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Quiet Chaos: A Novel Paperback – April 12, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Veronesi's absorbing second novel translated into English (after The Force of the Past), Italian television executive Pietro Paladini saves a woman from drowning at the exact moment his wife, Lara, suddenly dies. After the unexpected death, Pietro becomes enveloped in a strange calm, and he spends each day outside his daughter's school, observing the quiet rhythms of life. Meanwhile, his bosses visit him to share cryptic information about a messy corporate merger, and his co-workers, buckling under the strain of the merger, turn to him for advice and go a little crazy. Things get even messier when Pietro encounters the woman he rescued, Eleonora, a wealthy seductress whose life has also been upended by that pivotal moment. Veronesi finds some success in this courageous and difficult project, creating an unreliable narrator who feels an unusual manifestation of grief, though the subplots are so crudely satirical that it's unclear where the winking satire ends and the realist psychological drama begins. Moore's translation is commendable, especially considering the cacophony of voices and Pietro's racing, fractured narration as he dwells in that space between sorrow and madness. (Apr.)
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Review

“Mr. Veronesi sustains the opening scene’s excitement as he stirs a psychological ferment….The overpowering sense of fragility that touches Pietro and Claudia is superbly conveyed by translator Michael F. Moore. Let’s hope more novels from Mr. Veronesi’s back catalog join ‘Quiet Chaos’ in translation.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Dazzling.... Like a literary Fellini, Veronesi brings to life the larger-than-life human comedy as only an Italian would dare, uproariously funny in the face of stark tragedy. It’s a reading experience not to be missed.” (Shelf Awareness)

“[An] absorbing second novel.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 Tra edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061572942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061572944
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
After Lara, the mother of his child, unexpectedly dies while Pietro is at the beach saving the life of a drowning stranger, Pietro spends his days in his car outside his daughter's school, contemplating the quiet chaos of children spilling out of the building, experiencing an almost euphoric relaxation that has taken the place of grief. A good bit of the novel takes place in Pietro's mind as, in his thoughts, he justifies the affairs he had before Lara died, considers his absent feelings of loss, judges the friends and co-workers who visit him in his parked car and is judged by Lara's sister, with whom he had a fling before he met Lara. Pietro is an executive in the Milan office of a cable television company that is undergoing an international merger, creating another element of chaos as his boss is sacked, but Pietro -- despite daily visits from company officers and employees -- is indifferent to the workplace turmoil, finding peace and tranquility in the park adjacent to the school, where he engages in amiably superficial conversation with the woman who takes her golden retriever for a daily stroll and plays a recurring game with a Down's Syndrome child whose mother is taking him to physical therapy sessions.

There's something seductive about Sandro Veronesi's prose, something that drew me in and held my attention even when nothing much was happening. Other than the early scene in which Pietro and his brother save two women from drowning, there is little action in Quiet Chaos. There is, instead, a good bit of observation and contemplation. Pietro listens to Radiohead and decides that the few lyrics he can understand are meant for him, messages from Lara.
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I loved the film version of this, so bought the book and am so glad I did. His writing in this book is really quite spectacular in a sort of stream of consciousness way. Very compelling, and the story is likewise original. Loved it.
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Format: Paperback
Every now and then as a writer, I come across a novel I desperately wish I had written. This is one of them. Beautiful, meditative, strange, clever, and wise, Quiet Chaos takes its place on my personal shelf of "books I keep coming back to," alongside Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, Lars Gustafsson's The Death of a Beekeeper, John Berger's Here Is Where We Meet, and Bohumil Hrabal's Closely Watched Trains.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes one has to wonder why certain pointless material is not edited out of a book. "Quiet Chaos" is an exquisitely written book about human interaction and motivation that just misses brilliance. If you want the brilliance w/o the self indulgence, you just need to skip over three chapters--one mind-numbing dream, one drug-addled opium-induced vision, and one nothing-that-anyone-needed-to-read about aggressive anal sex encounter. None of these have the slightest relevance to the novel's story line. Other than these, I would definitely give the book five stars.
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