Cancerqueen and Other Stories
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Another book of short stories by Italian Tommaso Landolfi. Comparable to his countryman Italo Calvino. Reminiscent of Kafka and Borges.
Here's a customer review from Amazon:
It's hard to believe that mine is the first & so far only review of this extraordinary volume of short stories ... or fabulations ... or ficciones, as Borges might call them. Whatever the chosen label, it's clear from the start that this is a unique, erudite, darkly witty voice in 20th century fiction. Landolfi stakes out his own territory that straddles the fantastic, from Kafka & the Surrealists, to then-contemporary New Wave science-fiction, to both the modernist absurd & the traditional fable. For instance, the Cancerqueen of the title story is a spaceship making a wild journey to the moon, in a novella that's parody, literary homage, and anti-fiction all at once.
While the stories certainly have plots, what really matters is the style & the tone. Landolfi is capable of a wide range, to say the least. Consider these lines from "The Mute" --
"Her breasts were half-opened buds; as when the imprisoned red flower just beings to show its head, shy, bewildered and already triumphant. And all of her, an ever new miracle, was bursting open like a pomegranate."
(And while that sounds like erotic loveliness, in the context of the story, it's actually quite chilling.)
Or these, from "Cancerqueen" --
"Cancerqueen is getting more and more despotic, surly and sour. Now she would like me to keep motionless and silent: she'll have to wait awhile! Her nasal, stinking and broth-colored voice excites my antipathy more than I can say. By now it's all-out war between us; we'll see who wins."
Or these, from "Shadows" --
"Because of that phosphorescent quality of her skin to which I had already alluded, I could quite clearly make out all her gestures. And, since this time it had somewhat relented, that rich, vibrant voice, quavering now and then, seemed the voice itself of the dark and ardent province, with its invincible and secret passions, its prides, its infinite complications, its stumblings, its difficulties of expression, its hopeless surrenders, its indomitable and jealous virginities elevated to tokens of superior dignity, with the savage strength of its conventions, which burn up everything and to which everything can be sacrificed, and its trite duties."
This sort of writing isn't for everyone, of course. But for the reader who savors the rich, the achingly surreal, the piquancy of a fine, rare liqueur: you'll find much to linger over with wonder & delight in these pages. A real discovery awaits you -- most highly recommended!