Cocaine

Pitigrilli, trans. from the Italian by Eric Mosbacher. New Vessel (www.newvesselpress.com), $16.49 trade paper (261p) ISBN 978-1-939931-09-2
Pitigrilli will find a new generation of readers with this new edition translation of his comic cautionary tale flaunting the ludicrous excesses and depths of despair in the underbelly of Europe in the roaring '20s. Medical student Tito Arnaudi refuses on a misguided principle to remove his monocle while sitting for an exam, and is therefore unable to obtain a degree. In a huff, he leaves Italy for Paris where he declares himself a professor and doctor on his visiting cards, cons his way into a job as a journalist at a newspaper called The Fleeting Moment, and almost immediately becomes addicted to cocaine. Arnaudi becomes equally obsessed with a marginally talented dancer and accomplished party girl, Maud. Unable to write proper articles due to his nightly debauchery, Arnaudi resorts to sensational yellow journalism to fulfill his duties until the editor becomes so distraught he pays Arnaudi not to write. The novel takes a melodramatic turn after Arnaudi follows Maud to Buenos Aires only to be cuckolded and spurned after she undergoes a drastic operation to prolong her other career as a kept woman. Along the way, Pitigrilli never loses his droll sense of humor, or playful use of language, which ensures this little romp is always a pleasurable one. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
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