Natura Morta Review

Natura Morta reads well against the seminal Teuton-among-the-Italians novella,Death in Venice, but where Mann’s tale of boy love, death, and discomfiting weather pits the Apollonian against the Dionysian, Winkler’s riposte is complete bacchanal. In Natura Morta, Apollo, if he appears at all, is but a coin smeared with blood, shit, and sweat as soon as it is tendered. The two novellas bear the conversation; Winkler has won an embarrassment of awards and stands almost as tall as his predecessor in countries other than this one.

Winkler has fallen victim to our market’s provincialism regarding literature in translation and we owe tremendous thanks to Adrian West and Contra Mundum Press for bringing the text to such vivid life. Natura Morta deserves hyperbolic praise. It should be studied, passed among friends, argued over, and stolen from shamelessly and thoroughly. Winkler has stripped fiction bare and approached the line that separates composition from reality itself. Delight and horror contest on every page. And what’s more, at the book’s end, after Piccoletto is hit by a fire engine, dies, and is given a funeral, in one short, final paragraph, a story, a symbol, a character, and a theme miraculously emerge. A name, a mere coordinate, becomes a man. And this man, in inconsolable, Orphic grief, wandering aimlessly among weathered tombs with a bouquet of red broom (an object from the very first image in the book), invents a new and ancient narrative by whimpering to no one that can hear: “buona notte, anima mia!” The reader is stricken, as though by the birth of a star.”

Read the full review here: William Emery, The Collagist (October 2014).