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Brief Lives of Idiots
by Ermanno Cavazzoni
Published by Wakefield Press
7"x4.5", 192p, paperback
A parody of the medieval Lives of the Saints, this book offers us a perfect month of portraits of idiots drawn from real life, from overly realist writers to fringe-belief obsessives, punctuated every seventh day with a litany of suicides, failed, foolish or fatal to others. This roll call extends the ridiculous to melancholic extremes, introducing us to such exemplary fools as the father and husband unable to recognize his own family, the Marxist convinced that Christ was an extraterrestrial, the would-be saint who finds a private martyrdom through the torturous confinement of a pair of ill-fitting leather oxfords and the man who failed to realize that he had spent two years in a concentration camp. This is a display of myriad idiocy, discovered and achieved by hook or by crook, be it through paranoia, misapplied methodology, religious hallucination or relentless diarrhea. But Cavazzoni engages in neither finger pointing nor celebration. If saints can be counted, idiots cannot: idiocy is ultimately the human condition. A blissful and baneful litany of human stupidity, from Italian fantastical absurdist Ermanno Cavazzoni, member of the literary group OpLePo, an Italian spin-off of the OuLiPo.
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