Monday, 15 January 2018

Hunting Season by Andrea Camilleri

According to information on the cover Camilleri is the author of the Inspector Montalbano series. The name sounds familiar to me, but I have not read any of these books, or seen the popular TV-series based on the books. This book caught my eye because of the cover, which I love. The back cover text intrigued me as well:
"'Tomorrow afternoon they're going to open a pharmacy in town,' Mimi said as he was carrying his master, chair and all, from the palazzo to the Circolo. But as he was covering him with the blanket, since it was late February and frosty, the old man made as if to speak.'No,' he said with such effort that he began to sweat, despite the cold. 'No, Mimi. Tomorrow hunting season opens.''What are you saying, sir? It's a pharmacy that's opening, and the pharmacist is that gentleman stranger who greets you every time he passes by.''No, Mimi, tomorrow hunting season opens. And I don't want to get shot…'"
It is Sicily in 1880 and a stranger arrives in Vigàta, and life will never be the same. The man, Fofo, opens a pharmacy and he soon becomes part of the local life, a man to whom everyone turns in trouble. He gets involved with the local nobility and nobody knows what to believe when one after the other of one of the families is being killed.

Having just read One Hundred Years of Solitude with its magical realism, I found the same magical writing here. The stories are not at all the same, but the author moves in a border line between the real, surrealistic and unreal. While reading I could not figure out the story and everything that happened. Was this a 'real' story or was it supposed to be some surrealistic, magical story with no roots in the real world.

It is not until the very end that Camilleri reveals the solution to the mystery killing. And even then, you wonder what was real and what was not. If anything. It is a mystery written in quite a different way, with wonderful prose, well defined characters with all their good and bad habits. Here is an extract with Camilleri's wonderful characterisation.
"Out of the first carriage stepped Don Totò, tall, erect, and bespectacled, his face so marked by wrinkles and scars that it looked like a sea chart, and his wife Harriet, a sort of beanpole with no tits of hips and sallow skin. From the second coach emerged Petru, he, too, about fifty years old, small of stature and thin, looking around, his little head turning left and right like a ferret's. Out of the third carriage stepped the black maid, fat and old and with two eyes so big they looked like portholes on a steamship Little children began to cry at the sight of her. The last carriage was full of luggage, which Mimì and Peppinella hoisted onto their shoulders and carried inside. Then the door shut behind them, and the celebration, for the moment, was over."
Andrea Camilleri is one of the most popular contemporary writers in Italy. It is just the more pity I have not come across him before. He is a new acquaintance that I would like to know more about. His writing is so interesting and every new page contains a surprise action, or a surprise character. Have you read anything by him?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read anything by him. I might read his mysteries, but I steer clear of most magical realism. I tolerated it better when I was younger, less and less the older I get.