Saturday, 17 August 2013

Mr. B’s Reading Year No. 3: The Break by Pietro Grossi (2007)

“Small and perfectly formed” is one quote on the cover of this deceptive book and it accurately sums up this little charmer.  Set in a small Italian town, this seems an everyday tale where nothing much happens.  Dino, the main character, works on the town roads, with his small gang, creating and repairing perfect stone block work.  His recreation is billiards in the local cafĂ©/billiards hall, run by the legendary player Cirillo.  As a boy, Dino is set the task by Cirillo of getting the ball to return to the exact spot – every time.  He perseveres.  As a man, he is quietly married to Sophia and they live frugally with little income.  Into this routine of stonework, billiards and home, slowly change comes. First, the arrival of tarmac and the break-up of the road gang. That does bring change, but going to national billiards tournaments at Cirillo’s suggestion (he will not go) is another.  Dino, as a country hick, just does his thing and wins, but it is for Sophia and the potential of fame and fortune is not for him.  With changes to work, comes protest, corruption, a bomb, a bit of racism, then tragedy at home, redemption and love.  How did all that happen, when nothing much was happening?  It is a mystery created by the writing.  Read and weep.