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The first novel from award-winning author Gianfranco Calligarich to be published in English, Last Summer in the City is a witty and despairing classic of Italian literature. Biting, tragic, and endlessly quotable, this translated edition features an introductory appreciation from longtime fan New York Times bestselling author André Aciman.
In a city smothering under the summer sun and an overdose of la dolce vita, Leo Gazarra spends his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between run-down hotels and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends, without whom he would probably starve. At thirty, he’s still drifting: between jobs that mean nothing to him, between human relationships both ephemeral and frayed. Everyone he knows wants to graduate, get married, get rich—but not him. He has no ambitions whatsoever. Rather than toil and spin, isn’t it better to submit to the alienation of the Eternal City, Rome, sometimes a cruel and indifferent mistress, sometimes sweet and sublime? There can be no half measures with her, either she’s the love of your life or you have to
First discovered by Natalia Ginzburg, Last Summer in the City is a forgotten classic of Italian literature, a great novel of a stature similar to that of The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye. Gianfranco Calligarich’s enduring masterpiece has drawn comparisons to such writers as Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Jonathan Franzen and is here made available in English for the first time.
Calligarich's evocative English-language debut, originally published in Italy in 1973, follows the travails of a journalist in Rome. Leo Gazzara, 30, a self-described "pretentious snob... at the end of tether," recalls his struggles of the previous year. Leo moved to Rome because of its proximity to the sea, which he's always loved, and for a job at a magazine that soon went out of business, leaving him to find a spot at a sports newspaper. He meets Arianna at a party and they start seeing each other, though she rebuffs his first declaration of love. In May, they go to the sea, where they trespass on private beaches and in vacant vacation villas. In June, Leo starts and abandons a job in TV, sleeps with an ex, and tries to ignore Arianna, who is dating someone else. As Leo and his friend Graziano Castelvecchio write a film script, Calligarich conjures Italy's piazzas, parties, beaches, and bars with a mood reminiscent of A Movable Feast, and the friends' project is halted by an affecting tragedy. While Leo's unexamined poor treatment of others, especially Arianna, feels a bit dated, the feeling that Leo is alone in the world is poignantly conveyed. The scenery alone makes this worth a look.