Buzzati, Dino. “Catastrophe: And Other Stories”, Ecco, 2018.
Dino Buzzati was a journalist, novelist, poet, and short story writer who died in 1972 and left behind his legacy of writing that is as contemporary today as when he first wrote it. This collection of stories looks at the “nightmarish side of our ordinary existence with humor, irony, and menace, striking a Translated by Judith Landry, this is the first time these stories have been published in America. Buzzati is a master of sinister wit whose characters find themselves dealing with forces that are so much bigger than they are. Perhaps the word “paranoia” is the best one to use when describing his stories and by this I mean the paranoia of the individual against the paranoia of the state. For example “The Epidemic” is about the gradual effects of a “state influenza” that targets those who disagree with the government, and “The Collapse of Baliverna” is about a man who cannot decides whether an error on his part caused a building to collapse. His overall theme seems to be the struggle in everyday interactions and the “sometimes perverse workings of human emotions and desires.” It is almost that we are all walking toward some kind of catastrophe.
There are fifteen stories in the collection and in each them we consider if there is nothing in life that can stop us from making an error in life and losing ourselves. This is an illumination of “the slow and quietly terrifying collapse of our known, ordinary world.”