Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Pereira Maintains - Antonio Tabucchi

 Doctor Pereira was a newspaper reporter, crime pages, for years.  He finds himself now in late middle age editing the "culture" page of a new evening newspaper.  It's 1938, Portugal is under the grip of the dictator Salazar, who is supported politically by Franco in Spain, Hitler in Germany Mussolini in Italy. Guernica has been bombed.  So it's no different at that time than other countries today - where ordinary people have to get on with their lives and do ordinary things.....

When Periera meets Rossi, a young Italian man who needs a job and tells him he can write "in advance" obituaries for him (ready for the death when it occurs) he employs him on an ad hoc basis and pays him from his own pocket for starters.  Rossi has no money, and gets a few free lunches from Periera.  In return he produces obituaries that Periera cannot use.  We, the readers, can see that something is going to happen from very early on, although of course, the characters cannot.  We find Periera a bit of a blank sheet - fat, lazy, disinterested in politics and not a hero - yet.

Short, less than 200 pages, and for me, beautifully described.   I never mind reading a new author, I just have to like the subject and the style.  Tabucchi is Italian and this is the first time I have happened upon him.  It is interesting to read a book originally written in another language - as long as it's well translated.  I really enjoyed this book, a book about nothing really, starring a rather boring man,  which is actually a neat little thriller.