Pasolini should be better known in English as a writer—as a poet, novelist, and journalist—and this volume provides a good introduction. It's a collection of short pieces written between 1950, when Pasolini arrived in Rome, "the city of God," from his native Friuli, and 1966, and published mainly in newspapers and periodicals. The first half of the book is a stroll through lowlife Rome—the ragazzi (street boys) selling chestnuts on the Ponte Garibaldi, or diving off a float in the Tiber, or stealing fish from the city market to sell in Testaccio. The pieces in the second half range from commentary on Roman slang and on housing for the poor to an account of a day spent with Alberto Moravia. Throughout, the main character is the city, where "beauty and ugliness go hand in hand": "The latter renders the former touching and human. The former allows us to forget the latter."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Pasolini's lightness of touch and breadth of observation combine in a gestural prose with a revolutionary purpose. -- Film Comment, Nov/Dec 2003, Gary Indiana reviewer