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I'll Steal You Away

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1841959450
ISBN-10: 1841959456
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ammaniti, author of novel-turned-film I'm Not Scared (2003), offers another tale of smalltown southern Italy, this time juxtaposing the growing pains of 12-year-old Pietro Moroni, a "small for his age" kid frequently targeted by bullies, with the romantic prowling of Graziano Biglia, a washed-up flamenco guitarist who returns to his hometown after having his heart broken by a stripper. The novel, narrated in a quasi call-and-response ("His life is sex, drugs and... flamenco. But what's wrong with that? Sure, many people would hate a life like mine. Drifting. Rootless. But I like it") feels awkward at first, but once the reader settles in, Hunt's translation adds welcome depth to seemingly simple folk: Pietro, hungry for social acceptance, gets tricked into vandalizing his school and must suffer the consequences; Graziano, forever scheming an entrée to the big time, loves and leaves skittish schoolteacher Flora Palmieri. Flora, burdened with caring for her sick mother and ill-equipped to deal with the intense fallout from her relationship with Graziano, quickly falls apart once her seducer disappears. Chilling and intimate, Ammaniti's work brings life to a deceptively quiet town and its wealth of eclectic and unsettling residents. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Ammaniti's previous book, "I'm Not Scared," which was made into a movie, used to memorable effect the point of view of a terrified young boy. This novel centers on Pietro Moroni, a skinny, introspective boy in a small village, who is taunted at school and ignored at home. When his favorite teacher, a spinster with problems of her own, lets him down, his anger—at the world, at his loutish parents and his hopeless brother—combusts. The story of the boy and his teacher intersects with that of a local playboy, a ne'er-do-well newly returned to the village, whose gargantuan narcissism cannot ward off a dawning realization of his life's errors. Ammaniti beautifully evokes the lopsided streets of an Italian backwater and, especially in Pietro's surprising friendship with the prettiest girl in the village, the shadow life of childhood.
Copyright © 2006 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate U.S. (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841959456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841959450
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,858,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Niccolo Ammaniti's "new" book, "I'll Steal You Away" is a melange of small but very passionate vignettes concerning a cross section of people in Ischiano Scalo, an Italian Peyton Place. His protagonists are one Pietro Moroni, an uncertain pre-teen who carries the responsibility of the world on his shoulders and Graziano Biglia, a forty-something ne'er-do-well. Their lives are largely connected with Flora Palmieri, a local school teacher on whom Pietro seeks revenge for failing him at school and with whom Graziano has a whirlwind courtship lasting one night.

I'll Steal You Away" is "new" in the sense that it was written before his wonderful 2003 book, "I'm Not Scared" (after which a gratifying movie was made) and translated by Jonathan Hunt (no relation to me) earlier this year. Ammaniti's attention to detail and his often graphic descriptions of characters in sensual scenes are in abundance in "I'll Steal You Away". He knows how to tell a story. However, this earlier book suffers from being too long where "I'm Not Scared" was of an apt length. While one of the aims of the book is to transfer a sense of worth and power to Pietro from Graziano during an encounter where the youngster is being attacked by his peers and Graziano comes to Pietro's aid, it nonetheless takes almost the entire length of the book to get to that point.

Hunt's very British translation makes for a fun sidelight (at least for American readers!) but Ammaniti shines in the force of his narrative delivery. It's a good book but some editing would have made "I'll Steal You Away" an even better one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Guy R. Hearn on December 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "I'll Steal You Away" Ammaniti gives us two intersecting tales of people trying to escape the deadness and brutality of Italian provincial life, interspersing these stories with cameos, walk ons and diversions from a range of hilariously drawn characters.

And whilst I would agree that the one of these narrative threads - the story of Graziano Biglia, ageing Lothario and charicature of the Latin stud, desperately trying to conjure up a respectable future as the local boy made good, whilst being led by the nose by the skittish, gold digging nude dancer Erica - is frequently hilarious, embarrasingly well observed, and always diverting, ultimately this is an entertainment. Such a cartoon is Biglia, that it is hard to be anything other than amused by his sufferings, or those of Flora, drawn reluctantly into his web thanks to the inhibition-lowering effects of MDMA.

But in his other narrative thread, Ammaniti has created one of the great adoloscent characters in literature. I challenge anyone who had a less than perfect childhood - and that's most of us - not to relate strongly to Pietro Moroni. Pietro, 12 years old but small for his age, struggles with a dysfunctional family dominated by an abusive alcoholic father and with bullying and victimisation from the local toughs. His only salvation comes from being the best friend and soulmate of Gloria, the most beautiful and feisty girl in town. But as Pietro hits adolescence that plank is also becoming shaky, as friendship starts to turn into something else, with all the uncertainties and fears that brings.

Pietro is swept along on a wave of events that he has no way of controlling, let down by all the adults in his life, only able to turn to the always supportive, but not always wise, Gloria.
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Format: Paperback
Early (1999) third novel by Niccolò Ammaniti (NA), who won great praise for his second, `I'm not Afraid', which was made into an awards-winning movie. This reader has read (only) five of NA's books and finds this creation his least. Why? NA's second novel about a 9-year old showed him to be a great writer about the mindset of growing-up children. He may not have wanted to write another such book that would be criticized as a repetition, sequel, or whatever. So, in this book Pietro (12), unhappy at home and bullied at school, is one of a few believable characters of a farce. His best friend is privileged Gloria, too cute for words. NA joins him precariously with a co-star, Graziano Biglia (44), a carefree playboy, musician, globetrotter, erotic champion, who when forced to choose, always makes the wrong decision. Pietro and Graziano meet briefly, late in the novel... Why? Because they hail from the same coastal village NW of Rome.
The first half of this novel is full of bad jokes, superlatives, clichés, prejudices, crude language and ugly violence. And references to Italian sing-along's, TV programs and -stars and English-language music and movies. Throughout the novel, the texts written in italics are a bonus to readers: they contain the thoughts of the main characters when under great pressure, in mortal fear.
Only after 250 pp a dramatic structure becomes evident. By then many readers may have given up. Persistent readers are rewarded by a satisfactory and dramatic ending. In an interview on internet, the author expressed his joy and satisfaction about writing this book. But he doubted that it could become a movie...
Overlong and full of bad taste, but altogether, a brilliant portrayal of a quiet child somehow driven to commit crimes. With 100-150 pp less, it would have been a better book.
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