I had many long hours of travel last week, but I wasn’t bored. I read Shanti by Alessandro Manzetti and the miles and hours vanished like the suffering people in his tale. It’s not light reading and I advise the squeamish and easily frightened to stay away from this world.
But for the less timid among us, Shanti is a wonderful, horrible story. It reads like poetry that spins the spasmodic dance of mortality into a ballet. The word play is beautiful. There were sentences I stopped to savor, rolling the puzzle of words across my mind to extract every bit of nuance. Lovely words knit together to make brilliant tapestries of horror… the scenarios Manzetti creates threaten to haunt the reader long after the final page.
No boundaries stand in this book and nothing is sacred. Manzetti explores every aspect of depravity along these pages through the combined voice of the inhabitants of Paris, or what is left of it. Possibly the most frightening part of the story is the fragments of ourselves we see mirrored in Manzetti’s alien Paris.
Between the smoking, chemical rains perversion finds a way to survive, preying on the defenseless. It is a world of eat, or be eaten in a diseased landscape that whispers to us of now, our present day. It warns us of what we might be, given the right push. Worst of all, it questions what we might want to be.
This is not a book for everyone. It is not a book for most. It is a book for those brave enough to delve into the worst of humanity. Those who resurface will have treasure. It is viscous, graphic, assaulting, brilliant and worth surviving. There is beauty in horror. This is beautiful horror.