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Don't Move: A Novel Hardcover – May 25, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this story of a tragic romance, as told by a father to his comatose teenage daughter, Italian actress and novelist Mazzantini plays with the choices people make as they construct narratives, especially what they remember and tell in times of crisis. The decision to frame the narrative as a father's confession makes for an odd conceit, considering the lurid details the protagonist shares about his sex life with both his wife and lover. Timoteo is a successful surgeon with a distant relationship with his beautiful wife and a sexually obsessive relationship with his mistress, Italia. He is selfish and capricious (he meets with Italia just hours after his daughter Angela's birth), but he also exhibits flashes of lucidity that make him an engaging if maddening narrator. "You've learned more about me from my absences, my books, my raincoat in the hall, than you have from my flesh-and-blood self," he tells his unconscious daughter, Angela. Mazzantini keeps the plot moving, shifting quickly between Timoteo's memories and his agonizing wait during Angela's surgery. Too often, though, her prose is overwrought and clumsy: Timoteo relates that his lover's tears "burned [him] like lava," and describes himself waiting in the hospital after Angela's birth like "a moth that's been trapped in a room too long... its wings as heavy as cork." Timoteo's honesty offsets the turgid writing in this enjoyable if somewhat awkward novel, as he traces the trajectory of the sordid relationship that still haunts him, from the "viscid pleasure" in its illicit sex to its predictable aftermath.
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Review

Praise for Don’t Move


“Margaret Mazzantini’s prose is singular, refined, rich in imagery, and instantly recognizable. Every sentence, every word seems to have been chosen after careful scrutiny, brightening the texture of the narrative like so many cunningly mounted pearls.” —Corriere della Sera


“[Don’t Move]’s pitiless psychological insight, ferocious existential probing, and rare emotional impact instantly reveal the writer’s lofty intelligence and moral force.” —Diario


“A writer of great talent and intelligence, a narrator of surprising honesty, whose work does honor to our literature.” —Oggi

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385510748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385510745
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,939,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The main character tells his daughter who lies in a coma his story. The story of his most intimate feelings towards different people. Obvious his love for his daughter and his fear she might die. The fact that over the years the love towards her mother has gone. And most of all its the story of the obscure relationship for an unknown woman he picked up somewhere, and the graphic account of the raw sex he has with her.
And after a while there is a change in the horrifyingly selfish abuse of the main character towards this unknown woman.
This book is chilling, tender and loving at the same time.
It has in the meantime been travelling my circle of friends. Each and everyone finds it overwhelming. This is a must read for sure.
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By JVL on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the Italian version "Non Ti Muovere" and just finished the English translation...what an excellent job done! Mazzantini captures the reader beyond a normal level. I wish the book would never end. If you like her work, "Il Cantino di Zinco" is also very well written, although out of print in English.
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Format: Hardcover
This was an interesting read. I found the story to be very detached from time in an odd way. I could not honestly tell you when the story took place because I think that the author was trying to illustrate the concept that it could take place at anytime and anywhere really. What I mean by this is the accidents in life, the affairs and indiscretions that people -regardless of class- all have.

The narrator Timoteo begins the flashback tale by telling us of his daughter Angela's near fatal accident. She was riding a scooter that her parents had argued over even giving her (for fear of an accident) and she ends up in the hospital because she was hit by a car. Her father Timoteo is a brilliant surgeon and she is rushed, clinging to life, to his hospital. While she is being operated on Timoteo reflects on the year prior to her birth all the way up through present moment. He tells of his relationship with her mother Elsa -- an incredibly independent and well provided for woman. They have a beach house and lead what is most likely a very privileged life. One day on the way to the beach house Timoteo's car breaks down in what I could only gather was a shantytown. While waiting for the car to be repaired he meets a woman named Italia in a bar and ends up raping her. After raping what he describes as a poor and ugly woman, he proceeds to his beach house to meet up with his wife. All the while Timoteo cannot stop thinking of the power he felt by raping Italia and how he wanted it to happen again. Ultimately he goes back and bizarrely enough begins a relationship with her. He leads a double life until up to a few days after his daughter is born. And so goes the story...
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Format: Hardcover
"Don't Move" must have sold to the publisher on the strength of its first 40 pages and the outline, because it gets off to a rattling good start. However, the book is driven by the increasingly widespread contempt for maleness that pervades the literary and movie world and its plot is hardly believable.

Married to a strong and controlling feminist, a surgeon secretly rebels against her by repeatedly raping an isolated working-class female in her miserable home under a viaduct next to the Gypsies. Instead of being repelled by his own behaviour, seeking help and getting over it, he convinces himself he is passionately in love with this non-person.

Indeed, the author takes no care to make his love-object come to life, and, knowing her so little, we are left unmoved by her abortion and subsequent death from complications. It is the narrator's immense egotism that compels us to read on incredulously, as he systematically trashes the life of his beautiful, successful and feminist wife and gets away with it.

The narrator's motive for telling his story, the imminent death of his 15 year-old daughter whom he did not know well either, is powerful if bizarre, and is told kaleidoscopically in a complicated series of flashbacks which is not entirely controlled.

For example, when he has cut open his lover's bowels to look at the septicimia, he at first concludes that it is caused by her abortion. However, the author rapidly realises that the timeline of her story does not allow that, and the narrator quickly---and over-conveniently---assumes that his lover has had another abortion since then. It's hard to control a long chain of flashbacks and here we hear the cogs squeaking.
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Format: Paperback
I can't remember the last time I wrote one of these reviews. This novel was just that gripping and beautiful. It is infused with details of love, with poignant smells, and it promises to break your heart. If you have ever loved and lost someone, this novel will resonate with you for a very long time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The movie mesmerized me; I won't have finished the book had I not seen the movie first.

Several flaws mark this novel; I hesitate to harp about the writing, because the English version is in translation from the Italian. Suffice it to say that I found the writing at times lyrical, poetic, and at times too focused upon intimate details described with more vulgarity than necessary.

I don't know whether the female author succeeded in writing from her male protagonist's point of view. I suspect she has tried too hard; he fits the stereotypical mold of an arrogant man who abuses women and sometimes pretends to feel remorse. Neither he nor any of the other characters are well developed; they are portrayed and described, but not developed. They remain without dimension or depth.

In addition to writing from a male point of view, Mazzantini has crafted a main character who deserves little sympathy, a character who-- in spite of his advanced intelligence and education-- shows no insight into his own behavior. Worse, he shows no tendency to examine his actions, to question himself with respect to the degradation he inflicts upon the two women with whom he is involved-- one of whom accepts it passively, maybe craves it, the other of whom knows nothing of it.

We sense, perhaps subconsciously, that he is acting out a fantasy with Italia. He is claiming in her parts of himself that cannot be expressed or controlled. Our fascination with this story is about our vicarious desire to act out our own socially unacceptable fantasies. As a psychological drama, the book succeeds. The movie succeeds better, perhaps because Sergio Castellitto, one of Italy's most talented actors, is the husband of Margaret Mazzantini.
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