Advanced search in the New Italian Books catalog

Skip to content Skip to footer

The father splits animals, gets into their guts, separates muscles from membranes, removes organs and bones. The father sells pieces of animals. The father dives into the biological chasm and pulls steaks out of it. Meat cuts are his trade and his art. The father is a butcher. The father’s task is to go into the dead flesh and come out of it by handing it to the living, so that life can continue its voracious chain. He is a ferryman between the two sides of the meat, between viande and chair, between meat and flesh. At the market stall, he serves the fearful who do not face the bodies they eat, who do not want to know, delegating the dirty work to the butchers. One day something goes wrong in the perfect choreography of the blades and a crooked cut almost takes off a thumb. It is the beginning of another descent into flesh, this time his own. At work, a bacterium has contaminated him. It starts with an infection, continues with exhaustion, a feral diagnosis, medical protocols, trips to clinics abroad. His 20-year-old son Dario plunges his gaze into his father’s deteriorating flesh, and into the melancholy of his departure. A strong intimacy envelops them, as happens almost only in the relationship between daughters and mothers. We enter into the son’s gaze, prehensile and exact, as he sees his father keel over. Precision is the form his devotion and suffering take.Reading Dario Voltolini one is inclined to think one can do without the world: his words, his scintillating descriptions, capable of grasping things and arousing them like no other, are enough.

Tiziano Scarpa

Dario Voltolini (Turin, 1959) is the author of short stories, novels, radio plays and librettos for musical theatre.  In 2003 he published I confini di Torino, followed by Sotto i cieli d’Italia (2004, with Giulio Mozzi), Le scimmie sono inavvertitamente uscite dalla gabbia (2006), Foravìa (2010), Pacific Palisades (2017), Sedici passeggiate con Kuma (2023). The novel Il Giardino degli Aranci was published by La nave di Teseo in 2022.