Wednesday, 19 August 2009


by Piettro Grossi
translated by Howard Curtis

'Fists', a new book published by the ever brilliant Pushkin Press, is by Italian author Pietro Grossi, it is his debut in English, it contains three stories each about the size of a novella, translated by Howard Curtis. I'll give a little run down of the first story and then let you discover the rest!. The first story is 'Boxing' and is based around one young man's desire to box, in the beginning there's one thing in the way....his mother, and also there's the piano lessons she's forcing him to continue, although he summons the courage to lay it on the line,that if he continues with the lessons then he wants to learn to box too, a week of the silent treatment pays off and he's on his way to the gym. He seems to be naturally gifted, so his trainer Gustavo tells him, he gets known as 'The Dancer' as he's quick on his feet, and even though he's not yet been in a fight, he gains a great reputation, but he keeps it from his friends, apart from one who he takes to watch a fight with him, (he tells his mother that he's going to watch a play by Pirandello!). Here they witness a fighter called 'Goat', a deaf mute who lays out his opponents with ease, and that's when the fear hits him, maybe this guy could actually beat him, for the first time our protagonist begins to question his assumed invincibility. Goat lets his trainer (Buio) know, that he won't fight anyone else until he's fought the Dancer, just to know once and for all who's the best, between the trainers a date is set for three months in advance. Before he knows it he's there in front of Goat, standing opposite him in the ring,they touch gloves, the roar of the crowds goes up..... I'll also leave you to discover the ending for yourself!. I thought this story is really well paced and demonstrates how Pietro Grossi can pick up a story and run with it, I was immediately caught up in the tension and exhilaration. The descriptions of the savagery and complexities of the psychology of boxing are exacting.

The second story in 'Fists', is called 'Horses' which is about the relationship between two brothers, Daniel and Natan, who are given a horse each by their father, in slightly parabolic fashion, and tells of their lives which are heading in different directions. The third story is 'The Monkey', it's about Nico and Piero, Nico's boyhood friend. Nico receives a phone call from Piero's sister asking for help as his old friend has started behaving like a monkey, this last story really stayed with me after I had put the book down and gave me alot to think over. Really recommend reading these three very different stories, and would very much look forward to seeing a full novel.

Thanks to Pushkin Press.

Fists at Pushkin Press.

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