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Distant Light Paperback – March 15, 2016
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"Despite its fable-like structure and brevity, Moresco has Kafka’s power to unnerve, and Walser’s genial strangeness. Something like a supernatural modernist story, Distant Light’s real territory is dreams, where readers may find the book’s imagery still lingering." — Publishers Weekly
"[A] man discovers a small boy living by himself in the woods, apparently self-sufficiently, and begins to visit him every few days. Their hesitant, budding relationship uncovers the pain of loneliness, the ephemerality of life, their insignificance in the universe—and the necessity of human connection ... imagery and language glow throughout. An unsettling and strangely tender novel." — Kirkus Reviews
"Combines poetry and philosophy. . . evokes profound concepts and deep emotions. . . Patient readers of philosophy will appreciate this brief but deliberately paced meditation." — Shelf Awareness
"At times, Distant Light reads like a straightforward fable, an elegant rumination on the mysteries of the soul. But there are a number of grave and surprising subplots in this story, each of which Moresco explores with great care. Brief but often quite moving, this enigmatic tale of solitude and companionship abounds with humanity." — Kevin Canfield, World Literature Today
"Though modest in length, Distant Light is a dense and thoughtful book that should be lingered over, rather than burned through. It dwells on esoteric questions, but also provides unsettling insight into the darkest depths of the human condition, as well as a uniquely complex rendering of its polarity. There are secrets to be uncovered here, it seems to whisper, if only you can pluck them from the shadows." — The Literary Review
"It is not the imitation of a classic, but a small classic in itself." -- Angelo Guglielmi, L'Unita
"Halfway between fairy tale and science fiction, between religious and sacreligious, between poetry and philosophy, this book by Antonio Moresco looks with careful but compelling insistence at the mystery of what happens 'in the dark funnel' of a life and the very material that makes literature." --Anna Ruchat, Pulp
"It is a Canticle of the Creatures re-examined and modified with the eye of Galileo and the tragic vision of Leopardi, a prayer without religion but full of human religiosity. This small enchanting book is a modern De rerum natura of lyrical biology. Moresco is not only one of the greatest Italian writers, he is also the ultimate poet." --Massimiliano Parente, Il Giornale
"[Moresco's trilogy is a masterpiece] that raises Moresco to the heights of Italian literature, placing him in a line that moves beyond postmodernity." -- The Financial Times
A review by Nathalie Crom of the French translation appeared in Télérama in October 2014 and can be found here: http://www.telerama.fr/livres/la-petite-lumiere,118194.php
About the Author
Antonio Moresco is the author of nearly twenty works, including fiction and essay collections. He co-founded the collective blog Nazione Indiana and is a contributing editor for the literary journal Il Primo Amore. His debut book of short stories, Clandestinità (Underground) appeared in 1993, when the author was forty-seven years old. A succession of novels soon followed, most importantly the first two volumes of his trilogy, L'increato (The Uncreated). He is still at work on the third volume.
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And it's fabulous on multiple different, but interconnected, levels. On a more subtle level, most of the settings and descriptions don't make sense. Our narrator lives alone as a hermit in a remote and completely abandoned village. Yet he has electricity and hot and cold running tap water. He is, almost literally, in the middle of nowhere, and yet he drives his car everywhere. The effect is that this remote village, which cannot exist the way it's described, becomes more a state of mind and mood than an actual place. What we end up with is the impression that everything, everywhere, is just sort of winding down.
On a larger level the plot, or more properly the interconnected scenes and events, suggest a ghost story, a descent into madness, some sort of post-traumatic disorder, an alien contact tale, or a slow unraveling of our narrator's grip on reality. You could make an argument for any of these interpretations, as well as many others, and to me that's what makes the book fun.
Not unsurprisingly, but interestingly, the chapters of the book could probably be shuffled at random without doing too much violence to the overall reading experience. The narrator has numerous run ins with dogs, which symbolize something to the author that I don't quite get. The narrator talks to bees and plants, which is some sort of Gaia/Earth angle that was also lost on me. Random characters, which may be additional ghosts or ghost memories, occasionally wander or march through the narrator's abandoned village.
But, in addition to these bits of business there are scenes of greater power. The narrator's conversations, often abrupt, truncated, and/or cryptic, about what may or may not be a night school for ghost children, and the narrator's interactions with an odd and close-mouthed alien hunter, are creepy and striking.
And of course at the heart of the book is the narrator's observations of and conversations with the boy who is the source of the "distant light" that animates the book. The child is mysterious and unknowable - an angel, a ghost, an alien, a stand-in for the narrator's soul? The slow circling of these two characters is what powers the book and drives the reader on, and the authors simple and sometimes even broken and abrupt narrative voice just heightens the stakes.
So, bottom line, this isn't anything like a traditional stoy; it is a mood piece and a meditation. But even though it is open ended and doesn't ever reach a clear resolution I wasn't annoyed or disappointed. It's inconclusiveness was in keeping with the entire enterprise, and I found it quite satisfactory.
(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)