Trick by Domenico Starnone

Posted October 17, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 2 Comments

Trick by Domenico StarnoneTitle: Trick (Goodreads)
Author: Domenico Starnone
Translator: Jhumpa Lahiri
Published: Europa Edition, 2018
Pages: 192
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature 2018

Have you ever read a novel that you felt was completely pointless? That is how I feel about Trick by Domenico Starnone. The novel follows the story of Daniele Mallarico a successful illustrator coming to the end of his career who was asked by his daughter to look after his grandson Mario. Set over 72 hours we follow Daniele struggling with his own thoughts towards his illustrations and dealing with his four-year-old know-it-all grandson.

I admit I identified with the solitude and grumpiness of Daniele and was constantly feeling frustrated with Mario. I have no idea how someone deals with a young child that thinks they know everything. Especially when that child wants to do everything because they know how to do it, but, when something goes wrong, breaks down. Daniele’s daughter and son-in-law think that Mario is independent and will look after himself but this is far from the reality.

This is a very plot driven novel and I felt like the characters were too flat. I liked Daniele but in reality I do not know him. An aging illustrator who likes to live alone is the extent of the character. It is hard to write children, so Mario read like a bratty teenager who is in reality a four-year-old. The relationship of Mario’s parents seems like a more interesting narrative but that all happens off the page.

I am disappointed with Trick and am glad that it was a quick read. Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, this seems to be the main reason Domenico Starnone is getting attention. I plan to give Starnone one more chance with Ties but if that reads similar to Trick, I probably will never return to his writing. I just expect more from my literature.

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