My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir

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An extraordinary coming-of-age memoir by the Nobel-Prize-winning playwright

My First Seven Years is Dario Fo's fantastic, enchanting memoir of his youth spent in Northern Italy on the shores of Lago Maggiore. As a child, Fo grew up in a picturesque village teeming with glass-blowers, smugglers and storytellers. Of his teenage years, Fo recounts the struggles of the Fascists and Partisans, the years of World War II, and his own tragicomic ...

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My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir

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Overview

An extraordinary coming-of-age memoir by the Nobel-Prize-winning playwright

My First Seven Years is Dario Fo's fantastic, enchanting memoir of his youth spent in Northern Italy on the shores of Lago Maggiore. As a child, Fo grew up in a picturesque village teeming with glass-blowers, smugglers and storytellers. Of his teenage years, Fo recounts the struggles of the Fascists and Partisans, the years of World War II, and his own tragicomic experience trying to desert the Fascist army.

In a series of colorful vignettes, Fo draws us into a remarkable early life filled with characters and anecdotes that would become the inspiration for his own creative genius.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Expertly translated by Joseph Farrell, My First Seven Years vividly chronicles the Nazi-Fascist scourge. ... A fascinating account of a writer's formative years, by turns tender and sardonic."

—Ian Thomson, author of Primo Levi: A Life

"Replete with humorous anecdotes and zany events, this book is an entertaining, life-affirming and informative read. ... Fo paints a picture of a bucolic childhood, of wild adventures and japes, but interweaves this innocence with the often brutal political and social realities of the time, which impinge, even if indistinctly, on his child's mind." —Morning Star (UK)

"Masterful scenes of black comedy"— Guardian (UK)

"A mezmerizing portrayal of early childhood, told with great panache and well-timed comedy."—Good Book Guide (UK)

"Dario Fo's crafty and uproarious memoir...both hilarious and deadly serious."—The Socialist Review

Publishers Weekly
Fo, Italy's leading contemporary playwright, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, is a radical dramatist best known for his political satire Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1970). In staging his provocative plays on such social and political issues as abortion, political corruption and organized crime, the controversial Fo was attacked and censored. In this memoir, he offers a lively, evocative narrative of his youth. Born in 1926, Fo grew up on the shores of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, and he vividly recalls his childhood experiences, encountering jazz musicians, circus performers and, most importantly, storytellers. From his grandfather and locals, he learned the art of improvisatory storytelling: "Their language and tales made an indelible mark." In the concluding chapters he writes of WWII and gives an amusing but tense account of sneaking a trainload of British and South African prisoners disguised as women out of Italy and into Switzerland. Writing with verve, wit and an imaginative flair, Fo reveals the roots of his caustic satires, his commedia dell'arte style and his anarchistic attitudes. (Oct. 4) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The Nobel prize-winning playwright Fo tells his early life story in a memoir of fairy-tale dimensions, here translated by Farrell (Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Harlequins of the Revolution). Fo was born between the world wars on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy. His father was a railroad man, and the family moved often as a result. Fo makes every person in his life vivid, comic, and memorable, though the figures he admires most are the storytellers who teach him his own voice: that of tale spinner, clown, and social critic. A reader can imagine Fo's future in theater as he describes his grandfather, a peddler who captivates his customers with jokes, stories, and pointed commentary. In this book, with its backdrop of war, shifting borders, and anarchy, Fo charms the reader with vivid storytelling of his own. Recommended for general collections.-Jan Brue Enright, Augustana Coll. Lib., Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Chronicle of the 1997 Nobel Laureate playwright's formative years and experiences in his native Italy. No ponderous discourse on the meaning of life and art from the man (b. 1926) whose body of work includes a TV drama the Catholic Church called the "most blasphemous" ever broadcast to the Italian public. Indeed, Fo's consistent vein of socialist anti-authoritarian themes even gave the U.S. government pause about granting him a visa to perform here 20 years ago. In his memoir, however, with Farrell's adept translation, Fo gives glimpse after revealing glimpse of the shy station-master's son whose imagination, nurtured by caring parents and relatives, and hunger for the aura of the fabulatore-the storyteller-took him far beyond the railroad tracks of his youth. So willing were his parents to enrich his fantasy life, for example, that they encouraged him to believe that all the roof tiles in the Swiss town he could see across Lake Maggiore were made of chocolate. This gentle joke was on him, but Fo realized early on that it was far more fun telling stories when the joke was on the listener, just as his maternal grandfather, Brist"n (a nickname meaning "pepper seed"), would win over customers for his farm produce by needling them as they gathered to buy. But it was the glass-blowers, fishermen and smugglers in the international factory town of Porto Valtravaglia, where his father was reposted, who riveted him with their elaborate stories. After much examination of "the texts of medieval codices and poets," Fo writes, "I discovered, not without some smug self satisfaction, that . . . in those writings lie the roots of every fable I learned from my story tellers." The memoir also covers theauthor's comic adventures in deserting from the fascist army in wartime by first volunteering for hazardous duty. Pleasingly accessible picture of the faraway childhood that molded a modern artist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312359171
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 8.13 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

DARIO FO was born in 1926 in northern Italy. He began working in theater as a comic and actor. Together with his wife, Franca Rame, he has been highly successful as an actor, director, and writer of satirical comedies for the theatre. His work has been politically important in Italy and won him international acclaim. In 1997 Dario Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. JOSEPH FARRELL is an award-winning translator of Italian novels and plays and is the author of Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Harlequins of the Revolution. He lives in Scotland.

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