Anthony Cummins

Following the Male Gaze

Ferocity

By

Europa Editions 447pp £13.99 order from our bookshop

What you make of this tangled tale of backhanders and blackmail in southern Italy may turn on whether you feel it perpetuates or merely portrays the misogyny at the novel’s heart. It’s tempting to judge the matter purely on the evidence of the prologue, in which an unnamed woman with a ‘full, taut pair of breasts’ wanders naked and bloodied on a motorway after midnight. She doesn’t, to the narrator’s evidently practised eye, look ‘much over thirty’, yet can’t be younger than twenty-five, thanks to ‘the intangible relaxing of tissues that turns the slenderness of certain adolescent girls into something perfect’.

Writing like this is bad in all sorts of ways. Yet the more I read Ferocity, which offers a horribly persuasive account of how male sexual violence can be a tool for consolidating wealth and power, the more I felt sure Nicola Lagioia had set out to do more than simply parrot the kind of objectification on show in a sentence such as this one: ‘She … didn’t even feel the chilly metallic 500-watt power [of the streetlight] that once again revealed the curve of her waist.’ (Revealed to whom?)

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,