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The Street Kids is the most important novel by Italy's preeminent late-20th Century author and intellectual, Pier Paolo Pasolini. A powerful, groundbreaking contemporary classic, The Street Kids is now available in a new translation by Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels.  Pasolini's The Street Kids was heavily censored, criticized by professiona The Street Kids is the most important novel by Italy's preeminent late-20th Century author and intellectual, Pier Paolo Pasolini. A powerful, groundbreaking contemporary classic, The Street Kids is now available in a new translation by Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels.  Pasolini's The Street Kids was heavily censored, criticized by professional critics, and lambasted by much of the general public upon its publication. But like many innovative works of art its undeniable force eventually led to it being universally acknowledged as a masterpiece. It is a moving tribute to an entire class of people in danger of being forgotten by art, by institutions, and by society at large.  The Street Kids tells the story of Riccetto, a poor urchin who lives on the outskirts of Rome. Readers meet him at his first communion in 1944 during the German occupation of Italy. In the years that follow, drifting ever further from family and friends, Riccetto moves from petty theft to more elaborate cons and finally to prostitution. He is arrested and jailed after trying to steal some iron in order to buy his fiancée an engagemnet ring.  Pasolini's message of rebellion and transgression is as important today as it was in the 1960s and 1970s.


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The Street Kids is the most important novel by Italy's preeminent late-20th Century author and intellectual, Pier Paolo Pasolini. A powerful, groundbreaking contemporary classic, The Street Kids is now available in a new translation by Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels.  Pasolini's The Street Kids was heavily censored, criticized by professiona The Street Kids is the most important novel by Italy's preeminent late-20th Century author and intellectual, Pier Paolo Pasolini. A powerful, groundbreaking contemporary classic, The Street Kids is now available in a new translation by Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels.  Pasolini's The Street Kids was heavily censored, criticized by professional critics, and lambasted by much of the general public upon its publication. But like many innovative works of art its undeniable force eventually led to it being universally acknowledged as a masterpiece. It is a moving tribute to an entire class of people in danger of being forgotten by art, by institutions, and by society at large.  The Street Kids tells the story of Riccetto, a poor urchin who lives on the outskirts of Rome. Readers meet him at his first communion in 1944 during the German occupation of Italy. In the years that follow, drifting ever further from family and friends, Riccetto moves from petty theft to more elaborate cons and finally to prostitution. He is arrested and jailed after trying to steal some iron in order to buy his fiancée an engagemnet ring.  Pasolini's message of rebellion and transgression is as important today as it was in the 1960s and 1970s.

30 review for The Street Kids

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simona B

    "A Pietralata, per educazione, non c’era nessuno che provasse pietà per i vivi, figurarsi cosa c... provavano per i morti." (I wasn't able to find a translation for the quote above, and I apologize. It says something like, "In Pietralata, it was a matter of education to not take pity on the living, let alone on the f... dead." I apologize for the poor outcome of my attempt too.) This is so a not-my-cup-of-tea situation, I am seriously wondering whether that phrase was invented solely to fit the ev "A Pietralata, per educazione, non c’era nessuno che provasse pietà per i vivi, figurarsi cosa c... provavano per i morti." (I wasn't able to find a translation for the quote above, and I apologize. It says something like, "In Pietralata, it was a matter of education to not take pity on the living, let alone on the f... dead." I apologize for the poor outcome of my attempt too.) This is so a not-my-cup-of-tea situation, I am seriously wondering whether that phrase was invented solely to fit the eventuality of me reading this book. Probably, it was. My main problem with Ragazzi di vita was that I wasn't capable, for the life of me, to tune in on the writing. Call it shallowness, if you will, but form, to me, is pivotal. With this, I'm not saying that the book is badly written; I'm saying it was not written for me. I am, to make it clear, fond (madly so) of 19th-century literature: fluid and full and harmonious where Pasolini, in the next century, is fragmented and messy and matter-of-fact. It was the perfect, probably the only, way to write this story, but I found it insufferable. So, yes. Not my cup of tea.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    My first experience of Pasolini was many years ago when I happened to by complete chance catch his most notorious film 'Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), which sickened and disgusted me so much I had to immediately go for a long shower to try and flush the memory of it down the plug hole...it didn't work and stayed with me, but my thoughts over time changed from the film to Pasolini himself, who is this Guy?, I wanted to know more, my first discovery was that he was also a poet and novelist My first experience of Pasolini was many years ago when I happened to by complete chance catch his most notorious film 'Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), which sickened and disgusted me so much I had to immediately go for a long shower to try and flush the memory of it down the plug hole...it didn't work and stayed with me, but my thoughts over time changed from the film to Pasolini himself, who is this Guy?, I wanted to know more, my first discovery was that he was also a poet and novelist and murdered shortly after the release of Salo, secondly I found out he was an out spoken homosexual and self- declared Communist who upset a lot people including his own government, I started to go through his back catalogue and found each film got better the further back in time they went until I reached his first full length film 'Accattone' (1961) which I regard as his masterpiece where he developed his own brand of neo-realism. 'The Ragazzi' first published in 1955 is based on the events in this film and tells of the poverty people faced in the slums on the outskirts of Rome, it's a case of desperate times, desperate measures and petty crime, prostitution and death are the order of the day, sounds grim?...it is, but it's also tender and all to realistic, the writing is far from great but it's the subject matter that holds firm. I have since declared 'Salo' an important film, as for Pasolini, he was a genius.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Is it possible for a book to be just too grim and depressing? That is the question I was asking myself after finishing reading this sombre tale about young males trying to survive in dismal condition. Set predominantly in Rome after the end of WWII, we get to see an Italy far away from what most would want to acknowledge, with slums, piles of garbage everywhere, black market deals, hunger, and violence. Amongst this chaotic reality, Riccetto and his friends do their best to make something for th Is it possible for a book to be just too grim and depressing? That is the question I was asking myself after finishing reading this sombre tale about young males trying to survive in dismal condition. Set predominantly in Rome after the end of WWII, we get to see an Italy far away from what most would want to acknowledge, with slums, piles of garbage everywhere, black market deals, hunger, and violence. Amongst this chaotic reality, Riccetto and his friends do their best to make something for themselves only to have themselves swallowed up be their surroundings. Inevitably Riccetto will become more and more estranged from his family as crime takes a grip on him, with petty theft, violence, and prostitution becoming a part of his daily routine. Despite the bleakness of everyday life he and his friends will hold on to an almost naive hope for improvements in their life. This was a story that I could only digest in small doses. The main reason for this being that the lives of the characters were just so dire and unfortunate. Don't get me wrong, the writing was exquisite and full of emotion with only subtle hints of Didacticism. Sadly though that was not enough for as much as I tried, I just could not get into the narrative that at its heart is a wonderful snapshot of history but had little more to offer.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Pasolini describes life from the point of view of young boys living in Rome in the years immediately following WWII. This is the grim side of Italy: garbage, black market deals, hunger, and ever-present violence. Despite this, the 'ragazzi' have an almost innocent hope for life that seems to contradict their surroundings. I have to take this book in small doses, not just because I go slowly reading Italian, but because the lives it recounts are so tragic. But it's pretty amazing storytelling. It Pasolini describes life from the point of view of young boys living in Rome in the years immediately following WWII. This is the grim side of Italy: garbage, black market deals, hunger, and ever-present violence. Despite this, the 'ragazzi' have an almost innocent hope for life that seems to contradict their surroundings. I have to take this book in small doses, not just because I go slowly reading Italian, but because the lives it recounts are so tragic. But it's pretty amazing storytelling. It reminds me of Hemingway's style in English: detached and journalistic but with emotion and life under it all.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    This the story of Riccetto, a poor urchin who lives in Rome's “working-class suburbs”, a post-war slum, from his first communion in 1944 as the Germans occupy the country. Instead of thriving after the war years Ricetto drifts from family and friends, moving from petty theft to more elaborate scams and finally to prostitution. He is arrested and jailed after a theft in order to buy his fiancée an engagement ring; the last quarter of the novel taking place after his release 3 years later, at 16 y This the story of Riccetto, a poor urchin who lives in Rome's “working-class suburbs”, a post-war slum, from his first communion in 1944 as the Germans occupy the country. Instead of thriving after the war years Ricetto drifts from family and friends, moving from petty theft to more elaborate scams and finally to prostitution. He is arrested and jailed after a theft in order to buy his fiancée an engagement ring; the last quarter of the novel taking place after his release 3 years later, at 16 years old. Pasolini, primarily a film director, had a mission to bring attention to life in these partially constructed, mainly dilapidated wastelands. He felt that previously any portrayal of them had lacked authenticity. He was a controversial character; he had lived in such a place himself in 1949 in disgrace after being convicted of offences against minors, though the charge was later overturned. His cast are a savage band of adolescents living by wits, scavenging, pawning and stealing, even from each other. The accepted support networks of family, Church, and State, are notably absent. Ricetto takes centre stage, though not always, other characters between the ages of 10 and 17 come to the fore at times. In common to all though, is the offer and subsequent rejection of any sense of morality as the boys leave innocence behind. Though heavily censored, and lambasted by critics and the large part of its readership on its original publication in 1955, one gets the feeling that the translation, the most recent in 2016 (Ann Goldstein), doesn't depict the boys' lives as brutal as they were in the original. The title of the new translation gives a Dickensian image of street urchins, with the occasional redeeming quality; whereas the 2007 translation used The Ragazzi as its title, which as I understand it, means Rent Boys, and though arguably too frank, is more appropriate. This is after all a story of descent into prostitution. Pasolini explored the world of these ragazzi widely, and across Italy. It was how the obscenity charges against him arose, and indeed led to his dubious and violent death in 1975, by the hand of one such ragazzo. Whatever, this a fascinating and engrossing novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt Micucci

    I have never read a coming of age novel with such immediacy and such little time for compassion. What makes Pasolini's excellent Ragazzi di Vita so powerful is precisely the non judgmental, quick paced way in which he recounts the day to day lives of these kids living a life in neglect and poverty among the ruins of the outskirts of town. An earthly and physical experience. I have never read a coming of age novel with such immediacy and such little time for compassion. What makes Pasolini's excellent Ragazzi di Vita so powerful is precisely the non judgmental, quick paced way in which he recounts the day to day lives of these kids living a life in neglect and poverty among the ruins of the outskirts of town. An earthly and physical experience.

  7. 4 out of 5

    solitaryfossil

    Really more of a string of connected vignettes than a novel, I was numb and bored by page 50. Again and again the poverty, the hopelessness and downright cruel meanness of the characters lives was like being beaten with a filthy pipe. Strangely, the descriptions could be by turns beautiful and touching, but the repetition was too much. This book just didn’t click with me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nishant

    The Ragazzi, or "the boys" in Italian, from the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, is the story of a bunch of boys in post-war Rome. They're poor, they're hoodlums and petty thieves. They steal, cheat, and screw prostitutes. Pasolini, quite like a director, observes, but then strangely he doesn't observe. He writes great descriptions, for example, of the expressions on people's faces, but seems incapable of describing emotions, or places. (The book is set in Rome and the boys roam all over it The Ragazzi, or "the boys" in Italian, from the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, is the story of a bunch of boys in post-war Rome. They're poor, they're hoodlums and petty thieves. They steal, cheat, and screw prostitutes. Pasolini, quite like a director, observes, but then strangely he doesn't observe. He writes great descriptions, for example, of the expressions on people's faces, but seems incapable of describing emotions, or places. (The book is set in Rome and the boys roam all over it -- the names of all kinds of neighborhoods and districts are littered on every page -- but not one word is written to describe those neighborhoods or how one differed from the other. I've never been to Rome, and perhaps there is nothing to distinguish one neighborhood from the other or no great character to the city, but somehow I have a hard time believing it. So, I know they are in Rome, but I have no sense of what Rome actually looked like then.) Another flaw in Pasolini's writing is that he also perhaps judges a tad too quickly. The boys are "mean", "evil", "dull-eyed" (the list is long). But not only are their crimes, on the face of it, petty, but he simply refuses to develop his characters; perhaps a deliberate ploy to preclude the reader from developing any sympathy for them, but with no character development, the people on the page do not exist as real people or seem to exhibit any real emotions. What you're left with is no character development, and to pile it all up, also no plot and no narrative... just vignettes from the lives of these boys as they're growing up. Vignettes that skip whole years in the life of the main character, a "ruffian" called Riccetto, and paint yet another picture of lazy afternoons spent swimming in the Tiber, of stealing, whoring, etc, but then little more. And all of this happens in some sort-of vacuum as well -- nothing is mentioned about the times or what is going on in Rome or Italy at that particular time, or how post-war Rome changed over the years, or how Italy's ever-turbulent politics shaped it or the catholic church or any other social dynamic, which the reader would have no way of knowing through Pasolini's writing. All in all, disappointing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    It's quite a rare thing to find somebody who has a talent in one form of art being able to transfer it to another medium but when it does happen you're almost certain to find that they transfer the content or the message from one to the other. This is definitely the case with Pasolini, he early novels influencing the style and content of his movies which are then referred back to in his later books. As another review mentions, his style is certainly reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway in the way he m It's quite a rare thing to find somebody who has a talent in one form of art being able to transfer it to another medium but when it does happen you're almost certain to find that they transfer the content or the message from one to the other. This is definitely the case with Pasolini, he early novels influencing the style and content of his movies which are then referred back to in his later books. As another review mentions, his style is certainly reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway in the way he manages to access the everyday life of post-war Rome, following the coming of age of several youths on the wrong side of the law in a series of vignettes, but beyond that I have struggled to find anything to get worked up by. I didn't particularly enjoy reading this novel and sort of wish I hadn't bothered; the historical value of his first hand experiences in this particular place at this particular time in world history is huge and very interesting but beyond that there was very little of entertainment value. As I always point out when reviewing a novel, the purpose is always to entertain, whether it is educational or important if a book is written well it should also entertain on some level. This didn't do it for me and as such I think it will be a very long time (if at all) before I read the other Pasolini novel I picked up at the same time as this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I struggled to get into this book, finding the characters alien and the language almost impenetrable, but was glad I persisted. Pasolini wanted to relate events and people as he had experienced them in his sojourn in Rome in the early 1950s and the rough language and the petty criminal activities carried out do give a shock of realism to the story which would be difficult to achieve in any other way. The narrative style reveals a deep sympathy with the characters and helps to explain the nature I struggled to get into this book, finding the characters alien and the language almost impenetrable, but was glad I persisted. Pasolini wanted to relate events and people as he had experienced them in his sojourn in Rome in the early 1950s and the rough language and the petty criminal activities carried out do give a shock of realism to the story which would be difficult to achieve in any other way. The narrative style reveals a deep sympathy with the characters and helps to explain the nature of the desperation and poverty which drives them to act as they do. Indeed, in addition to the obscenity for which Pasolini was unsuccessfully prosecuted on the appearance of this book, his sympathy with the underclass and mistrust of bourgeois values , as represented by the evolution of Riccetto, underline the revolutionary nature of his thought at the time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Since today is Pasolini's birthday I'll talk about The Street Kids, a loose collection of WWII vignettes that remind me of a spaghetti Charles Dickens. The stories generally ramble a lot with teenage boys robbing hookers and spending the loot on shitty dinners and crummy swimming pools. A lot of the stories go nowhere at all, and Pasolini is quite fond of describing every area in agonizing detail, like a drunk contractor. More specifically, when he writes for the screen, ie. Bertolucci’s Grim Re Since today is Pasolini's birthday I'll talk about The Street Kids, a loose collection of WWII vignettes that remind me of a spaghetti Charles Dickens. The stories generally ramble a lot with teenage boys robbing hookers and spending the loot on shitty dinners and crummy swimming pools. A lot of the stories go nowhere at all, and Pasolini is quite fond of describing every area in agonizing detail, like a drunk contractor. More specifically, when he writes for the screen, ie. Bertolucci’s Grim Reaper, he has enormous power. With that being said, it doesn’t work as well on the written page. But it’s fine with me. I'll go back to watching Oedipus Rex, now that's a great movie.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    A very cool book but very expensive paperback - nevertheless it's a classic book of Roman youth doing what they do best. Read the book to get the flip side of "8 1/2" - the gritty aspect of Rome life. A very cool book but very expensive paperback - nevertheless it's a classic book of Roman youth doing what they do best. Read the book to get the flip side of "8 1/2" - the gritty aspect of Rome life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Lang

    At some point in every boy’s life he becomes a man. It’s generally not a pleasant transition. Pier Paolo Pasolini describes the journey of a bunch of kids, for the most unemotionally and non-judgmentally, although in one chapter he refers to Tolstoy’s ‘the people are a wild savage in the midst of society’. The story begins in post-war Rome, in the late 1940’s, and these kids seem to be the collateral damage of Italy’s recovery from Mussolini, war, occupation by the Germans, the sense of defeat o At some point in every boy’s life he becomes a man. It’s generally not a pleasant transition. Pier Paolo Pasolini describes the journey of a bunch of kids, for the most unemotionally and non-judgmentally, although in one chapter he refers to Tolstoy’s ‘the people are a wild savage in the midst of society’. The story begins in post-war Rome, in the late 1940’s, and these kids seem to be the collateral damage of Italy’s recovery from Mussolini, war, occupation by the Germans, the sense of defeat on all fronts and all-embracing poverty. It’s not just the poverty one feels in reading Pasolini’s work (which he explicitly has a key character acknowledge with some dismay ‘fuck poverty, fuck it’ well into the book) but the aimlessness and shallowness of these lost lives. This is Rome of the great Roman Empire and in the word that Pasolini uses at least twice it’s become a ‘Shanghai’ of drunkenness and wife-beating husbands, of ‘whores and faggots’, of soul crushing living conditions, of mothers beyond despair. Pasolini has us sense that there is a life out there, of ugly fat wealthy ladies, of power-hungry politicians but that these kids and their families live well outside the perimeter of “Piazza San Pietro” and the lucky people that inhabit the Piazza and well outside all that is holy and decent. Pasolini died at 53, an enemy of the Italian state I am sure - prominent leftists were often attacked or killed by neo-fascists working with the secret services - only to be posthumously recognized as a great writer. He fled to Rome from Northern Italy – from a town bordering on Slovenia and the Adriatic, with his mother, in the 1950’s, after what seemed a scandal involving ‘three boys’ and published The Street Kids in 1955 under the title ‘Ragazzi di vita’ (hustlers) soon after and when he was 33. The book was republished only 33 years later in 1988, well after his death in 1975. In reading Street Kids I was reminded of the advice: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer: when your friends (and enemies) are in your circle of love it’s hard for them to raise a voice of protest, to say for example, that what you are doing is wrong. But being marginalized, even impoverished or in the 1950’s for being homosexual (and perhaps, alas, a pedophile), certainly leaves one outside those bonds and one can say what sometimes needs to be said. I got the sense that Pasolini was in that outer lonely circle and that what he saw of the post-war living conditions on moving to Rome appalled him. Because we live now in the Brexit world and Trump era The Street Kids seems a significant book in the sense that these two movements have, like this book, given voice to the voiceless. If I have for example a criticism of my country, Canada, is that we love too much, are too tolerant, are too embracing, and therefore are quite ironically effectively silenced because we feel we can’t rock the boat, aren’t permitted to say what’s really on our minds. For example our presumably free Press rarely publishes the views of one of this country’s prominent politicians, Elizabeth May, because her stance on the environment, on the economy, on poverty, on childcare is too beyond the mainstream: it’s frankly upsetting and hurts our quite liberal sensitivities – we have after all a Prime Minister who cries at public funerals – and hurts the image we maintain of ourselves. This love helps us to, for example, ignore the 20% of our own kids who live well below the poverty line. Pasolini’s world view is described as part Love (sex, its allure, was everywhere in Street Kids, but then again these albeit poor were afterall teenaged boys; part Marxist; and, part Catholic. One of the Catholic Popes (Benedict 16th) in a 2005) commented on the role of charity and the Marxist view that ‘the poor do not need charity but justice (because) works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and (use it) as a means of soothing their consciences while preserving their own status, of maintaining the status quo and robbing the poor of their rights. We need instead to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity’. As Jyette Jensen, curator of MOMA said of Pasolini in her 2013 retrospective of him: he was always searching, completely open to new ways of looking at things’. I am sure with Street Kids Pasolini upset a lot of people but he may have been Italy’s Trump / Brexit moment, although it only bore fruit in the late 80’s well after his death. Pier Paolo made The Gospel of St. Matthew after attending a seminar at a Franciscan monastery in Assisi: although an atheist, a Marxist and homosexual, he had nonetheless received an invitation in 1962 after Pope John XXIII called for a new dialogue with non-Catholic artists - Pasolini dedicated the film "to the beloved, joyous, familiar memory’ of this Pope, a man he admired for his principles and for leading the Church into the 20th Century. The Catholic Church (although belatedly – it initially had Pasolini arrested on blasphemy) recognizes the film as a faithful depiction of Jesus. The Catholic Church has historically had trouble with its saints, especially those like Pasolini not in alignment with mainstream Catholic orthodoxy but a pauperist, which finds that even Christ and the Virgin depicted as lowlifes as quite plausible. Riccetto – the name apparently symbolic of Rome as a ‘refuge’ and a key character is Street Kids – whose real name is, we learn late in the book, Claudio Mastracca, is no Christ but I suspect he is someone with whom a Christ would have dinner with, maybe even call as a disciple. The book is such that it makes one take sides: if one understands and perhaps resonates with Pasolini’s worldview, then probably Pope Francis’ Laudato Si might resonate too, given Pasolini’s opinion that ‘the Church could be the guide of all those who refuse the new power of consumption’, or, alternately if it doesn’t then that Pier Paolo Pasolini was indeed murdered by a ‘rent boy’ might seem reasonable too. Edwin

  14. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    A strange novel, which has a sort of chaos as the plot. Not sure who the main characters were, or what happened to them or how old they were. Story lines are developed and then dropped, unresolved. Characters appear and disappear. There is much discussion about money, and travelling here and there. Boys swim and smoke and steal. Perhaps, as a work of art, this strange volume approaches a depiction of "real life" in some of the poorer desperate neighborhoods of post-war Rome. Which raises an inte A strange novel, which has a sort of chaos as the plot. Not sure who the main characters were, or what happened to them or how old they were. Story lines are developed and then dropped, unresolved. Characters appear and disappear. There is much discussion about money, and travelling here and there. Boys swim and smoke and steal. Perhaps, as a work of art, this strange volume approaches a depiction of "real life" in some of the poorer desperate neighborhoods of post-war Rome. Which raises an interesting point: does "real life" make "real art"? Or is it just too messy and incomprehensible? 2019 update. Every time I watch the extras on a Criterion collection Pasolini movie, I decide I must read his books. It just happened again, and I’d forgotten having already read this one. Upon reading this chaotic novel a second time I was able to sense more of a plot. The turmoil itself is the setting — the brutal aftermath of war. What else have these boys known in their short lives? There are no heroes in this text and yet somehow the surging life force has some beauty. It is a strange, bleak, relentless novel and very much a product of post-war Italy, with all its contradictions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tiny

    I have a masters in Italian Literature and I came across this book in my studies. It was fantastic and is easily in my top 3 of personal favorites of all time. A truly great book creates an emotional roller coaster for the reader and Pasolini accomplishes that in spades. This book is at times tragic and will pull on your heart, other times it's shocking and vulgar and will have you asking yourself "Did that just happen?" The genius of Pasolini's writing however comes from the underlying comedic I have a masters in Italian Literature and I came across this book in my studies. It was fantastic and is easily in my top 3 of personal favorites of all time. A truly great book creates an emotional roller coaster for the reader and Pasolini accomplishes that in spades. This book is at times tragic and will pull on your heart, other times it's shocking and vulgar and will have you asking yourself "Did that just happen?" The genius of Pasolini's writing however comes from the underlying comedic element to the book that is created by the "ragazzi" and their various forms of mischief. Despite the ever-present harshness of the poverty stricken Roman ghetto that is the backdrop to the novel, there were moments where the novel had me in stitches. The only negative to this book is the translation. Although the (only) English translation isn't the best and is initially hard to get past, you will find yourself adapting to it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ernie

    With Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels fresh in my mind, the same translator retrieves this masterpiece to take me from Naples to the similar grot and corruption of the postwar years in Rome. However, here, for most of the novel I am in the outer suburbs amid the garbage lying uncollected in the streets, the decaying older buildings with whole families sharing a room and no toilet or bathroom and the unfinished fascist promises of public housing, recommenced around election times and abandoned With Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels fresh in my mind, the same translator retrieves this masterpiece to take me from Naples to the similar grot and corruption of the postwar years in Rome. However, here, for most of the novel I am in the outer suburbs amid the garbage lying uncollected in the streets, the decaying older buildings with whole families sharing a room and no toilet or bathroom and the unfinished fascist promises of public housing, recommenced around election times and abandoned soon after. Ferrante must have read this and so must the other great neorealist colleagues of Pasolini such as De Sica and Fellini who made the archetypal films of that period. As my interest in film began in those times, I see this novel in black and white. It is filled with street names, especially Via Tiburtina and images of the boys clinging to the bumper bars of the ancient rickety trams to avoid paying the fare that they could not afford. For the bus, this wasn't an option, so long walks late at night were frequent. The various scenes are linked by the character of Ricetto whom I see from years 14 to 19 but in no ways is this a typical rites of passage story as there are many other adolescent and younger characters who move in and out of the narrative. Ricetto is the despair of his mother who, in the infrequent times that she sees him, rages against his lack of a job and how he is still in the house without contributing a single lire. His father, a violent alcoholic is a terrible reminder of what Ricetto might become. At first I see the groups of boys (they are not organised in gangs and come together almost coincidentally like drifters in an insult relationship) stealing a pushcart to collect stolen machine parts to sell as scrap metal to the corrupt dealer. This is a better deal than their usual garbage collection. “They were all ragged and dirty with a layer of dust and sweat on their faces, but their hair was neatly combed, as if they'd just come from the hairdresser.” They mostly affect to smoke the cigarette butts that they collect from the footpaths and gutters and pose with the fag ends precariously stuck to their bottom lips. They save and steal money to buy fashionable clothes which are, in turn, stolen. They swagger and tease each other and are merciless with their younger hangers-on because they remember how their older brothers and their friends treated them at that age. Saving enough money to buy an ancient whore is one of their major preoccupations but money once made is soon lost to either hunger or theft. The first four chapters culminate in a wonderfully filmic description of the boys attending a funeral, looking on from the sidelines like almost adults and finding it “incredibly boring”. “As their gazes met …in all that funeral silence, they felt like laughing, and averted their eyes, straining the muscles of their necks in order to contain themselves and not make a bad impression”. In the hot summer nights, they stay out late and often sleep in abandoned rooms, porches or seek some shelter in the abandoned farming fields where the new suburbs are encroaching. Other times they have impossible ambitions to seduce middle class girls in the Villa Borghese gardens and in one farcical interlude, they strip down to their underpants and climb up to belly flop into the fountain. An older Ricetto feels nostalgic so he assists some younger boys to find a safe place to take an old homosexual for cheap sex. The final chapters build in power as the nineteen year old, feeling avuncular, observes the younger boys swimming in the filth of the river Aniene as an older naked man washes and he recalls his younger days there that were described early in the novel. He warns the boys that the carabinieri are coming for them and the novel ends with tragic inevitability.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marci Miller

    I bought this book about 8 or 9 years ago. I had tried reading it twice but I couldn't go beyond the first chapter. I thought the writing was odd, I didn't know if because of the translation or because of Pasolini's style - I ended up assuming he wasn't a good writer. I took the book from my shelf again earlier this year and I was about to give up for a third time, but persisted, and after finishing the second chapter I got hooked. The style is indeed not for everyone and, again, I cannot say how I bought this book about 8 or 9 years ago. I had tried reading it twice but I couldn't go beyond the first chapter. I thought the writing was odd, I didn't know if because of the translation or because of Pasolini's style - I ended up assuming he wasn't a good writer. I took the book from my shelf again earlier this year and I was about to give up for a third time, but persisted, and after finishing the second chapter I got hooked. The style is indeed not for everyone and, again, I cannot say how much of that is due to the translation (I suspect at least a little bit) and how much is that quite simply down to the fact that Pasolini doesn't possess the finest narrative technique. The writing is very dry, unemotional, and descriptive almost in a mechanical, archaic fashion. However, the value of the book is the fresco of the society the book focuses on- the lives of a bunch of teenagers growing in the poverty of post Second World War Rome. Each chapter tells us a little story about these kids growing up in life, who are almost reluctantly looking both for its basics such as food, but also for its entertainment. These chapters often have bleak ends. It could be said the book lacks a proper story line; yes there are some characters that keep appearing throughout the chapters of the book but there is not suspense or real drama. The value of the book and what really made me get into it and makes it a very enjoyable reading (a slow and attentive one) is as a historical testimony of what Rome's slums in the 1940s and 1950s must have been like, so I can understand -almost see- how the the young and poor lived - and died- their worthless lives.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Realini

    Ragazzi aka The Street Kids aka The Hustlers by Pier Paolo Pasolini Seven out of 10 on a personal note and maybe 10 out of 10 on an objective assessment Pier Paolo Pasolini has been one of the most acclaimed film makers, directors and screenwriters, nominated for the Palme d’Or twice and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, which is the most prestigious film festival…he is the one who gave us, as writer, The Decameron, Oedipus Rex, Nights of Cabiria and he is the author of The Street kids, wh Ragazzi aka The Street Kids aka The Hustlers by Pier Paolo Pasolini Seven out of 10 on a personal note and maybe 10 out of 10 on an objective assessment Pier Paolo Pasolini has been one of the most acclaimed film makers, directors and screenwriters, nominated for the Palme d’Or twice and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, which is the most prestigious film festival…he is the one who gave us, as writer, The Decameron, Oedipus Rex, Nights of Cabiria and he is the author of The Street kids, which is included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... in the State of Nation section… Alas, the under signed – for ‘this reader’ might be pretentious, given that this narrative has not been read, just rushed through and even that, just to somewhere close to the middle of it – has not found enough energy, intellectual curiosity, love of learning, ability to concentrate, equanimity, capacity to detach and get Far From the Maddening Crowd to learn the stories of The Hustlers, sympathize with their plight and show empathy for the misery they had to live in, right after the end of World War II in Italy. Therefore, a spoiler alert is not needed for the usual reason, that the amateur writer of reviews will not be able to prevent himself from sharing his views on the ending, of various occurrences that would spoil the pleasure for others – assuming that the others are foolish enough to read notes from unqualified strangers, instead of using pertinent, serious, rewarding sources and looking for professional critics…by the way, yours truly finds it mesmerizing to click the metascore link on https://www.imdb.com/ for movies, where even if the motion picture is a failure, the critics of Variety, The New York Times and others have lines that offer exquisite, exhilarating pleasure – but because it will have little to do with Ragazzi. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ said Margaret Wolfe Hungerford and it is also important to know that the work, if it is one of art, or just simple masonry, a car, or something else, is reflected differently and we can say a lot about the reader, the one who listens a music concert from his reaction…an example comes to mind, from a film I have just seen, wherein a German woman takes her husband – they have married just because he needs a German passport, albeit much like in Green Card, with Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell http://realini.blogspot.com/2018/10/g... they might end up loving each other – to a concert of classical music and a musician observes with arrogance that the husband is wearing headphones, which should indicate he was ready to ignore the live music and listen to something else… It has been said that this novel recalls the neo realism of Italian cinema – La Strada comes to mind http://realini.blogspot.com/2020/07/9... - and it is considered that Pier Paolo Pasolini has pushed realism even further, with his own brand of hyperrealism…, which could be reason number one for pausing. It is silly to avoid books because the subject is tragic, gloomy, unhappy or pessimistic…if that were the reading strategy, then Crime and Punishment, War and Peace and all the magnum opera, the literary heritage of the world, or the vast majority of it would just be placed aside… However, it also depends on the period, the external conditions and if one has to survive through a pandemic, worry about where the money will be coming from – especially when endowed with relatives, perhaps a spouse that does not care about tomorrow and is permanently dissatisfied with the financials provided – or not – see that over seventy million deplorables live in the US of Erica and they have just voted – again – with their cult leader, the very stable genius, then it may make sense to try and find something more cheerful than the reality outside. On the other hand of course, engaging with the Ragazzi, the boys that have to do all they can to live until tomorrow, after the catastrophic World War II, would offer artistic, lite array, moral satisfaction and not least, the possibility to become more optimistic and happier….how, well, one suggested method of increasing your wellbeing is to either avoid comparing with others, or if need be, to think of those who are much less fortunate, like the heroes of The Hustlers, who steal from one poor blind man at one point, early in the story. H. L. Mencken once defined a wealthy man as one who earns $100 a year more than his wife's sister's husband’ and thus we can contemplate the miserable, hard, pathetic life of destitution, with episodes of vicious violence, such as the burning of some whores – we should use sex workers today, but the author used whores in the book – and see that by comparison, what we go through, uncertain, perilous as it is seems Paradise on earth, set aside what the protagonists of Ragazzi di vita have to go through. The under signed does not have the needed thirst, inclination, love of reading that is required to go through with something that he does not absolutely enjoys – it is true that he is not required to finish any opus, it is all for pleasure – and with the American elections in the background, the massive disappointment involved – yes, about twelve hours ago, Biden has become president elect, Alhamdulillah, but so late, with such huge support for the very stable genius – and by the way, how was it even possible to have such an idiot at the top of the free world – and for his goons in that outfit that has become a cult for the Chosen One, a group without morality, values, respect for the truth, believing absurdities like the Qanon conspiracy lunacy – there was little attention to be given to Ragazzi di Vita, alas.

  19. 5 out of 5

    ALEARDO ZANGHELLINI

    Abject poverty may breed ruthlessness, but it is the comfortable life that blinds you to injustice, and dulls your capacity for selflessness. The telling here is so integral to the narrative that I don't think there can be much point in reading the book in translation: you'd miss half of the insider perspective so ably conveyed through the (obviously very deliberate) use of the Romanesco vernacular. Pasolini's ability to convey the psychology of his characters in what may initially look like a th Abject poverty may breed ruthlessness, but it is the comfortable life that blinds you to injustice, and dulls your capacity for selflessness. The telling here is so integral to the narrative that I don't think there can be much point in reading the book in translation: you'd miss half of the insider perspective so ably conveyed through the (obviously very deliberate) use of the Romanesco vernacular. Pasolini's ability to convey the psychology of his characters in what may initially look like a throwaway line is awe-inspiring. Brutal and lyrical, funny and tragic, heartwarming (though never sentimental) and chilling, this is so effective and well executed it defies belief. I could not put it down.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Great poetry on postwar Italy and the very poorest kids loose on the street with little morality, few hopes in gaining anything from following the rules. Not so much a novel as a series of related stories about stealing and robbing and gaining money out on the streets at all hours. Begins with the Germans leaving and ends with a mention of the Korean War. All in between are these boys growing to young men against the backdrop of the architecture of Rome and it suburbs and the building up of a ne Great poetry on postwar Italy and the very poorest kids loose on the street with little morality, few hopes in gaining anything from following the rules. Not so much a novel as a series of related stories about stealing and robbing and gaining money out on the streets at all hours. Begins with the Germans leaving and ends with a mention of the Korean War. All in between are these boys growing to young men against the backdrop of the architecture of Rome and it suburbs and the building up of a new Italy that leaves most of these behind. Great insight, great poetic description. Pasolini is a great read for his place in modern history and his poetic eye.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gianmarco

    Stunning picaresque novel which speaks about children growing up in the suburbs of Rome in the '50s. I used to live there, and the detailed descriptions of the places those kids hang around, paints a perfect picture in my head of how life used to be like 60 years ago. It is written with the technique called eclipse of the narrator, using local language and slangs, even though you can still feel the subtle filter of Pasolini. For those who can't understand some terms, in the late releases there's Stunning picaresque novel which speaks about children growing up in the suburbs of Rome in the '50s. I used to live there, and the detailed descriptions of the places those kids hang around, paints a perfect picture in my head of how life used to be like 60 years ago. It is written with the technique called eclipse of the narrator, using local language and slangs, even though you can still feel the subtle filter of Pasolini. For those who can't understand some terms, in the late releases there's a list of terminology at the very end of the book. Very enjoyable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Viviana

    Currently reading it. Picked it up again after many many years to try Pasolini again cause I never finished his books. This one,again, is telling the roman periphery (actually the neighborhood I currently live)just after the II WW, through a group of young boys and their daily life. So far interesting for the description of places(how they were,in my hometown,at the end of the 40')and the difficulties of daily living. Currently reading it. Picked it up again after many many years to try Pasolini again cause I never finished his books. This one,again, is telling the roman periphery (actually the neighborhood I currently live)just after the II WW, through a group of young boys and their daily life. So far interesting for the description of places(how they were,in my hometown,at the end of the 40')and the difficulties of daily living.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thorlakur

    A somewhat confusing tale of juvenile delinquency in post-war Rome, where layabouts from broken homes exercise cruelty on others. Ann Goldstein has done a good job of this new translation, and the text is very fluid and lively. A great account of the eternal city in yet another transition, when new suburbs are being erected in the post-war economic boom, and how some margins of society are excluded from the party - this book is the poor man's La dolce vita. A somewhat confusing tale of juvenile delinquency in post-war Rome, where layabouts from broken homes exercise cruelty on others. Ann Goldstein has done a good job of this new translation, and the text is very fluid and lively. A great account of the eternal city in yet another transition, when new suburbs are being erected in the post-war economic boom, and how some margins of society are excluded from the party - this book is the poor man's La dolce vita.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra Naglieri

    Those our guys live for today, thanks to mean tricks in a society where the parents don't get at give them a right way to live. Indeed those of few that work are look like lepers. But Pasolini is objective in his narration, so that sometimes their life seems to be romantic, other times it appears so petty and odious. Those our guys live for today, thanks to mean tricks in a society where the parents don't get at give them a right way to live. Indeed those of few that work are look like lepers. But Pasolini is objective in his narration, so that sometimes their life seems to be romantic, other times it appears so petty and odious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Serdar

    Earlier comment from me while reading: "Last Exit To Via Veneto." It's as plotless as Selby's book, and covers much of the same territory -- the lives of those at the bottom of the heap -- although Pasolini's novel didn't quite have the same effect on me. Maybe if I had first read it when I was fifteen .... Earlier comment from me while reading: "Last Exit To Via Veneto." It's as plotless as Selby's book, and covers much of the same territory -- the lives of those at the bottom of the heap -- although Pasolini's novel didn't quite have the same effect on me. Maybe if I had first read it when I was fifteen ....

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alanseinfeld

    A grim and stark depiction of Rome/Italy after WW2. Life was certainly harsh and the future none too bright, as these vignettes reveal, however, I felt them to be disjointed at times, perhaps that is down to the translation? Pasolini's observations are first-hand and obviously affected his life and work, themes, which, would surface in his films. Worth reading. A grim and stark depiction of Rome/Italy after WW2. Life was certainly harsh and the future none too bright, as these vignettes reveal, however, I felt them to be disjointed at times, perhaps that is down to the translation? Pasolini's observations are first-hand and obviously affected his life and work, themes, which, would surface in his films. Worth reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martin Ridgway

    I had no empathy for these characters. They "drift" into minor criminality but it's almost a choice. Other characters drop out of the narrative if they choose the more legal side of things, since they're now of no interest to Pasolini, instead he follows his favourites (?) down to their inevitable end. I had no empathy for these characters. They "drift" into minor criminality but it's almost a choice. Other characters drop out of the narrative if they choose the more legal side of things, since they're now of no interest to Pasolini, instead he follows his favourites (?) down to their inevitable end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    TigressLea

    I found it chaotic and very hard to engage with any of the characters, I simply couldn't finish it as I care what happened to anyone nor in general. I get that it's supposed to reflect the madness, violence and chaos of that time in Italy but it turned out a tedious and ultimately boring read. I found it chaotic and very hard to engage with any of the characters, I simply couldn't finish it as I care what happened to anyone nor in general. I get that it's supposed to reflect the madness, violence and chaos of that time in Italy but it turned out a tedious and ultimately boring read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    This book delivers exactly what you think it will. Post-war kids from the wrong-side of the tracks navigating the perilous post-war landscape. It has a familiar feel. Not earth-shattering by any means, but if you're in the mood, it's worth a go. This book delivers exactly what you think it will. Post-war kids from the wrong-side of the tracks navigating the perilous post-war landscape. It has a familiar feel. Not earth-shattering by any means, but if you're in the mood, it's worth a go.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    The ONLY reason I gave this book two stars instead of one was the ending. Not going to write a spoiler, but I was very touched by the end of this book.

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