…is the name of the book I started reading this week. It’s by Robert Coover. It starts out with a sentence that is worthy of Faulkner, eleven lines long. I was going to type it out for you here, but I’m tired just looking at it. Pinocchio, the protagonist, is an aging American university professor returning to Venice to finish a book. “‘Ah,’ he groans,” and off goes another sentence seven lines long. That’s the first paragraph.
I have this odd feeling that I’ve read this book before, but it’s not already on my shelf, and who would have lent it to me? I’ve made it to page 48 and I’m still undecided. But there are gems. Here’s one worth repeating:
“On the crest of one small bridge, he lets out such a sign of rapture (what is it? the row of little boats snuggled against the wet narrow fondamenta glowing in the dim misty light? that distant bridge, delicate and pale, rising through the wisps of fog? the rosy cast of the light near that wall with all its overlapping shades of faded red and the little metal fountain near its base, trickling water from a lion’s jaw? or just the little bridge itself whereon he stands as at a rostrum or a pulpit, the dark canal water slipping past beneath him like hushed subversive laughter? all! all! and more!) that the porter turns to him in alarm and, staring quizzically at his nose, asks: ‘Are you all right, professore?'”
I think I’ve been on this bridge. I’ve certainly seen the little boats and the wet fondamenta and the misty light.
I also learned some new Venetian swear words on page 45. “Rotto in culo!” and “Sfiga di cazzo!” someone yells at our Pinocchio at night. “I’ll have you melted down and turned into souvenir gondolas!” That last bit must be the worst thing you can wish on anyone.
On the cover, Salman Rushdie describes the book as “Brilliant, sexy, and funny!” I’m really curious to see what will be sexy about an aging wooden man.
Will I make it to page 330? Place your bets now.