Reading Group Selection for September

“…reminiscent of Camus’ social alienation and the amused misanthropy of Mencken, but with the pinpoint precision of fine wartime reportage and poetic engagement with natural landscapes beset by brutality.” – Kirkus Review

The Book Beat reading group selection for September is The Bird that Swallowed its Cage by Curzio Malaparte (translated by Walter Murch). The Reading Group will meet on Wednesday, September 27th at 7pm in the Goldfish Tea Room (117 W 4th St #101, Royal Oak, MI 48067). Reading Group selections are discounted 15% at Book Beat. For more information, please call (248) 968-1190. All are welcome!

Walter Murch first came across Curzio Malaparte’s writings in a chance encounter in a French book about cosmology, where one of Malaparte’s stories was retold to illustrate a point about conditions shortly after the creation of the universe. Murch was so taken by the strange, utterly captivating imagery he went to find the book from which the story was taken. The book was Kaputt, Malaparte’s autobiographical novel about the frontlines of World War II.

The film editor, fluent in translating the written word over to the languages of sight and sound, began slowly translating Malaparte’s writings from World War II. The density and intricacy of his stories compelled Murch to adapt many of them into prose or blank verse poems. The result is a body of work never before available to English readers.

“Unusual, engaging literary synthesis from a renowned film artisan and his private obsession, an Italian writer and political radical largely unknown in America…sparkling prose drives a fascinating snapshot of a literary life buffeted by the great conflicts of his time.”—Kirkus

“Curzio Malaparte is one of the most startling and unexpected chroniclers of the violence of the twentieth century, and Walter Murch’s translations are tone-perfect.” —Robert Hass

German-Italian writer, dramatist, and journalist Kurt Erich Suckert published under the pseudonym Curzio Malaparte (which he learned was Napoleon Bonaparte’s original family name), was born in Prato, and raised by foster parents. At age 13, Malaparte entered Ciognini College. At 16 he enlisted and served in World War I on the French front, and then was transferred to the Italian army. He led the 94th Section of Flamethrowers, and he was awarded the French Cross for his bravery. As a young man he was a member of the Italian Fascist party, but his attack on Totalitarianism, Technique du coup d’état: the technique of revolution (1931) angered Mussolini, and Malaparte was exiled on the island of Lipari. During World War II Malaparte worked as a correspondent for Corriere della Sera, and he moved to Paris after the war as his political views shifted to the left, encompassing aspects of Communism and Maoism.

His novels Kaputt (1946) and The Skin (1952) are precise, chilling portraits of war and liberation. Malaparte is also the author of the plays Du côté de chez Proust (performed in 1948), Das Kapital (performed in 1949), and Anche le donne hanno perso la Guerra (performed in 1954), as well as the screenplay for Il Cristo proibito (1951). The Bird that Swallowed Its Cage: The Selected Writings of Curzio Malaparte (2012) was translated by film editor Walter Murch, who adapted selections of Malaparte’s prose into free verse.

Malaparte died of lung cancer in Rome, and he converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.

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