A group of children use an abandoned shed in the fields near their apartment block as a summer hang-out. Three boys and two ten-year-old girls. Lazily, in the stifling heat, they listen to their REM tapes and explore each other's bodies. Away from parental eyes and in imitation of their older brothers and sisters, they start to take things too far, but it is only when the ringleader and wild card, fourteen-year-old Mirko, introduces the adult world of pornography into their games that irreparable damage is done. This intelligent and deeply disturbing first novel bravely confronts a subject that many shy away from - the sexuality of children. A cause of great controversy when first published in Italy, it will leave no reader indifferent. Like Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden or William Golding's Lord of the Flies, it creates an intense, claustrophobic world where adults are shadowy, absent figures and children play out their own shocking versions of adulthood. Written in a controlled, spare yet beautiful prose, it marks Simona Vinci out as one of Italy's most interesting young writers.
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Three boys and two ten-year-old girls use an abandoned shed in the fields near their homes as a summer hang-out. They explore each other's bodies as children do, but it is only when 14-year-old Mirko introduces the adult world of pornography into their games that irreparable damage is done.Review:
Winner of the Elsa Morante prize, Simona Vinci's first novel, A Game We Play, was a bestseller when published in Italy and has since been translated into eight languages. The controversy that accompanied its translation into English was telling, if predictable (the publisher's comparisons are McEwan's The Cement Garden and Golding's Lord of the Flies). This is the story of five children--three boys (Mirko, the oldest, is 14) and two girls--who play sex games with one another through a long hot summer. It's a "before and after" story that explores how an "innocent" and fumbling sexuality is provoked, and displaced, by something more unsettling, more violent, in the children's ambiguous desires. Vinci is deft in her shifts of perspective between the 10-year-old girls--Martina and Greta--and the boys who are playing with them. Mirko, in particular, is attracted by the fact that Martina does not play, she does not "provoke and then runaway ... Martina was easy to understand. She was a child." A powerful vision of an adolescent's desire for a child, as well as children's desire for one another, A Game We Play is also about the interruption of that desire, the role of an increasingly violent, and paedophilic, pornography--introduced by Mirko--in shaping the games children play: "There were no adults in the frame, but you could feel their presence". This is part of the novel's wager, the enigma on which it touches through the figure of Mirko, in transition between the state of childhood and manhood--a boy who can turn other children into "soldiers of the flesh". Again, the conclusion is predictable, as is Vinci's detached, yet lyrical, style of telling a story which may well seem familiar but has not failed to provoke that sense of shock. -- Vicky Lebeau
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Book Description Vintage, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 99283034