Fabrizio's Passion (Guernica, 235 pages, $18 paper) is Antonio D'Alfonso's English version of his French-language novel Avril ou l'anti-passion (VLB Úditeur, 1990), dealing with three generations of an Italian village, and the hunger for a new life after the horrors of war, which impel Fabrizio's parents' departure for Canada in the late 1940s.
It's a story about passion, carnal and spiritual. Each important event occurs in the month of April, or at Easter-time, making the link with Christ's Passion.
A strong flavour of Italian culture permeates the work, but a serious language problem often obscures meaning. For example, "banal stories" are told at the dinner-table, "with no beginning and no ending.going in vicious circles.our ideas are truly vicious..It is in that viciousness that lies waiting the purest form of beauty, our life ready to break away into the open." Surely, the "banal" ideas are not vicious, but circular, and it's from their endless circling that something "can break away"? The second half of the book is most affected by this problem since Fabrizio is now an educated young man with intellectual aspirations. He suffers all the anxieties of the immigrant, and the pain of an unhappy love affair. His struggle to express his intellectual and creative response to life needs much clearer language than it enjoys here. One suspects that the original French-language work is much superior.