This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

Last Summer in the City

By Gianfranco Calligarich

Translated from Italian, this short story from the seventies follows Leo Gazzara, a thirty years old man, living in Rome. It reads like a hazy and melancholic diary – offering snapshots of Leo’s life in the eternal city. In these snapshots, we see him drifting through the streets of Rome- sometimes alone or with company. He’s either pulling an all-nighter with Arianna, a woman he falls in love with, or indulge in a drunken bender with his friend Graziano.

In the first few chapters, Leo paints a carefree lifestyle in Rome. He drinks a lot, wakes up in some woman’s apartment, leave in the morning, buys a newspaper, and goes home wondering if he should spend the afternoon at the movies. He doesn’t have money and scrounges free lunch and money from his friends and acquaintances during his unemployment phase. He will turn up to any invites where there is promise of food and drinks.

Rome’s indifference has a profound impact on Leo as he struggles to find his place in the city. Opportunities and luck seem to be far and few, and yet he refuses to return home to Milan. Everyone he knows is from somewhere, like Arianna who is from Venice. Like Leo, Arianna feels scattered in Rome. There is no sense of purpose, just drifting along from one piazza to another, eating, drinking and talking all night until early morning.

In the beginning, Leo express he likes the city, but his friend Glauco feels crushed by the city and is leaving for Mexico. By the end of the novel, Leo finds himself at the end of his tether, overwhelmed by misfortunes and bad luck he’s encountered during his time living in Rome. I felt Leo had embraced Rome in the way it was not reciprocated. Towards the end, he makes a heart-wrenching decision, which concludes the book.

I enjoyed the languid, dreamy proses, which due to translation, did not flow naturally at times. But I understood the nuances the writing was trying to convey. I understood Leo’s listlessness and enjoyed his observations of people around him. It reminded me of André Aciman’s writing – that style of writing that you could read forever.

Next Post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2024 This Writer Gal

Theme by Anders Norén