Translated by Adriana Hunter
Some favours simply cannot be refused. Tonio agrees to write a love letter for Dario, a low-rent Paris gigolo. When Dario is murdered, a single bullet to the head, Tonio finds his friend has left him a small vineyard somewhere east of Naples. The wine is undrinkable but an elaborate scam has been set up. The smell of easy money attracts the unwanted attentions of the Mafia and the Vatican, and the unbridled hatred of the locals. Mafiosi aren’t choir boys, and monsignors can be very much like Mafiosi.
'Holy Smoke' is a darkly comic iconoclastic tale told by an author of great verve and humour. It is also an attempt to unearth Benacquista's Italian roots: the small claustrophobic villages of rural Italy, the fathers' war experiences fighting for Mussolini in Albania, and the generous sprinkling of gastronomic titbits. In this story, the author divulges the origin of 'putanesca' sauce, the recipe for the perfect espresso, but above all the metaphysics of pasta. And, as we all know, pasta is a universe in itself....