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It resists our efforts to read it on the bus or in bed, to get lost in it, to finish it, as we were taught to do in school; even on an e-reader, it tries our twenty-first-century patience. Very long nonfiction books are typically justified by their subject matter. Not so the very long novel: impractical, gratuitous, it has to justify itself as it goes. The very long novel is even more gratuitous in Italian than it is in Sex.

Jhumpa Lahiri, introducing a new book of Italian short qey, observes that Italian literature has developed around the story, rather than the novel, which retains the feel of an import. In the shadow of Dante and Boccaccio, Italian literature has no domineering elder of the very long novel: no Cervantes, no Richardson or Fielding, no Dumas or Hugo.

A very long Italian novel can seem an act of sex it is certainly an act of imposition. It became a best-seller in its native land, and was awarded the Strega Prize previously given to Bassani, Elsa Morante, Levi, Natalia Ginzburget al. The English translation, done with unflagging vigor by Antony Shugaar, presents readers with a very long novel qey feels even longer than it is.

The effect is surely intended. This may be why Albinati, even as he gestures toward a generational saga, focusses tightly on adolescence. You may find yourself anticipating a work that does for Rome in the seventies what Ferrante has done for postwar Naples, and for male friendship what Knausgaard did for fathers and sons.

But the anticipation is premature, the comparisons misplaced. The brilliant friend Arbus soon drops out of the text. So do the devices that novelists as different as Ferrante and Knausgaard rely on: characters, dialogue, incident, chronology, and, especially, the rendering of everyday life through sex, detail-flecked paraphrase.

For a few hundred pages, nothing much happens. The most dramatic incident Albinati relates from his school days involves some bullies whipping a weaker boy, as in a rite of flagellation. The rape and murder is treated in a dozen unspectacular pages. Two young men who went to school with Albinati abduct two young women after a double date and take them to a vacation house on Monte Circeo, between Rome and Naples; joined by a third young man, they rape the women, kill one of them, wrap them both in plastic, and stuff them in the trunk of a car; then they drive to Rome and park the car overnight in the Quartiere Trieste, where the surviving woman, kicking and screaming sex the trunk, is heard by a neighbor.

A century later, Albinati has fictionalized the crime his classmates committed and elaborated on it in the language of broad-brush cultural criticism. The crime, he writes. Stigmatized in words, the horror became accessible, within reach of one and all. That reflection qey three hundred pages after the account of the crime. In the interim, Albinati the author-narrator holds forth on many topics.

More broadly, he regards this notion of the gratuitous as a key that unlocks the mysteries of contemporary life. It is often characterized by excess, as in acts of cruelty and torture.

It is a very late entry in the long European tradition of the novel as a quasi-philosophical essay in disguise. Mostly, though, he writes as Edoardo Albinati, an author in middle age who is struggling to qey a book.

Weary of fiction, he expounds on whatever is on his mind, and the very long novel becomes a succession of slantwise essays about gender, sex, and power. He paraphrases thinkers from Freud to Judith Butler; he flirts with autofiction, making a record of his reflections through several Easters, as the parish priest, following Italian custom, shows up to bless his apartment divorced, Albinati is back in the old neighborhood and engages with him on the question of whether and what he believes.

The title, like so much else in the book, seems arbitrary. Albinati was never a sex believer, and he stopped going qey Mass in qey early teens.

All the same, Catholicism is a subject he cherishes. For him, as for many fallen-away Catholics, the further he gets from his Catholic upbringing, the more he sex to say about it.

In his own qey, he sees the influence of his education in a double way. Thus Catholic school raised them to be inwardly divided, set against themselves—at once desiring and despising worldly things. That is nothing new. Thinkers from Nietzsche onward have found fault with Christianity for exalting submission. What is new is the twist Albinati gives to the legacy of his schooling. As a boy, he says, he had masochism forced on him through the catechism; as a man, he finds that his education lingers, leading him to view its reciprocal, sadism, as the dark heart of society.

This may be why Albinati the Catholic-school alumnus is fascinated by qey because rape is a brutal rejection of the traditional Catholic teaching that sexual intercourse is meant for the purpose of procreation in marriage and that all other sex is immoral—gratuitous. Or it may be that he is fascinated because rape, in the terms of the novel, is an unmistakable way for a man to overcome the masochistic habit of self-subjugation he acquired at school by sadistically asserting himself.

All that material is far from Catholic school, and that is the point of it. Fifty years after Albinati sex Catholic school in Rome, the combination of countercultural religion and bourgeois morality impressed on him there still overshadows his life more than he likes. So is its extreme length. At the same time, the length suggests how hard it can be for such a man to shed such an upbringing, even in supposedly secular contemporary Italy. The crime, he writes, served at the same time as a warning against the evil detected, but also implicitly instigated others to commit the same crime by the force of a negative example, suggesting that by now the world was contaminated and there could be no respite from corruption and violence.

Innocence was ruined for good. If innocence had ever existed. Recommended Stories. Sign in. Get the best of The New Yorker in your in-box every day. Privacy Sex.

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Jordan and Keegan oscillate between being intrigued and offended when they overhear two white women speculating about what it's like to. The Key to Sex Poster. A low-level assistant to a successful movie producer is given a very special assignment -- watch over the boss' house while he's away. The author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter now turns her focus to the sexual lives of young men,​.