Friday, 2 January 2009

That Awful Mess

[The Pantheon, Rome, May 2008.]

I spent a week (or thereabouts) in Rome. On this particular day I managed to buy and lose a copy of That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana by Carlo Gadda. 

I had traipsed across the Tiber to a little English language bookshop called the Almost Corner Bookshop. As is usual for me when travelling, I had trouble finding it, even though it was exactly where the map said it would be. 
Expectations seem to blind me to reality. I expect a bookshop to look like such and such, and instead it looks more like what I'd expect a haberdashery to look like from the outside.

In any case, that evening I returned to my hostel after reading only a few dozen pages, and left it by mistake in the hostel's bar. Ten minutes later I went back to retrieve it. But one of the drunken Australians or British backpackers had pocketed it. I scrutinised each one of them for the rest of the week, and I couldn't imagine any of them enjoying a modernist novel about a murder in 1930s Rome.