The Years of Lead (Anni di piombo) is the title given to a period of political upheaval and explosive urban unrest in recent Italian history. Charged with the spirit of earlier autonomist and workerist actions, and energised by the global upsurge in rebellion and subversion in the late 1960s, a myriad of far-left factions, supporters and other radicals took to the streets of major Italian cities during the 70s. Some took up arms against the capitalist state and its neo-fascist accomplices in a series of violent, at times deadly, confrontations, provoked, in many instances, by excessive state repression.
The desperate life of the family is in sharp contrast to the shifting economic boom of the town more generally. Despite his youthful age Kenno has left school and is holding down two jobs in a determined effort to support the struggling family. He not only works in a shop during the day, but also helps his alcoholic and depressed father in his cleaning business.
In a recent book review in the Australian, the influential poet and critic Geoff Page referred to a ‘burgeoning group of young (or youngish) Australian female poets who are dominating the field [of Australian poetry] at the moment’.
These stories focus on individuals – generally men – who are lost, trapped, or apparently incompetent at their own lives; these stories turn on dialogue, and are riven with inconclusive tension.
The ensemble cast of Harmless includes Dave, a career criminal and all round desperado, who we meet at the beginning a long prison sentence for armed robbery; his young daughter, Amanda, a girl we both fear and admire for her sense of street-wise resilience (who uses wonderfully economical language, including the much neglected ‘fuck-knuckle’); Sua, Dave’s girlfriend, who is escaping a troubled past in her homeland, Thailand, and the dark secret she carries with her; and her father, Rattuwat, a man burdened by a sense of failure as a father, who has arrived in Australia under tragic circumstances.
At the centre of Marion May Campbell’s brilliant new novel Konkretion is Monique Piquet, an aging academic-cum-novelist who is wrestling with the abjection of her increasingly frail body as she arrives in Paris, ‘the site of her lost aura’ and of an earlier self bound up with an emphatically European tradition of avant-garde aesthetics, left-wing theory and radical activism.
‘But we are not historians, and this is not a history book.’ As with its putative subject, the convict outlaw Moondyne Joe, it’s hard to say in a short review what this book, in fact, is: a mixture of history, poetry, criticism, political analysis, memoir and literary esprit, it’s a work that consciously resists closure and definition.
Italian thinker and media activist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi is an important figure of today’s Leftist European theory. Having joined the Italian Communist Youth Federation in 1962 at the age of 14, he is often associated with the autonomist Anarcho-Marxist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, such as operaismo.
Domestic fiction is a contentious term, one used disproportionately about women writers. When a man writes about family, it tends to be described in other ways: Chekhovian, epic, national, universal.