Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati

Now, how do I explain this one? It’s not my usual sort of book at all. But that’s the thing about loving a publisher – sometimes you’re inspired to buy something quite extraordinary.

Not, you understand, that I have anything against Italian graphic novels from the 1960s!

Poem Strip is a remarkable retelling of the classical tale of Orpheus and Euridyce.

The story opens in Milan:

“On Via Saterna in the old city there’s a house with a large garden that appears to have been abandoned years ago…”

Opposite that house is the home of an old, aristocratic family. Orph, the son of the house, has broken with tradition: he is a wildly successful rock star.

One day as he watches the world going by from his window he sees Eura, the love of his life, enter the the house across the street through a door he has never seen before.

Unthinking, he follows her: Orph enters the underworld. Sex and death hang heavy in the air, and Orph must fight temptation and face his worst fears as he seeks his lost love.

And he would have to sing for his life.

“Death, oh death
Gift of a wise god
All the charms of this world
Come from you
Even love.”

Poem Strip is a wonderful mixture of gothic, pop art, noir and avant garde.

The images are varied and striking; the words are simple but effective.

The overall effect was deeply unsettling and utterly compelling at the same time: I read Poem Strip in a single sitting and it has left a very firm impression.

And I’m quite sure that there are things that I missed, more layers that a second reading might reveal.

A fine addition to the NYRB list.

Translated by Marina Harrs

….. hosted at Coffeespoons and the Literary Stew.

7 responses

  1. This is such a unique review. I had no idea that NYRB had a graphic novel in their list. I love the artwork. This sounds like it would make a lovely present and a wonderful addition to an existing NYRB collection.

    Thanks for joining NYRB Reading Week and I hope you have more reviews coming.

    • Yes, it would make a lovely gift. But be aware that some of the images are a little stronger – in particular there is a lot of female nudity.

      I have another NYRB Classic in progress and I hope to write about it later in the week.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati | Fleur Fisher in her world -- Topsy.com

  3. Given your third image; I see that not everything is translated. How much of the book is untranslated? (Do other drawings include text as a feature of the art?)

  4. That is the only image using text and those are the only words that are untraslated. That doesn’t disturb the flow of the book at all, and I do recommend it.

  5. Oh my, I didn’t know that NYRB published a graphic novel. And an Italian one at that! I love myth retellings, and I do believe I’m going to add this to my to-buy list. Thank you for your review!

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