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Don't Move by Margaret Mazzantini

Don't Move (2002)

by Margaret Mazzantini

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6722221,356 (3.52)1 / 44

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English (8)  Italian (6)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (2)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I am waffling between 3 stars and 4 stars.

When I hear that a book written in first-person, such as [b:The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)|Suzanne Collins|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358275334s/2767052.jpg|2792775], is being made into a movie, I wonder how the filmmakers are going to handle it. The story is entirely from Katniss' perspective, and she is telling it, so some of her voice and vision will inevitably get lost in film. I am willing to bet money that the adaptation of Don't Move is better than the book, because there will be less of the voice of Timoteo!

After his daughter is seriously injured in an accident, Timoteo sits outside her operating room and silently tells her of the affair he had the year before she was born. His confession begins with his car breaking down in a sketchy town, where he meets Italia - tired, poor, and unattractive. Although he has a beautiful wife and a successful career as a surgeon, Timoteo is dissatisfied. Upon meeting Italia, his frustration comes to a head and, um, he rapes her. Um, yeah. Definitely not a meet-cute. Despite this, er, questionable beginning, Timoteo becomes sexually obsessed with Italia, and she with him. He must decide whether to continue his comfortable existence with his wife or experience passion and life with Italia.

That sounds like an excellent movie. I can totally see this working as some kind of modern erotic Italian Neorealist piece. The reason I didn't enjoy the book is because I could not stand Timoteo's self-loathing narration of his brutality, selfishness, and cowardice. I guess it comes down to I would rather watch a weasel than read about a weasel.

PS - I am amused that Margaret Mazzantini dedicated this book to her husband. And then he directed and starred in the film adaptation! That's either really sweet or really twisted. ( )
  doryfish | Mar 6, 2019 |
How do we value a book we read? What makes us feel that this is an excellent one? Is it The story? Maybe it's the Writing? Perhaps The connection between us and the book?

As far as I am concerned, the book has to touch my emotional place. There are books I admire about writing, the beauty of the idea, but I remain detached. And sometimes some books manage to touch me, and it has nothing to do with pleasure.

This one was written by an Italian writer. The story is simple: a father who is a senior surgeon sits outside an operating room in his hospital, a place where his only daughter is diagnosed with a severe accident. And does what we all do while we are in a state of disaster: thinking about his life, trying to understand the logic of what is happening, feeling guilty about the choices he made.

I find it hard to say that I enjoyed reading the book. There are parts in it that I really felt sick when I read them. But the book didn't allow me to stop reading it, and I still think of it sometimes.

The book is compelling, requiring the reader to think about subjects he doesn't always want to think about. Recommends reading it to non-romantic people with an overly sensitive stomach. ( )
  mazalbracha | Jan 12, 2019 |
Il libro è scritto bene ma umanamente parlando mi ha lasciata alquanto perplessa ... nulla da ridire sul dolore devastante che qualsiasi genitorie proverebbe nel vedersi una figlia in fin di vita ma ... quello che non comprendo è per quale motivo narrargli un amore che non è quello per la propria madre fatto prevalentemente di fisicità ? Perplessa e vagamente amareggiata. ( )
  Nasreen44 | Jun 8, 2017 |
this book is (more than) worth reading for the way it's written alone; it's somehow different than anything i've ever read before, and i just love the language.

as to the rest, i'm not sure. i desperately want to understand what she was doing or saying or playing with here, but i know i'm missing it. figuring out her message was what kept me gripped almost from the get-go in this book, and i'm no less curious for having finished reading it.

the title phrase is repeated throughout the book, always (if i noticed them all) at a point where the main character, timoteo, is afraid to move forward. or afraid of what is coming next in his life. afraid, maybe more truly, of who he will be in those next moments, because he can't stop time moving forward, and he has to act, often in ways that show him as a person he doesn't want to be.

timo is both totally honest (is it weird that he discusses sex and his penis the way he does when he is theoretically talking to his daughter, or is it just so not american do to that?) about himself and also completely untruthful. it's in a realistic way, though, so that as he begins recognizing himself for a "monster" he makes excuses and starts to throw the blame for his behavior at the women in his life, giving himself a reprieve. he recognizes this person inside of himself and abhors him, taking this out on the women he is with. he is filled with hate and violence (that he doesn't act on often) of women, and even what he sometimes calls love or passion is wrapped up in his hatred. he denigrates every single woman he encounters (he even throws in a line or two about the awesome nurse just to stay consistent on this score). he confuses his repeated rape of a woman with a love affair. (and it certainly seems like, at least at some point down the line, she does, too. but she also discloses prior victimization, and i know the way these "relationships" work for the person who has no agency. but many readers don't, as i see this reviewed as a love story. ...so much of this book reminds me of lolita.)

the last 2 lines of the book give a clue about where she was going, but it's still not entirely clear to me that i'm reading her correctly. and either way, i'm not sure what the message or point is, but i also know that reading this was an unusual experience (which i very much appreciate) and that i really, really liked the way it was written. i just wish i could talk with someone about it.... ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Apr 12, 2015 |
Don’t move. Stop. Wait. Just stay. Don’t. Move. If you’ve ever felt like this in your life, you know that it’s a terrible feeling. It’s a desperate wish for time to stand still, to stop, so that whatever horrific thing that’s about to happen is delayed, maybe even prevented. But at the same time, you know that time has no mercy, no compassion. It goes, and we go with it. In Margaret Mazzantini’s thought-provoking novel Don’t Move, the main character experiences a few of these moments in which he wishes time would stop, somehow, and give him a chance to change what seems inevitable.

This book was kind of a new experience for me, and that’s saying something because (and I say this with all the humility in the world) I have read a LOT of books. I couldn’t get a grasp on it. Who was the bad guy? What was the message? Was there a message? What began with an admitted rape on the part of Timoteo, the pro(?)tagonist, turns into a sordid affair with the victim(?) who ends up dying of a botched abortion on the day his legitimate daughter is born to his wife, all of which is happening in the past as he sits in the waiting room of a hospital after his kid (the non-aborted, legitimate one) gets in a motorbike accident and has to have emergency brain surgery. Confused? So was I. And although I still can’t figure out if Timoteo is an arrogant bastard who takes advantage of weakness in women or some other kind of monster entirely, the humanity of the characters, their actions and reactions, make this book something to be read, remembered, and passed on.

Maybe I can’t tell you for sure what kind of person Timoteo is, but I can tell you what my instincts tell me about him. They tell me that he is a man who is unsure of himself, who lacks confidence, who maintains a constant battle between his baser instincts and his nobler ones, who projects his weakness onto the women around him, and then takes advantage of them. Elsa, his wife, is a confident, independent, attractive woman who works as a journalist for a moderately-sized paper, and yet at every opportunity, Timoteo makes her smaller, makes her insipid and timid and needy. However, compared to Italia, Timoteo’s lover, Elsa seems a brazen Amazon. Italia is frequently compared to a dog by Timoteo: pathetic, ugly, kicked-around, starved for affection. Although he claims to love her, Timoteo’s descriptions of Italia are often unfeeling, removed, like a scientist viewing a specimen in a petri dish. He describes his relationship with her as follows: “…once I was a livid, barbarous man who raped a woman, a girl grown old before her time. I did it because I loved her right away and I didn’t want to love her; I did it to kill her and I wanted to save her” (149). And again: “Unfortunately because I raped you, unfortunately because I didn’t weep when my father died, unfortunately because I’ve never loved anyone. Unfortunately, Italia, Timoteo is afraid to live” (185). I believe that being weak is human. We are all weak in some way. But when we use our weakness as a weapon, when we use it as a justification for taking advantage of others, we become inhuman. The word monster, in ancient literature, always referred to a human being who through some crime or insult against the gods, was turned into a kind of half animal, half human mutant. Although the gods no longer play such an integral part in our lives, we can still become monsters. The only problem is, we keep our original shapes, and other people can’t always see the monsters inside. Italia, Elsa, and all the other women in Timoteo’s life are fooled by his apparent humanity, and either fail or refuse to see the kind of man, or monster, that he truly is.

Like most cases of rape, like the book I reviewed previously, A Triumph Over Rape, there is the inevitable transferral of guilt from the raper to the rapee. Although he admits the rape to himself, Timoteo never talks to Italia about it, never apologizes, instead using her own rape against her. “Tell her, Timoteo. Tell her now. Tell her to her face, to her dirty mouth, stagnant with her misery. Tell her you’re expecting a legitimate child, the heir to your sterile, cautious life. Tell her she has to have an abortion, because now’s the right time, now when she’s scaring you and you’re thinking, What kind of mother would so desperate a woman make?” (208). In moments of cowardice, instead of admitting his weakness, instead of owning it, he blames everything on Italia’s inadequacy. He can’t bring himself to tell her that he prefers his legitimate child to her bastard, so he convinces himself that she wouldn’t make a very good mother in the first place. Somehow, he convinces himself that through her apparent embracing of her misery, of her lot in life, that somehow she asks for the things that happen to her, including her rape. In truth, Timoteo is afraid and his fear (and weakness!) becomes the justification for all of his actions.

I recommend this book. I don’t recommend it because of its shiny, happy characters and its shiny, happy ending. I recommend it because it troubled and confused me, and I’d like to see what other people think of it. I recommend it because anybody can recognize little pieces of themselves in the characters, however pathetic or detestable they may be. I recommend it because it will make you think, and because it’s not the average book you pick up off a shelf or read because it’s on Oprah’s Book Club. Read it because it’s different, and we all need a little different in our lives, even if the difference isn’t entirely pleasant.

For more book reviews (err... book musings?), including an Italian dinner complete with affogato, visit my blog For Love and Allegory at http://www.forloveandallegory.wordpress.com/ ( )
  stixnstones004 | Jun 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Mazzantiniprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aguilera, LibertadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herber, HenriekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, PetraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raynaud, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385510748, Hardcover)

A rainy day, a slippery street. A skidding car collides with a motor scooter ridden by Angela, a fifteen-year-old girl. Gravely injured, she’s brought to the hospital where her father, Timoteo, is a surgeon. As his daughter lies near death, the handsome, cultivated, eminently respectable Timoteo unpacks a sordid burden of sin and guilt he has long borne in silence.

Fraught with sexual obsession, degradation, and devotion, his confession is the tale of a man who for his whole life has been “afraid to live”—with one passionate exception. Silently addressing Angela, Timoteo bares his soul, and the events of the year before her birth open like a wound.

As Timoteo’s tale begins, he’s driving from the city to the beach house where his beautiful, accomplished wife, Elsa, is waiting for him. Car trouble forces him to make a detour into a dingy suburb, and there he meets Italia—unbeautiful, unpolished, working-class—who awakens a part of him he scarcely recognizes. Disenchanted with his stable life, he seizes the chance to act without consequences, and what ensues is startling and savage. Is it rape? Or something mutual, animal, completely new to him? Returning again and again to Italia’s dim hovel, he finds himself faced with a choice: a life of passion with Italia, or a life of comfort and predictability with Elsa.

“Suddenly, driven by an absurd rebellious impulse, you look for the bones of the man you would have liked to be,” Timoteo explains to his unconscious daughter, as if asking forgiveness for preferring the passionate life he glimpsed so briefly.

In vivid, intense, masterful prose, Margaret Mazzantini has crafted a tale that electrifies from start to finish, drawing us deep down into the darkness of primal passion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

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Called to the hospital when his fifteen-year-old daughter, Angela, is injured in a potentially fatal accident, a prominent surgeon sits and waits, silently confessing the affair he had the year Angela was born. As Timoteo{u2019}s tale begins, he{u2019}s driving to the beach house where his beautiful, accomplished wife, Elsa, is waiting. Car trouble forces him to make a detour into a dingy suburb, where he meets Italiaunattractive, unpolished, working-classwho awakens a part of him he scarcely recognizes. Disenchanted with his stable life, he seizes the chance to act without consequences, and their savage first encounter spirals into an inexplicable obsession. Returning again and again to Italia{u2019}s dim hovel, he finds himself faced with a choice: a life of passion with Italia, or a life of comfort and predictability with Elsa. As Angela's life hangs in the balance, Timoteo's own life flashes before his eyes, this time seen through the lens of the one time he truly lived.… (more)

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