by Giorgio De Maria
Edit- one word I forgot to mention is creepy.
It’s pretty fitting that I unknowingly chose to photograph this passage, because I checked out this book out of relative spontaneity. I was leaving the library and I was right by the table of February releases. As I zipped up my jacket and got ready for the Artic Wind outside, I read the titles on the table, and before I knew it, I was physically browsing through the pages of the books. I picked up Twenty Days and I was instantly hooked by the writing. I read the book jacket and it was a winner.
The mystery is dark, anxious, and psychological. It’s officially under the ‘Magical Realism’ title, but I think ‘Magical (sur)realism’ is more fitting. The writing sucks you right in. It’s clear, clean, precise, and to the point. All the characters are dynamic and clearly so. The exchanges are made transparent to the readers, so there isn’t much reading in between the lines. If something is ambiguous, uncertain, or unknown, the readers are told so, instead of alluded to.
What I truly love about this book is that you have no idea what’s going to happen next, the character’s thoughts and actions are always interesting; it does not get boring. The narrator only communicates details of his life that pertain to the mystery of those Twenty Days in Turin, when the brutal and inhumane murders took place, after the founding of the Library. These murders were witnessed by the residents of Turin, but the town had been suffering from mass insomnia, and so at night, when these murders occurred, they were all out of it. Those who will speak of the Library (and the murders) can only remember non-human, metallic, searing scream(s). Except for the sister of one of the murder victims– she recalls the victim having a dream of a dried up lake. The Library was a space opened up by two youngsters, and instead of having published books, the youngsters encouraged the residents of Turin to bring in their own writings, diaries, whatever, for others to read. So the Library hosted only these writings, and residents read each others’ works which could apparently be depraved and terrible. For a fee, the reader could get information on the author, which would be a fellow Turin resident.
There is a relationship between the grisly murders and the Library, which encouraged the citizens to communicate with each other, but that relationship is left for speculation; along with the screams. The screams are first just low noises and then they turn into words and sentences, where the voices describe what they see. The role of the scream/noises/voices is eerie and hard to place as well, but it is felt viscerally.
De Maria’s ability to express the nuances of anxiety and fear in society makes this a true work of art. There’s nothing more I can say, because the short book (novel?) speaks for itself; except, maybe, that De Maria’s name next to Edgar Allen Poe’s is wholly justified.