The Fugitive, by Massimo Carlotto. Published 2007 by Europa Editions.
Massimo Carlotto is widely considered to be the "King of Mediterranean
Noir," one of the most popular authors in Europe of gritty, dark crime
fiction. I'm a big fan of his; I've read everything he's published with
Europa Editions and I'm always looking for more. The Fugitive is a
memoir he wrote about his life on the lam in the 1970s basically.
Before he was a crime writer, he was an innocent man convicted of murder
at the center of a famous and widely discussed case that helped change
the Italian system of jurisprudence. He was convicted, then he was
acquitted, then he was convicted again, and then he ran. (I think. It's confusing.) He ran to
France and then to Mexico, where his journey ended and he was sent back
to Italy, where he turned himself in. Then he received a presidential
pardon and his life took yet another turn.
covers his case from beginning to end but focuses on the years he spent
in hiding. Parts of it read like a virtual how-to on how to live
underground. He played different characters in his attempts to blend in-
a tourist, or a businessman, or an intellectual. He hung out with
revolutionaries and political types, with artists and writers and with
ordinary people on the margins like himself. He conducted love affairs
and friendships. He witnessed heartbreak, death and horrible things. He
became ill in prison and nearly died. But eventually he was vindicated.
The Fugitive is
a fascinating and addictive read. The narrative doesn't always stay on
track chronologically; he veers from topic to topic sometimes, and one
reviewer hit it on the head when he said that the book reads like the
conversation you would expect to have with Carlotto over a leisurely
Italian dinner with lots of wine and plates passed around. His tone is casual yet
there is an urgent emotional undercurrent that works to keep the
reader's interest. He comes across as desperate and scared and lacking
control, a man who is always trying to maintain control of his life and often
if you've never read his novels (which you should do now, by the way)
his memoir is a great snapshot of a time and place, of what it was like
to be underground and part of a community of political activists and
others barely tethered to society as most of us know it. Some of it will
break your heart, like the story of a couple he knew in Mexico who
literally lost their young son one day in Mexico City, or the anonymous
German man who died in Carlotto's Mexican jail cell, who knows why. If
you do like his novels, The Fugitive is required reading but it's a riveting great read for true crime fans just the same.
This is my fifth book for the 2013 challenge!