Tobias Jones

Tobias Jones, a former editorial assistant at the LRB, is the author of the bestselling Dark Heart of Italy.

In Padua, on 20 January 1976, a young girl called Margherita Magello was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead. She was discovered by Massimo Carlotto, a 19-year-old student radical and member of Lotta Continua, who tried to save her, and, in doing so, got covered in her blood. She died, he was arrested and, a pawn in the struggle between Lotta Continua and the police, was tried for her...

Diary: postwar history in Italy

Tobias Jones, 8 March 2001

One of the pleasures of living in Italy is watching the way the ‘facts’ of its postwar history slip and slither about. It’s like looking down a child’s kaleidoscope: every few weeks new evidence emerges to twist the lens, causing the colours to spill into disconcertingly different arrangements. Nothing stays in its place. Prompted by the confessions of a politician or

Diary: San Giovanni Rotondo

Tobias Jones, 13 May 1999

At the turn of the century, San Giovanni Rotondo was a tiny village in the rugged Gargano mountains of Puglia, the province which forms the heel and spur of the Italian boot. Even forty years ago it was linked to Manfredonia, the nearby port, only by a mule track which zigzagged down through olive trees to the Adriatic. Now, though, San Giovanni Rotondo welcomes more than six million visitors a year, and has overtaken Lourdes as Europe’s most popular destination for Catholic pilgrims. It has more than a hundred alberghi and hotels, and will soon have a massive new cathedral designed by Renzo Piano. There is also an imposing new hospital, one of Italy’s largest and most modern.

Diary: The Politics of Football

Tobias Jones, 7 May 1998

For all the American ham and glam, the last World Cup Finals were a public relations disaster: the apex of world football frenzy was a dull noscore draw, and had to be decided on penalties. In a previous game, Diego Maradona had run to the corner flag after scoring for the Argentines, only to stare and rant at the camera in such a maniacal manner that all suspicions were confirmed – his euphoria was ephedrine-induced. Andres Escobar, the unfortunate Colombian who scored an own-goal in his team’s unlikely draw against the Americans, was gunned down on his return home by an embittered betting syndicate. And, to make things even worse, Britain wasn’t even represented.’

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones, 11 December 1997

Paul Auster is so implicated in his own fictions that it is often hard to tell whether his covert appearances there represent a Modernist textual teasing or a baser vanity; whether his walk-on parts are self-mocking or aggrandising. In City of Glass, the first volume in the New York Trilogy, the writer’s identity is always a plaything: Quinn, the writer, uses the pseudonym William Wilson, who himself writes about the improbably named Max Work, and is mistaken for Paul Auster, ‘of the Auster Detective Agency’. (The ‘Auster’ character always gets the smartest lines in the story, being allowed, for example, to expand on his pet theories about Don Quixote and the difficulties, significantly enough, of representation. ‘Remember: throughout the book Don Quixote is preoccupied by the question of posterity. Again and again he wonders how accurately his chronicler will record his adventures.’) The writer stumbles across characters reading his books, only to be told: ‘It’s no big deal. It’s just a book.’ Then in Leviathan, published some years later, Auster uses the same initials for the narrator, Peter Aaron; and anagrammatic sleight of hand (Delia/Lydia, Iris/Siri: Auster’s real-life loves past and present) further blurs the boundaries between his facts and his fictions.‘

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