NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES BY AUTHOR

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Wakefield Press

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Paperback, 4.5 x 7 in. / 192 pgs.

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Catalog: FALL 2020 p. 76   

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WAKEFIELD PRESS

Brief Lives of Idiots

By Ermanno Cavazzoni. Introduction and translation by Jamie Richards.

A blissful and baneful litany of human stupidity, from Italian fantastical absurdist Ermanno Cavazzoni

A parody of the medieval Lives of the Saints, Ermanno Cavazzoni’s Brief Lives of Idiots offers us a perfect month of portraits of idiots drawn from real life, from overly realist writers to fringe-belief obsessives, punctuated every seventh day with a litany of suicides—failed, foolish or fatal to others. This roll call extends the ridiculous to melancholic extremes, introducing us to such exemplary fools as the father and husband unable to recognize his own family, the Marxist convinced that Christ was an extraterrestrial, the would-be saint who finds a private martyrdom through the torturous confinement of a pair of ill-fitting leather oxfords and the man who failed to realize that he had spent two years in a concentration camp. This is a display of myriad idiocy, discovered and achieved by hook or by crook, be it through paranoia, misapplied methodology, religious hallucination or relentless diarrhea. But Cavazzoni engages in neither finger pointing nor celebration. If saints can be counted, idiots cannot: idiocy is ultimately the human condition.

Ermanno Cavazzoni (born 1947) is the award-winning author of many fantastic and absurd tales. He is a professor at the University of Bologna and a member of the literary group OpLePo, an Italian spin-off of the OuLiPo.


PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Washington Examiner

Adrian Norman West

Cavazzoni’s heroes are largely harmless, and most of them antedate the information age. Their charm lies in what the book’s translator calls their “beautifully hopeless enterprise.” The contemporary idiot, by contrast, has abundant reasons for optimism, whether grounded in reality or not. The stupidity that Cavazzoni’s characters pursue in private reveries has become, for them, a collective dream.

The Book Beat

Tom Bowden

Brief Lives rekindles hope in a return to times when idiocy was kinder, gentler, almost pure in its lack of guile—idiocy straight up.

Brief Lives of Idiots

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