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It’s hard to like the book when you despise the narrator.
Contents:
  1. Francesco Pacifico
  2. The Story of My Purity: A Novel - Francesco Pacifico - كتب Google
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He stops reading fiction -- indeed, he finds himself with an: "aversion to culture and especially to subcultures" -- and he turns to Catholicism, embracing it with complete devotion. He marries a good Catholic, Alice, too, and works as an editor for a conservative Catholic publisher, Non Possumus 'we cannot' -- alluding to the cry of the devoted Abitene's, 'we cannot live without Sundays' -- while his sister is a successful figure in the literary mainstream. Among the consequences of his transformation is that he also adopts a mindless form of anti-Semitism, and: Having the Jews occupy the hot seat in my new cosmology represented not only a forbidden pleasure but also the opportunity to come to terms with those who shaped me, a list of singers, writers, artists, philosophers.

The problem with his new lifestyle and philosophy is that while it offers a bit of a hold -- dependable, deep-rooted stability -- he's fundamentally bored by it, and he finds personal including professional, and spiritual, and sexual, etc. With a well-to-do family in the background, a devoted wife, and a community of fellow-believers always there for him on at least that religious level , he has a very sturdy safety net -- but he doesn't seem particularly happy with relying on it to the extent he does.

Francesco Pacifico

And he doesn't know what to do with himself: the book opens at Christmas, , when he wants to hit up his father for some money so he can open up his own publishing house, but with only the most indefinite plans for it his father barely even takes him seriously. For all his religious fervor, Piero seems also largely to only go through the religious motions but that quite faithfully ; thankfully, there's not much description of his Church-related experiences, as he seems as bored by them as readers likely would be.

Indeed, he seems less a believer than a follower -- going along with something that provides some structure to his life but which he doesn't really comprehend or care to comprehend. There's also the problem of sex, which Piero has trouble coming to grips with. On the one hand, he and his wife have more or less given up having sexual relations. On the other hand, his virginal sister-in-law's big breasts continue to remind him that there are some primal urges rumbling within him.

Meanwhile, the book he is supposed to be editing for Non Possumus is one he realizes will be very controversial, as The Jewish Pope will claim that John Paul II had a Jewish mother and that he was under the sway of the followers of Jacob Frank -- to the extent that: "his 'Christianity with man at the center' may be nothing other than Frankism in disguise".

Publication of such an argument will go down well in some conservative quarters, but Piero seems to realize that if he is associated with it his reputation will also be permanently tarred by it -- and for all his enthusiasm for the Catholic cause he clearly isn't that eager to stick his neck out that far.

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Yes, Piero has difficulty committing to anything : his publishers' ideology, even holy matrimony yes, they married, but there's not much consummating going on, defeating a main Catholic purpose of marriage Piero takes the childish way out and flees, getting a job in Paris -- a more or less fictional job -- and flailing about there, a bit more freely but no less haplessly. He makes some friends -- some women, a Jewish man -- but continues to be unable to make any sort of commitment. Some of the women there pretty much throw themselves at him, but he does his best to remain true to distant Alice who stays behind in Rome , as they enjoy: "a relationship that was, as it were, esoteric, unintelligible to the profane".

It's not clear how intelligible it is to him, either -- he seems to have relatively little invested in it, and seems to use it largely only as an excuse to avoid having to take any real action. And for all his Catholic purity, he doesn't have much of a problem taking up surfing for porn on the internet either. There seem to be myriad reasons -- yet few that convince as any sort of 'reason'. Piero is directionless, with one of the tracks he's following -- Catholicism -- an ill fit that he remains stuck on but which looks a lot like it's a train to nowhere. Pacifico, a generation younger than Michel Houellebecq, has written a Houellebecqian novel of contemporary Italian society, complete with an unsympathetic loser of a protagonist.

It used to be something almost meaningless, at first. Like eating. People would for example get married, have children, then become celibate again after that, after having obliged their passionate nature. Then the sanctification of family in the modern age cancelled all savvy and practical wisdom and imposed this idea of people not having sex before marriage, and then people starting living together with no interest whatsoever in subtleness of inclination and character. This parade of versions of marriage made me see myself as the umpteenth mistake in a history of mishandling an extremely delicate thing.

It was about seeing the way history had taken its toll on my underwear life. Omnia munda mundis , I guess.

But I think that focusing on purity is a way to avoid the problem of being engaged by life, of letting it challenge you. Focusing on keeping yourself intact is a perennial detour. It was about halfway through reading your novel narrated by Piero Rosini that I thought, I wonder what the relation is between Catholic confession and the so-called confessional style. Is there a relation?

I am talking as your priest here. Then I robotically developed a confessional voice—in real life—but one that I find contrived. I was raised on chocolate by a complicated mom. So in this book I wanted to try the confessional tone I never use with priests.

But I was really not into confessional. And you are describing a kind of upside-down conversion, so I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the technique.

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The Story of My Purity: A Novel - Francesco Pacifico - كتب Google

You know what the real problem of conversion and narration is? Believers take conversion too seriously. I hate Bernanos from the bottom of my heart. Whereas in the scriptures, we have very nice and unassuming depictions of conversions. People are struck by lightning and then they act funny.

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But Catholic writers want the reader to believe that the characters really found grace. I think a conversion makes a person look funny. I pray all day.

I pray when I drive my scooter. Today I was praying to Mary in traffic, I was mentioning my list of dead people I pray for every day. Yelling, praying.

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Believing, not believing. Not a big deal. So I hate Christian writers who want to portray it like it were this huge thing. I seem to have found no question here. Just—talk more about sex writing, maestro.


  • THE STORY OF MY PURITY by Francesco Pacifico. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Twilley;
  • The Story of My Purity: A Novel.
  • Giulio Coniglio in gita nel bosco (Italian Edition).
  • The Story of My Purity: A Novel by Francesco Pacifico.
  • Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England (Womens and Gender History).

My Italian editor told me he was surprised that he got so excited reading about sex with unattractive women in my book. I like women a lot. If you think this way, even the most fleeting, rarefied form of sex can be fully inhabited. I think of sexual fantasies as if they were rooms. The very idea of a woman entering a store to buy a particular type of stockings with you in mind.

And also, I think everyone is a teenager about sex all their lives. Women are not in control, and this makes it so much more interesting and endearing. Which is, in turn, just as endearing. Padre , I believe. You know what? I think he likes men more than he likes women. When you and I talk I feel kind of gay, but then I hang out with women and they win.

We once talked about this novel as being an object. Can you talk a bit more about what you mean by a novel as an object? The novel is a speech that someone cast a spell on and turned into stone. When in stone, the quality of freewheeling vagueness is slightly transformed.


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  6. So you capture what has life and give it the power to stay there, hardened, nonreal. I find it beautiful. When a radio sings to you with the voice of Dylan, the radio is this square object, with angles, that gives out this gift, this elegant live thing.