This is the second book in a month that I’ve read where the violence has made me wince. But, like in Pierre LeMaitre’s Irene, the level of violence in At the End of a Dull Day seems proportionate to the setting and the oeuvre within which Massimo Carlotto writes.
Georgio Pellogrino, a protagnist in an earlier Carlotto novel, is leading a relatively straight existence running a popular restaurant in the Veneto area of Italy. Frequented by politicians and other members of polite Italian society, the restaurant comes under threat when Pelligrino discovers that a popular politician with Ministerial ambitions has lost two million of Pellegrino’s Euros in a Ponzi style scheme. He swears revenge and discovers a lost appetite for violence and killing.
Although, at 192 pages, this is a relatively short book, the narrative is densely packed in terms of both plot and characterisation. Pelligrino is an anti-hero of the traditional kind. His capacity for violence, especially towards women, is shocking but there’s a world weariness to him too. As readers we’re both shocked by the contempt with which he treats the women in his life and he absurd justifications he makes for doing so.
I found the narrative to be completely compelling and read it in virtually one sitting. In many ways this isn’t the style of book I normally read but I could only sit back and enjoy the stark brutality of Carlotto’s writing.
Thanks to Europa Editions for my review copy. The translator was Antony Shugaar .