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A cult classic of Italian literature published in English for the first time, with a foreword by André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name
In the late 1960s, Leo Gazzara left his family in Milan and moved to Rome for work. Soon unemployed, he has spent his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between hotels, bars, romantic entanglements, and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends. Rome is indifferent. Leo drifts, aimless and alone.
On the evening of his thirtieth birthday, he meets Arianna, a young woman who is both fragile and seductive. All night they drive the city in Leo’s run-down Alfa Romeo, talking and talking. They eat brioche for breakfast, drink through the dawn, drive to the sea and back. A whirlwind beginning. This is the story of the year Leo fell in love and lost everything.
Intense, brief, witty and devastating, Last Summer in the City is a newly rediscovered classic of Italian literature. Translated into English for the first time by Howard Curtis, Gianfranco Calligarich’s romantic and despairing debut is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises and The Catcher in the Rye.
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.