Synopses & Reviews
Andrea B. Nardi's latest book - already published in Italy - gathers together the memories of a man who grew up on a farm in the Great Plains of North America, sometime between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of what was foreseen as a new century of hope.In his novel No Shade in South Dakota Andrea B. Nardi recreates an atmosphere of another time and another place. It is the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in America, and far from the glittering frenzy of the cities, the Great Prairie attracts the defeated and the visionary. It draws those in search of a new life, under a sky that is so clear and of such power because it has never been depleted by human presence.At the very heart of this unknown expanse of grassland, a harsh infinity of green where the horizon is unchanging, we find La Calahorra, founded by a small group of disparate men and women. They include Sheriff Collquitt, Pastor Mayer, Woodrow the druggist, the rancher Teddy, and the youngsters Pea, Coy and Scarlett. They bring with them stories of a war that has recently ended, but is not yet over; they spend their solitary lives on the farmsteads or on horseback, though they also experience adventure, love and beauty. It is a rural existence in continuous struggle with a nature so ruthless that it is almost beyond our understanding.Yet the inhabitants of La Calahorra calmly accept their isolation, everyone, that is, except the young main character who narrates these tales of native Americans and cowboys, of friendships and the silences that fill his days as he dreams of a different future. It will be in the chaotic cities of the east and west coasts that his adult life plays out, first as a reporter, and then as a writer mixing with the likes of Jack London and Mark Twain, in the refined neighborhoods of the prosperous upper classes. But in a world that runs on narrow tracks established by those who hold the power, modernity and progress come at a heavy price. Hope in what civilization can offer can easily turn into disillusionment. And into thoughts of escaping West once again.The narrator is a young boy, orphaned and adopted when very young by a married couple that has settled in the little town of La Calahorra, in the wilderness of the American frontier.Farming life is marked by unimaginable hardship for the townsfolk, but also by their resolve not to return to the civilization they fled. Separated from the rest of the world, the town takes on a surreal atmosphere marked by a profound love for - and subjugation to - the precarious existence they have chosen.The stories of various characters are told, their present lives filled with the pain and passion of life on the Great Prairie, their cherished dreams of a place where they can start things afresh, far from a life that was so disrupted by the all-too-recent Civil War.The young narrator grows up alongside his group of friends, experiencing all the wild, all the sweet emotions of a country child. He sees tragic clashes with native Americans, the hardships suffered by the settlers; he witnesses outlaws being hung, and hears accounts told by newcomers to the town; he marvels at the mass migration of millions of buffaloes, and even discovers that the sheriff has a mysterious secret.Andrea B. Nardi was born of Italian parents on a ranch in North Africa in 1963. He divides his time between Europe and Kansas. A professional journalist and writer, Nardi has published essays and graphic novels, art catalogues, articles, short stories and novels. No Shade in South Dakota has now been translated for the American market.