11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
at the margins of the Italian resistance: funny, sad, chaotic,
This review is from: The Path to the Spiders' Nests (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is an absolutely wonderful novel about a boy who wanders into the Italian resistance during WWII. There, he finds a hilarious panoplie of characters, from lice-infested peasant marxists to the hyper-intellectual young co-leader. Each person is rendered so vividly - and if you have ever lived in Italy you recognise the types - that the novel is extremely dense and pleasureful.
The plot is fairly simple: a young boy from a chaotic household has to flee after being arrested for stealing a pistol from his sister's German "client." (He was trying to impress the ineffectual drunks in his usual hangout, a smoky and dilapidated bar, and then gets caught up in the resistance.) All the time, he is lonely and desperately seeking a special companion, someone to love and take care of him. It is not a heroic tale, but one about what it was really like in the resistance: more about the pauses and boredom, the bad food and promiscuity, the strange thoughts by men risking their lives for murky as well as clear-cut causes - the socialist revolution or to rid their countryside of the Germans who steal their cows. This is a new and fascinating view, told with great wit and style. This is the first novel I read in Italian, and its vocabulary is difficult but wonderfully succinct and clear.