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Beppe Fenoglio has written possibly the most beautiful and at the same time the saddest novel I have ever read. The language is simple and the story moves along very quickly to an end that promises nothing for the characters Fenoglio has created. They are frighteningly real, frighteningly pathetic. They don't have very much to do with the lives they are leading. They seem like stand-ins for people who were supposed to be there, but gave up early. They work, eat, sleep, and die without much thought or concern about anything except their little dreams that die along with them, unrealized.

Ruin reminds me a little of Hemingway, but more so of Celine's Journey to the End of the Night. There, Celine gives the reader one glimmer of hope when Robinson explodes, revealing all his hopes, ideas, and reservations about the world and his life, only to be gunned down by a jealous jilted lover after he is politely asked if he is finished. In Ruin, no one ever makes any statement about what they want or how they feel; they continue to exist only to die. They wander through their lives, never taking what they want, or doing anything except what they are forced to do. Ruin is a somber, heartfelt, and daunting story of never being able to feel until those feelings no longer matter; isn't that a sad tale. I sincerely hope that the Marlboro Press will bring out more of Fenoglio's work and that readers will take advantage of these fine translations that wouldn't otherwise be available.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sorensen, Jeff
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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