“How many secrets hide the people with whom we spend life.”

A quarrel for futile reasons in a couple, the violent gesture of the woman who with an ashtray breaks the incisors teeths of her partner, and a bottomless pit of memories and obsessions and fears and doubts that opens under the feet of our protagonist, now a name toothless.

An “open mouth” journey – if you let us pass the joke – inside and outside the neuroses of an ordinary man and difficult interpersonal problems, starting with jealousy towards his partner, from whom it all began, to the ex-wife, children, to a long string of dentists with whom he comes into contact in order to solve broken teeth in the best possible way.

Economic hardship will force him to rely on dentists of dubious professionalism: each with a different theory on how to proceed in the reconstruction of the teeth, which will have the merit of causing additional pain to the poor victim and a senseless outflow of money, without reaching the resolution of the problem.

The book manages to give a precise and realistic cross-section of Italian society, and of its perennial turning in on itself, with ambiguous characters, dressed in appearance, which push down the general sense of morality.

It is precisely starting from the non-idyllic relationship with a set of teeth outside the normal canons of beauty that our protagonist continues to fall into the trap of childhood: we realize in this way that the question of teeth has always been central in the formation of his personality. and its relationship with the world.

We particularly appreciated the rhythm given to the story, since also the different length of the periods is congenial to the different events experienced by the protagonist; we like to underline this aspect because now – as we are often forced to reiterate – contemporary writing is fundamentally subject, verb and object complement.

We are certainly not the ones who discover the expansive beauty of Starnone’s writing, which indeed we believe to be underestimated; it is a modern style, but at the same time with an eye to the aesthetic beauty of the past; fresh, yet covered with veils of dust like the furniture of an abandoned house. We like his style beyond measure.


Domenico Starnone, Teeth, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1994

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