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This review is taken from PN Review 64, Volume 15 Number 2, November - December 1988.

Dino Buzzati, A Love Affair, translated by Joseph Green (Carcanet) £9.95
As well as being a fiction writer and a graphic artist with at least one book of erotic cartoons to his credit, Dino Buzzati (1906-72) was a newspaperman on the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. A brief autobiographical capriccio in the collection Restless Nights relates how he chanced to acquire the power to transport himself anywhere in the world at the merest application of his will. What a reporter's dream! Unfortunately, he goes on, he had to renounce the exercise of this gift since it only got him into trouble. On one occasion, he had wished himself into bed with a beautiful woman, only to find his company not appreciated - he still had on all his street clothes and his shoes!

A practitioner of that well-tried mode of the Fantastic which thrives upon the deadpan presentation of the impossible or the highly improbable, Buzzati may be situated in the orbit of writers like Kafka (whom he frequently echoes, arguably a little too overtly at times) and Flann O'Brien. His stories reflect a vision of the banality of modern life and of its unsettling confluences with the extravagant and the incredible. As Lawrence Venuti points out in his introduction to Restless Nights, Buzzati was able to exploit standard journalistic genres such as the profile, the obituary, the disaster report or the 'stranger than fiction' feature, applying a neutral style to happenings which characteristically converge upon themes of hair-raising vertigo. In his tales, a girl leaps from a skyscraper so ...


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