Three Windows Onto Rome

by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Santi Quattro Coronoti On the right wall of the basilica is a fragment of a fresco of San Bartolomeo. He’s a bearded old man, mouth obscured by damage, his eyes suspicious. His own wrinkled pelt is thrown over his shoulder like a traveling cloak. No longer the cheerful dandy, dressed in white with swinging purple tassels. (He took good care of that white tunic; for twenty years, across all those distances, it never showed signs of wear.) No, there on that wall, he lives immortal as he died: flayed bare. The son of the one who holds the waters on

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The Dark Denizens of a Debauched Rome: Niccolo Ammaniti’s ‘Let the Games Begin’

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Let the Games Begin (330 pages; Black Cat/Grove Press) by Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti (and translated by Kylee Doust), is an oversaturated, bordering-on-cartoonish romp founded on a larger-than-life premise. A two-bit Satanic cult based out of Rome, the Wilde Beasts of Abaddon, is desperate to enter the ranks of the truly Evil. Though the Wilde Beasts have multiple instances of viaduct graffiti and a botched orgy/human sacrifice under their belt, a rival cult has recently “disembowelled a fifty-eight-year-old nun…with a double-headed axe.” Thus, their leader, Mantos, a furniture salesman who styles himself the group’s “Charismatic Father,” decides they need to […]

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Adventures in Language School

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Joseph Di Prisco is the author of several books, including novels—the most recent of which is All for Now (MacAdam/Cage)—and two poetry collections. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Prairie Schooner, and The Threepenny Review, and his poetry was published in the Winter 2011 issue of ZYZZYVA.

Two new poems by Di Prisco appear in ZYZZYVA’s Spring/Summer issue: “Symptomatology” and “Adventures in Language School.” Here we present the latter, which is characteristic of the humor and the warmth that imbues Di Prisco’s charming poetry.

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