PEN/Hemingway Award winner Brigid Pasulka’s new nove, The Sun and Other Stars, explores the small, soccer-obsessed town of San Benedetto on the Italian Riviera through the eyes of the local butcher’s sun. Here’s an excerpt.
In the beginning, God created the Azzurri and the Earth. Or at least that’s how Papà used to start the story. 1982. The genesis of all order in the universe, the Alpha with no Omega in sight, the Tigris-and-Euphrates, the Watson-come-here of all years.
And if you’re sitting there scratching your head, trying to figure out what the cazzo happened in 1982, you must’ve been either living under a rock or in America — one and the same when it comes to calcio. And that would not be calcio to you, or even football, but “soccer,” or as most people here say it when they’re trying to speak English, SO-chair, with a little roll on the r and a couple of kilograms of reverence in their voices.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against people who live under rocks, play sports where the clock stops, or otherwise escape, deny, and ignore reality. Believe me, if I could, I’d hide myself under a nice, big rock by the sea, order in a week’s worth of pizza, and shut off my phone. But that is impossibile here, or in-cazz-ibile, as my friend Fede likes to say, because the only way he can expand his vocabulary is by wedging vulgar words into it. In-cazz-ibile to escape, deny, or ignore this fottuto town, this attractive, charming, concentric circle of hell smack in the middle of Liguria, which has conspired to peck at me with a thousand idiotic conversations a day and bury me one obligation at a time.
But. Before the victory of entropy, before the descent into hell, before the Brazilians dominated every calcio field whether it was theirs or not, before the French pilfered the 1998 World Cup one suspicious call at a time, before the shame of the 2000 Euro Championships (this is still Papà telling the story), there was 1982 — a small, glimmering miracle of a year that flared like a match before burning the cazzo out of the fingers that held it. Because not only did the Azzurri win the World Cup that year, the planets also aligned to allow a college art history major from California to meet a butcher’s son from Liguria in the nosebleed seats of Estadio Balaídos in Vigo, Spain, during the first round, a union sanctioned by FIFA and witnessed and consecrated by tens of thousands of half-sober fans.
This excerpt is printed courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
FOR YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE
Don’t stop there. Read the whole thing.
The Sun and Other Stars, by Brigid Pasulka
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