Anyway, it’s always like that. You do your best to keep to yourself and then, one fine day, you somehow find you’re caught up in something that sweeps you along with it to the bitter end.
In a city smothering under the summer sun and an overdose of la dolce vita, Leo Gazarra spends his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between run-down hotels and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends, without whom he would probably starve. At thirty, he’s still drifting: between professions that mean nothing to him, between human relationships both ephemeral and frayed. Everyone he knows wants to graduate, get married, get rich—but not him. He has no ambitions whatsoever. Rather than toil and spin, isn’t it better to submit to the sweet alienation of the Eternal City? Rome, sometimes a cruel and indifferent mistress, sometimes sweet and sublime. There can be no half-measures with her, either she’s the love of your life or you have to leave her.
First discovered by Natalia Ginzburg, Gianfranco Calligarich’s Last Summer in the City is a forgotton classic of Italian literature, of a similar stature to The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye—and its recent reissue has brought with it comparisons to writers such as Capote, Hemingway, Franzen, and Moravia. Biting, tragic, endlessly quotable, it is at last making its debut in English translation, along with an introduction from longtime fan André Aciman.