Boys Alive (Paperback)
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A daring novel, once widely censored, about the scrappy, harrowing, and inventive lives of Rome's unhoused youth by one of Italy's greatest film directors.
Boys Alive, published in 1955, was Pier Paolo Pasolini's first work of fiction and it remains his best known. Written in the aftermath of Pasolini's move from the provinces to Rome, the novel captures the. hunger and anger, waywardness and squalor of the big city. The life of the novel is the life of the city streets; from the streets, too, come its raw, mongrel, assaultive language. Here unblinkered realism and passionate lyricism meet in a vision of a vast urban inferno, blazing with darkness and light.
There is no one story to the book, only stories, splitting off, breaking away, going nowhere, flaming out, stories in which scenes of comic debacle, bitter conflict, wild joy, and crushing disappointment quickly follow. Pasolini's young characters have nothing to trade on except youth, and the struggle to live is unending. They loot, hustle, scavenge, steal. Somehow money will turn up; as soon as it does it will get spent. The main thing, in any case, is to have fun, and so the boys boast and vie, the desperate uncertainty of their days and nights offset by the fabulous inventiveness of their words. A warehouse heist, a night of gambling, the hunt for sex: The world of Boys Alive is a world in convulsion where at any instant disaster may strike.
Tim Parks' new translation of Pasolini's early masterpiece brings out the salt and brilliance of a still-scandalous work of art.
About the Author
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1972) was an Italian filmmaker and writer known for his defiance of the political, social, and artistic status quos of postwar Italy. In his work across mediums, he broached taboo topics in relation to sexuality, religion, and the condition of the poor. In the 1950s, he became well-known in Italy for his novels and poetry, winning the Viareggio Prize for the latter in 1957. In the 1960s and 70s, he was catapulted to international fame for his films, including The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Mamma Roma, Salò, Oedipus Rex, and The Hawks and the Sparrows.
Tim Parks is a British author and translator. His novels include Tongues of Flame, which won the Betty Trask Award and Somerset Maugham Award, and Europa, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He is also known for his nonfiction work on Italian culture and his translations of Alberto Moravia, Antonio Tabucchi, and Niccolò Machiavelli, among others, from the Italian. He lives in Italy.
“Episodic and unpredictable, this novel...move[s] effortlessly between scenes of everyday life and moments when characters find their lives in extraordinary danger...It’s no easy feat to evoke both the exuberance of young men coming of age and the stark state of post-World War II Italy; Pasolini, in Parks’s translation, does a striking job of it.” —Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders
"Pasolini’s debut novel.... given a new translation by Parks, foreshadows his focus as a filmmaker on restless and sometimes dangerous young men struggling to survive the mean streets of postwar Rome. As Parks reveals in his illuminating introduction, Pasolini 'confessed' that the novel has no plot....Pasolini’s fans will find this eye-opening." —Publishers Weekly