"The Chill" by Romano Bilenchi

A deceptively simple novella from this well respected Italian novelist. A coming of age story at its core but just beneath the surface it offers a lot more. The key line here is its opening line “The chill of suspicion and incomprehension arose between me and men when I was sixteen, at the time of my high school exams.” It is the story of an adolescent’s painful passage into adulthood. After the death of the narrator’s grandfather while on an outing, he increasingly becomes introspective, more removed from his friends and family and begins to have a growing awareness of mortality, sexuality and the essential impermanence of things. Ultimately, it’s a seemingly innocent erotic event that pushes him over the threshold. Bilenchi uses a lot of symbolism here and the prose is very much in a classical vein although the tale is thoroughly modern. It is truly a great read, one that will have you thinking about its themes long after you finish reading this.

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