One of the greatest rewards of following the career of an individual author is seeing their progress evolve before their eyes: being able to see how, over time, they have become a stronger writer, a better artist, how they behave. they have developed, perfected, and honed their craft. In the case of Francesca Marciano, with her new storybook, we are talking about an author who has I arrive – the learning is over. The people, places, messages and motives are familiar to us from his previous work; in fact, he tackles this same theme in the story here entitled “An Indian Soiree”, but in The other language She is in full control of her themes, themes, and characters in a way that she may not have been, say, Rules of the wild gold The end of manners (as good as those two novels). Every story here has the absolute tone of truth and the authority of wise and intelligent observation. One, “The Presence of Men,” achieves true literary grandeur and deserves to be anthologized for hundreds of years.

This kind of maturity in fiction is extremely rare. I think Ward Just is the best example I can think of. Nothing sounds awkward here, nothing falls with a thud. Even something that is usually a dagger to the heart for a fiction writer (making up the lyrics to a rock song) turns out very well.

A constant hallmark of strong fiction is the ability to make the reader smile with little jolts of recognition; This volume made me laugh with its perfect interpretation of the way we send emails and text messages; it made me nod my head in gloomy acknowledgment of the way we could make a date with a person, knowing very well at the time that we are doing it so that we have no intention of showing up; and it will make all of us who are New York subway rats feel like we’re back on the Q train across the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn. The eye that is looking here captures everything from a fourteen-year-old girl on the beach in the initial stages of becoming a cosmopolitan European woman to the way Indian tailors cut through material to evoke the long-lost theme song. , but instantly recognizable from “Born Free”, just to name a few.

But great writing assumes a double job: it not only lives to show us the everyday world in the author’s unique and original way; it usually also pushes elements of the author’s own personal experience against the edges of questions such as “What does this all mean?” and “What’s the use of all this?” In one of these stories, a young documentary maker who starts out with great promise finally comes to wisdom, self-knowledge, and respect in a way that has nothing to do with cinema. Two other young Italian women living in the United States burn with the desire to “become Americans,” although achieving this may not be exactly what they hope for. And the aforementioned “An Indian Evening” is one of the best examinations of the disintegration of a marriage that I have seen in imaginative literature. And it is so precisely because Marciano lets the mystery of how it happens hang in the air without trying many explanations and analyzes in the way that only God knows how many thousands of other story writers would do.

Another, certainly minor, thing that I enjoyed the way Marciano writes in these stories is that even though he mentions drops, he always does so with a light touch and in the way that perhaps the story requires. It’s a function of the character of the characters, if I may put it like this: if someone mentions Terence Malick or Fellini, it’s to make sure someone else feels something. It is not done in such a way that we get the impression that it is only the author showing how many books he has read or movies he has seen.

The Jungian principle of synchronicity, which some people prefer to categorize as blind and random chance, appears twice, once in a small scene in the title story that opens the book and a second time as the main theme of a later story. “Quantum theory”. This is an example of something else that Marciano excels at here, a kind of smooth recurrence of theme and tone, of an idea that pops up here and there, never over-emphasized or exaggerated, never used to hit the reader on the spot. head, and in my opinion, it is an attractive way of writing.

We’ll close with some prominent examples of what you’ll find here:

“We met in the bathroom at Jonathan Cole’s house. You had a pair of bright red sandals that you just bought in Italy.”

He opened his mouth, feigning bewilderment.

“Come on. How can you remember that? “

“We had a pretty long conversation there, and I tend to notice women’s feet,” he said.

****

There is something terribly sad about a young woman crying in the street without restraint. You just know that he must be heartbroken.

****

Only Italian men wear sockless loafers with the ankles showing this under the pants.

****

Without even asking permission to do so, Ms D’Costa supervised meals, went shopping for supplies, and handled logistics with military precision, as is done every time a tragedy strikes and everyone else walks in a daze.

In short: if you are interested in contemporary literature, you cannot afford to miss out on this collection.

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