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A Comprehensive Search for Explanations

The Catholic School by Edoardo AlbinatiGuest Post by Katy Scrogin

Sheltering in place has provided the perfect opportunity to dive into Edoardo Albinati’s The Catholic School, a thorough exploration of the author’s coming of age in a particular Roman neighborhood in the 1970s. More than simple description or reminiscence, the book is propelled by a comprehensive search for explanations—specifically, regarding a gruesome crime committed by a few of the quarter’s well-heeled young inhabitants. The story is itself an unsparing quest to understand the conditions and sentiments and reigning assumptions that made such a thing even conceivable.

This is no straightforward mystery or crime novel, and indeed, readers not fond of philosophical or sociocultural speculation will probably not enjoy what for this reader amounts to delicious intellectual revelry. But if the lengthy and incisive discourses on bourgeois morality and hypocrisy, the nature of violence, the troubling and troubled realities of masculinity, the strange arena that is the family, or religion and politics in Italy, aren’t your bag, all is not lost! The 1200-plus-page behemoth can most certainly be incorporated into that weight-training routine you have time to take up now that we’re all stuck inside.

The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati. Macmillan, August 2019.

Reviewer bio: Katy Scrogin’s most recent online work is featured at The Book Smuggler’s Den and The Bookends Review. She can also be found at katyscrogin.wordpress.com.

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