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Young Beasts at Play— Davide Longo

Oct 17, 2023 | Fiction | 0 comments



First Prologue

Five young people are walking along a pavement in the suburbs.

Two o’clock in the morning. A black leather jacket; a beige corduroy trench coat; a grey overcoat too short for the boy wearing it; a parka; a dark knitted sweater. The boy in the overcoat has a bag on his shoulder. The bag is magenta in colour, halfway between red and blue; there are two white numbers stamped on it. Walking beside him is the only girl. She is wearing the sweater and is more relaxed than the others.

They turn into a narrow, badly lit street. The windows of the surrounding houses and apartment blocks show no lights, the shutters of the shops are closed, and nothing can be heard but a tram passing down Corso Giulio.

“Perhaps we should think again about this”, the boy in the overcoat says. The girl takes his hand. No-one slows down or lifts their eyes from the pavement. 

A shabby old two-storey building has three lattice windows overlooking the road, and an oval sign above its front door that is difficult to read. No lights or signs of movement from the inside.

“Give the bag to me,” says the boy in the leather jacket.

The boy in the overcoat holds the bag out to him, and it clasp opens with a snap.

“Edo and Luciano, you two watch the windows. Nini and I will throw them in. Stefano, go to the corner and keep an eye on the road.”

Stefano slings the now empty bag back on his shoulder. The girl and the others wait for him to move as instructed. He limps to the corner, then looks towards the far-off lights. After a few seconds comes a soft explosion followed by the sound of breaking windows,  then a second even softer explosion.

The boy at the corner turns and the other four run toward him, while behind them yellow reflections begin to spread across the asphalt. He too begins to run. After a few metres the others catch him up. Their collective steps strike the road loudly.

Expectant, precise and unambiguous.

That is how young animals play, before they discover their claws were never meant for playing.


Also, read three Italian poems, written by Diego Valeri, translated into English by Laura Valeri, and published in The Antonym:

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Davide Longo

Davide Longo

Davide Longo was born in 1971 in Carmagnola, a flat town from where you can always see and almost touch the mountains, specifically the Monviso. Maybe that’s why in all his books, apart from the first novel from 2001, Un mattino a Irgalem which was situated in Ethiopia, the passion for and familiarity with the mountains almost always intertwined with his work as a writer. 

It was like that for Il mangiatore di pietre (The Stone Eater) which was set in the Valle Varaita; for the short story collection Racconti di Montagna; for the scenario of the film based on The Stone Eater, filmed in Switzerland and the Valle Varaita starring Luigi Lo Cascio; for the picture book La montagna pirata (The Pirate Mountain) that he made together with illustrator Fausto Gilberti .

Also in my novels L’uomo verticale (The Last Man Standing), Il Caso Bramard (Bramard’s Case), Le bestie giovani (The Young Beasts) and Una rabbia semplice (A Simple Rage), whereby the last three form a series with Arcadipane and Bramard as protagonists, the mountains are always present.

Silvester Mazzarella

Silvester Mazzarella

Silvester Mazzarella is a literary translator and biographer, born 1936: English mother and Italian father.

He matriculated in 1956 and followed his mother in reading English at the Hall, scraping a Second in 1959. As a lecturer in the English Department at Helsinki University, Finland and reviewer of British books for a leading Finnish newspaper (1965-88), he took a special interest in Finland’s second language, Swedish. Back in England from 1988, he read Italian at the University of Kent in Canterbury, taking a First in Italian there in 1995. It was only after 2000 that he started translating books into English, first from Swedish and later from Italian.


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