about this that disturbs me. Other than that there is not much happening here. Night is ending, as it always does, and there is a boy and a dog out and about. It has a little of the film fade in technique. Unfortunately, this is a novel, not a film. The next sentence and last in the first paragraph you can just skip, as it states that if someone had been there, but of course isn't, then it would have been hard to make the figures of dog and boy out. Whatever.

Paragraph 2 goes on to explain the boy and dog are just sitting there. Paragraph 3 begins by stating that ...if someone had...stopped to look they may have wondered [things] - or not; it would depend entirely on who these hypothetical characters would be. It goes on to say that someone [what about the reader?] might wonder what the boy and dog were doing before describing the boy and dog and then finally we arrive at page 2. By the end of this short opening chapter we may surmise the boy is dead. Amazing it took two pages to reveal something that could have been stated in one powerful sentence at the beginning. In other words, by using the if only... technique this opening reminds me of homework I've read in the past, published homework, and therefore is a fail.

Chapter 2 begins with a phone call with a header stating it is 1931, an interesting time period for some, so this might help to hook your brain.

First thing said:

"Commissa', you didn't think they'd let us finish our shift in peace, did you?"

Overall, I think this opening shows promise, but there isn't enough data here to raise any questions that need immediate answering. Yes, there is the question as to why the boy froze to death outside. Was he waiting for someone, or running away from something? However, it's not an usual enough situation to make me want to read on. If it was a real life situation, of course it would interest people, but this concept of a scene of a dead child found in cold weather has appeared before in the cruel fictional world that the human imagination has created.

I have a feeling this novel would make a great movie, which one may interpret as an insult or as a compliment to the book.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Rudy Globird

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