The Path to the Spiders’ Nests by arguably the best post-World War II Italian writer describes the life of young Pin who, on one hand, wants to be an accepted member of the band of boys his age and, on the other, wants to be treated by the men as an equal. He sneers at other boys for their ignorance of grown-up matters and teases the adults for their nocturnal activities.
The story revolves around a gun that Pin steals from a German soldier who regularly visits his sister. He hides it where the spiders build their nest. From then on thoughts of the gun consume much of his time. He is genuinely worried when Pelle, a member of the group Pin joins, guarantees that he will be able to find it with ease.
Pin is completely at home in the hostile surroundings and survival does not pose a challenge. The author makes sure, though, that this character is not depicted as having extraordinary capabilities or a sense of judgment beyond his years. It is unbelievable how the author develops a plot at once so fantastic and so realistic.
From start to finish, the narration is characterized by utter simplicity, and decorated with often complex humor. One is staggered by its brilliance and it is difficult to find words lavish enough to describe the book.
I suggest this magnificent book to all readers, but especially those who prefer to read a book for its brilliance rather than for the hype surrounding it. I don’t think there are any Hollywood films based on works of Italo Calvino, which is a pity.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.