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David McLintock, Thomas Bernhard

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (New York Review Books Classics)

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (New York Review Books Classics) - Carlo Emilio Gadda Imagonnabe thinking about this one for a while. Gadda and this novel had a mention in Enrique Vilas-Matas' totally wonderful Bartleby & Co. as a book the writer couldn't/wouldn't finish.

That awful mess a crime novel without resolution--an armed robbery plus a murder that may or may not be connected. It's a cutting misanthropic/misogynist social satire of Rome circa 1927, in the early days of Mussolini's reign. It's an exercise in playing with language from puns and near obscenities to dialect, sentence fragments and serial abuse of the colon. And it's one of those rare books that make you revise your ideas of what writing is.

Gadda's style isn't so much stream of consciousness as puddles and drips and rivulets that splash all over the place. I don't mind dense writing but the scenes involving the carabinieri investigation in the second half of the book were something of a chore. Then too, the protagonist policeman Ingravallo and his secret emotional attachment to the murdered woman is what propels the story for me, not so much the carabinieri subplot. In the end it isn't only the crimes and connections that elude the philosophical Ingravallo, but himself.