Jim's Reviews > The Skin

The Skin by Curzio Malaparte
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Jan 29, 12

bookshelves: 20th-century-lit, fiction
Read from January 26 to 29, 2012

Curzio Malaparte could only be described as a literary chameleon. The son of a German father and an Italian mother, he was born in Tuscany under the name of Kurt Erick Suckert. He changed his last name from Suckert to Malaparte, the opposite of Buonaparte -- from a good place -- the family name of Napoleon. He began as a Fascist who supported Mussolini, but as a result of his snarky attitudes, he served time in several Fascist jails, until he was released by Mussolini's heir. He was then assigned to cover World War II on the Eastern Front, from the German side, wearing his original regimental uniform of the Alpine regiment with its black plumes.

The Skin begins with him, under his own name, collaborating with the American invaders. Most of the book takes place in Naples, where the American conquerors arrived only to find a starving people suffering from plague. Much of the book looks like nonfiction, but its author does so much posturing that I am convinced at least half of it is fictional, if not more. In an essay on his other well-known book, Kaputt, Dan Hofstader calls Malaparte "an intellectual harlequin and consummate arriviste. [H]e found it hard to mask his scorn for those in power: hence his oscillation between strident sloganeering and a stylish, riddling equivocation."

Although the events described in The Skin are truly horrible -- the book is riddled with blood and dead bodies -- Malaparte vitiates his treatment of the war by always being over-conscious of himself striking a pose to curry favor with those around him. Still and all, the man writes well; and reading the book, I was always interested to see what this raconteur would come up with next.
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01/26/2012 page 37
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message 1: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta still reading warlock, about half way through just beginning to sort out the characters, I figure they're all gonna end up dead, all the gunsligers on all sides. even tough a westerner I'm not familiar with the toubstone az saga.


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