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Sasso by James Sturz - Book Review


James Sturz

Fiction-Net Rating 1 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

We learned that the girl had been on top when the two made love. A mapwork of contusions and abrasions lined her knees and the boy's back and a sprinkling of pebbly tufa clung to what had once been hot skin. The boy had held onto her sides tightly during the sex. There were hickeys and scratches and finger-shaped bruises contouring her ribs. Each other's skin was under their fingernails. From all the evidence, the couple had enjoyed themselves immensely before they went crazy. And before they went dead. There were people who said, "That's the way to die."

Alive, both the boy and girl had been young, handsome, healthy, nineteen years old and objectively desirable. In death, they were gruesome. But what people wondered about was the sex.

We Say

The tag line on the front cover of Sasso by James Sturz says 'A small Italian Town. Two dead teenagers. And a fatal secret.' Those short sentences, full of drama, death and intrigue read almost like a film poster. However, if Sasso had been a film I'd probably have cut my losses and walked out half way through.

James Sturz is undoubtedly a knowledgeable man when it comes to the history, culture and politics of Italy. Unfortunately, though the body count grows, the tension doesn't and there is only so much you can take when it comes to reading about landscapes and rock formation. This book is billed as a thriller and as such it surely isn't too much to ask to have some action. Sasso is quite simply far too slow and meandering to hold your attention.

The writing is not entirely without merit and there are some examples of interesting imagery. It's just a shame that most of the true gems are hidden amongst a swathe of self-conscious and pretentious excess. Wasted words such as when the lifestyle of the foreigners is described as, "a single world of calm violent succulence - where Calypso herself lolled in her cave, while the warrior Odysseus forswore immortality but went along with the sex."

James Sturz seems to be so preoccupied with letting the reader know how clever he is that he forgets to construct an interesting plot. Sasso full of mysticism, signs in the weather and gnarly but prophetic old women. Here, even confessions of infidelity read like essays. In fairness, a big theme in the novel is the importance of culture in shaping people's actions but the whole tone is too self absorbed and self-indulgent to make this interesting.

The main character of this book is collecting stories from the locals and manages to find some. I, on the other hand, reached the end of the book and felt like I'd missed the story altogether.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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