WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HIM?: I read Six Characters in Search of an Author, which was pretty awesome. I also read Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Pirandello’s Henry IV, which, yay Tom Stoppard! I think I bought my copy of the book I read at a used book store in the French Quarter. My first reaction was “woah, this guy wrote novels too?” and my second reaction was “man, that is an awesome concept.”
WHAT ARE YOU READING?: The Late Mattia Pascal. Apparently, this was the book that made Pirandello famous or something. I can see why.
REVIEW: Pirandello is endlessly fascinated with the idea of identity and our ability to fashion it at will. In The Late Mattia Pascal, Mattia, a lazy stumblebum from a rich family, gets pulled into a bad marriage. One day, his shrieking harpy of a mother-in-law drives him out of the house in a rage, and he ends up in a casino in France. Fortune is on his side, and after two weeks, he makes quite a hefty sum. On the way home, he reads in the paper that he has committed suicide and his body was found in his old family’s mill. Pascal, suddenly free of his debts and horrible life (there’s that freedom again!) sets out to create a new life for himself (literally). He decides where his new persona grew up, where he lived, and even traveled around to these places to construct his life story so well that he could believe it himself. In the end, Pascal can’t keep all the balls in the air he needs to, so he fakes a suicide and returns to his old family, who don’t want anything to do with him. Keep in mind that this was written in 1904.
DO YOU RECOMMEND IT?: Yes, unequivocally.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Gabriel Garcia Marquez and One Hundred Years of Solitude