Dave Eggers is without doubt one of the most prominent American contemporary writers and all his works have been translated into Italian, including his latest novel The Parade, published by Feltrinelli this year. All his works except the collection Short Short Stories, which was originally published by Penguin in 2005 as a Pocket Penguin. I think it’s time to fix this.
The collection contains 24 (quite short) short stories, and it feels like a box chocolates where every new chocolate tastes even better than the previous one. The stories are indeed quite short, but they are also explosive in their content and writing style, making for a unique reading experience. Most of them could be described as quite bizarre – some of them even absurd – but it’s the inventiveness, along with Egger’s love of the unexpected, that really transform this collection into a superb example of short fiction.
This collection, published at the dawn of George W. Bush’s second term, is imbued with the oppressive political atmosphere of those years and Eggers does not shy away from taking a strong position and being quite vocal about his dislike of Bush and his VP Cheney. The intricacies of American politics might not be too familiar to a foreign reader, however I’m sure the overarching themes and progressive views will resonate with quite a large readership in Italy, too.
If you read in Italian and want to have a taste of what the collection is like, I’ve actually translated two stories on this blog: It Is Finally Time to Tell the Story and This Flight Attendant (Gary, Is It?) Is On Fire. They’re both really good examples of how Eggers is able to twist a whole story around right at the very end – sometimes even on the very last sentence.
Selling this collection to a foreign market might be a bit of a tough challenge. This collection has never been translated before, possibly because, as I’ve said previously, it is deeply rooted in the American culture and socio-political discourse. However, as this discourse becomes more and more global, I believe readers everywhere (including Italy) will be more and more keen to read stories centred around such witty and thought-provoking social commentary.
The majority of Egger’s works were published in Italy by Mondadori (or Feltrinelli); however I believe this collection would be better suited to a smaller and more niche publisher, like for example Minimum Fax, which already published one his works, the novel The Unforbidden is Compulsory; or, Optimism in 2004.
In short (see what I did there?), this collection is sharp, bizarre and absolutely additive and I believe It Is Finally Time To Publish It in Italy.
This is M signing out for now! ✨