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The Goodbye Kiss Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions; First Edition edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hailed as the master of the Mediterranean noir, Carlotto (The Columbian Mule) misfires in this disjointed, pulpy tale of carnage and crime. Taking a break from his acclaimed Alligator detective series, the Italian writer introduces us to Giorgio Pellegrini, a left wing radical who fled Italy after orchestrating a bombing, and after a long stint as a Central American guerilla fighter, returns to Italy to avoid a prison sentence. Picked up by the Italian police and facing a life sentence for the bombing, Giorgio snitches on his former comrades and serves a little time before his release and speedy relapse into vice. He finds work at a strip joint and quickly forms an uneasy alliance with the crooked cop who arrested him. Their plan, to rob an armored truck, is a wild success that allows Giorgio to feign and murder his way up the social ladder. Carlotto writes from experience (he was a left-wing radical who spent time in prison in Italy and Mexico) and it shows in this gritty, hold-nothing-back take on crime and the scant value of loyalty. Unfortunately, it doesn't make a palatable plot. The story stumbles over rocky transitions and scenes of gratuitous brutality. While his approach to social chaos is intriguing, the grisly, superfluous violence is a pale substitute for the unique criminal philosophy Carlotto is known for.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Perhaps the most difficult kind of noir novel to pull off is the crime tale narrated by a bad guy--not a crook with a heart of gold but somebody who does bad stuff for bad reasons. Europeans manage this trick much better than Americans, as Carlotto demonstrates here. Giorgio Pellegrino, a former left-wing terrorist, wants to return to Italy and is willing to do anything--including selling out his former friends--to do so. And, worse, he wants a shot at respectability even if it takes an armored-car holdup and numerous murders to make his dream possible. And, of course, he treats women brutally. No, there's nothing to like about Giorgio, yet we watch transfixed as he makes his climb from sewer to suburbs, one bloody rung at a time. The flat narration--just-the-facts-ma'am, without the Dragnet morality--drips with irony as Giorgio announces, "I could finally be like everybody else." Carlotto is highly regarded in Italy, but his work has never received wide distribution here. That needs to change. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

A book that can be read in one sitting.
Ruzan Siganporia
The voice and the language are superb, so hats off to the translator for bringing them across so well.
It was bad from the beginning just to be bad and kept that up throughout.
Brian Oldham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vittorio Caffè on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, I am glad that they translated Carlotto in English. I guess there is something in this novel that US crime/noir readers will appreciate: that is, the story told by the Bad Guy. And this Bad Guy, the narrating I of this dark story of corruption, violence, and politics (plenty of politics), is as good (or as bad) as the charaters you may meet in the pages of that underrated genius of US fiction, Jim Thompson.

The man who tells the story is a former Brigate Rosse terrorist and exile. But he is above all a cynical, cold, amoral individual. His story is the grim tale of how you can be formally rehabilitated, thanks to good connections and a corrupt political system, yet remaining the insensitive thug you were. And such cold, cynical people are always appreciated in a world like the Italian Nordest in the 90s, where only money and glamour and power count.

Carlotto's simple style has been criticized because it doesn't meet the literary standards of critics who only care for a high number of synonims and adjectives and adverbs. Actually he writes in a language which is as simple, polished and piercing as a bullet. But some of his choices of words and details are simply powerful. And this book is one of those where you couldn't take away anything.

A remarkable thing is that in noir you always have the dark lady. This is an exception. Here you have the dark man. The lady is the only clean person in the story...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martin on May 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I have read this three times now. Sure it's noir and it's dark and it's full of twists and great characters - but honestly, what hooks me is the energy of the thing.

It doesn't have a structure in the may it ought to. It seems almost amateurish in the way it's put together (his other books are more professional), but this novel moves with the power of an express train and i loved it froom beginning to end. The first twelve pages move so quickly that you can hardly get your breath. People aren't supposed to write like this - it's like a dark, nasty stream of consciousness where so much happens it's unreal.

But it works. The voice and the language are superb, so hats off to the translator for bringing them across so well.

Not everyone will like this. It's very dark, nasty and violent, but casual with it. A remarkable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Frank Stech on June 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Giorgio Pellegrino, the protagonist of Massimo Carlotto's "The Goodbye Kiss," is a classic sociopath. Despite a thoroughly black heart, he earns our sympathies as a villain above-average in intelligence and easily in the top 10% of the class in utter deviousness, devoted mostly to doing in his criminal conspirators, whom he sets upon us innocents, while his hands stay relatively clean. Pellegrino bests his fellow criminals brutally and efficiently, betrays his partners, fools and degrades his women, destroys the innocent with a classy delicacy and respect, and submits only to the more powerful.
As dishonest and deceptive as Pellegrino is to nearly everyone else, he is pretty nearly completely honest with himself, and, as our narrator, with us, the readers. By the end of this novel, I felt like his shrink. Having heard this sincere account of his crimes and evils, there wasn't much a shrink could do except trust Pellegrino to continue in his black ways, despite all his proclaimed intentions to join the "normal" people. Like all true sociopaths, Pellegrino excels at blending into his surroundings and faking sincerity, even to himself. Pellegrino tells great tales, and repellent as he is, I'd look forward, week to week, to hearing him tell his next black episode. He could make any sinner feel near-saintly.
This novel is supposedly semi-autobiographical; Carlotto had many experiences akin to Pellegrino's. If so, I suspect Carlotto will continue to bring us cold, sadistic, and brutal blackhearts, telling shocking but captivating tales of their evil-doings, letting us peak into those well-hidden hearts of darkness, beating among us.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zootsuit on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
You would have to look hard in modern literature for a `hero' of a book to be quite so despicable as the central character in The Goodbye Kiss. He starts out idealistic enough. He and his young chum have joined the Red Brigade for idealistic reasons. When things go wrong and the police are on their trail, they flee to South America to join the guerrillas. While there, the central character, Giorgio Pellegrini, commits an act under orders from his commander that finally convinces him that idealism is for the birds and that from then on he's in it for himself.

And in it he is. He returns to Italy to face the music and, through a cynical deal, gets a short sentence. While in prison, he practices the exploitative skills that will stand him in good stead when he is released.

Pelligrini will commit any crime, including a series of cold, conscienceless murders, to get what he wants: respectability and a life of financial ease. Slowly but surely, he works his way up, a trail of blood behind him, until he is faced with an ultimate crisis to resolve.

It was, at times, difficult to bear the character's total lack of conscience. But his fanatical devotion to his own cause was mesmerizing. The novel shows a side of Italy not well known to outsiders and probably not to most Italians themselves. Whores, pimps, Albanian gangs, drug dealers, crooked cops populate the novel. Their world is one of power and betrayal.

Carlottto, who had personal familiarity with Italy's prisons, has achieved the pinnacle of noir novels. In spite of his moral deformities, you can't help rooting for Giorgio and be impressed with his manipulative skills. The one virtue that he possesses is courage. He takes risks, calculated ones, but knows that if he fails it will either be life in prison or a very certain death.

I recommend the book highly for its tense atmosphere, hard hitting prose and, most of all, a memorable character.
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