Piperno, Alessandro 1972-
Piperno, Alessandro 1972-
Born 1972, in Rome, Italy.
Home—Rome, Italy. Office—Universita di Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy, professor of French literature.
Campiello Prize for first novels for Con le peggiori intenzioni.
Proust antiebreo (title means "Proust the Anti-Jew"), F. Angeli (Milan, Italy), 2000.
Con le peggiori intenzioni (novel), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 2005, translation by Ann Goldstein published as The Worst Intentions, Europa Editions (New York, NY), 2007.
Il demone reazionario: sulle tracce del Baudelaire di Sartre, 2nd edition, A. Gaffi (Rome, Italy), 2007.
Alessandro Piperno was born in Rome, Italy, in 1972, and became a professor of French literature there at Tor Vergata University. His first nonfiction book, Proust antiebreo, the title of which translates as "Proust the Anti-Jew," met with very mixed reactions. His debut novel, Con le peggiori intenzioni, was an immediate best seller and was awarded the Campiello Prize for first novels. It was translated and published in English as The Worst Intentions.
As the novel begins, Daniel Sonnino, the thirty-three-year-old narrator, and his family are grieving the death of the family patriarch, Bepy Sonnino, a womanizing textile tycoon who lost a fortune following a disagreement with a business partner. Bepy was a sharp dresser who charmed salesmen and satisfied his sexual cravings with abandon. Extremely self-centered, he controlled his family with an iron hand, even as his checks bounced and his creditors pursued him in order to collect what was owed them. Daniel is an adjunct professor at a university in Rome, and he has written one book titled All the Anti-Semitic Jews: From Otto Weininger to Philip Roth. He grew up among the rich and famous, but he somehow never fit in, and he now sees himself as a failure. Leslie Patterson commented in a Library Journal review that although "the novel is rich in detail, one might wish that reading about the revels of wealthy Romans were more fun."
Other survivors include Bepy's wife, Ada, sons Luca, an albino, and Teo. Daniel reveals that Teo is an émigré who supports the Likud party and who left for Israel to escape from his father. Daniel notes that an adolescent encounter with Teo's wife, Micaela, resulted in his foot fetish. Daniel's long-standing obsession with Gaia Cittadini, the beautiful blonde granddaughter of Bepy's partner, has continued unabated, leading to his compulsive masturbation. "No subject is taboo," noted Martha J. King, who reviewed the original edition in Italian for World Literature Today. "He talks to us like an old friend to whom he can confess his secret thoughts, certain of our understanding and sympathy." In describing the lavish life his grandfather led while he was rich, Daniel describes his perversions, as well as his own.
Daniel makes references to a number of writers, including Tolstoy, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Austen, Henry Miller, Arthur Miller, and Philip Roth. Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson praised the story's setting, called Daniel's monologue "meandering," and commented that the novel "will likely strike some American readers as recycled Philip Roth."
Aysha Somasundaram reviewed the novel for the Bookslut Web site, noting that it "has a fairly apparent autobiographical dimension. Piperno's language and narrative are forceful and, on occasion, gripping in their ambivalent, descriptive power. Reading the novel is somehow much like witnessing an act of calculated violence, neighboring on self-mutilation." "This is a very bitter, very funny book," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Mostly Fiction Web site critic Guy Savage concluded: "The Worst Intentions is well written, full of descriptions of Daniel's eccentric relatives, and their equally eccentric friends. From his one-testicled cousin, to the lure of his chocolate-addicted aunt's smelly feet, the characters leap off the page with shades of Woody Allen-style humor. By the novel's conclusion, I felt as though I'd met these people. And while, ultimately, they would be great fun to know (in a limited capacity), one cannot help but carry a certain sympathy for Daniel, the only wallflower in the bunch."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Worst Intentions, p. 33.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2007, review of The Worst Intentions.
Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Leslie Patterson, review of The Worst Intentions, p. 73.
Publishers Weekly, May 7, 2007, review of The Worst Intentions, p. 44.
World Literature Today, September 1, 2005, Martha J. King, review of Con le peggiori intenzioni, p. 101.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (December 27, 2007), Aysha Somasundaram, review of The Worst Intentions.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (August 20, 2007), Guy Savage, review of The Worst Intentions.