Matteo Strukul writes pulp for adults
"Strukul shows his love for revenge comics without degenerating into cartoonishness. He exposes a side of northeastern Italian life unknown to outsiders and perhaps many insiders."I thought of that comment again today when reading in the finished novel about a Chinese gang boss in northeastern Italy, where the book is set. Not only does the gangster brutalize, extort, and enslave illegal immigrants from China, but
"He had deprived Veneto not only of its factories, closing one after another, nearly two hundred every year, but also of its tradition of craftsmanship: the old tailoring schools were starting to disappear, even those that represented the region's oldest heritage."and
"All of that while sucking the blood of north-east Italy: jeans for fashionable people, five Euro rather than twenty-five; shirts for twenty rather than forty."Now, make no mistake: Strukul is no Stieg Larsson, dishing out improving lectures about the rich world's evil ways. The Ballad of Mila is full of comic-book trappings: over-the-top violence; deadly martial arts; Japanese swords; a lethal, beautiful, revenge-seeking babe; and showdowns between rival gangs. But the observations about globalization anchor the story in reality. And this lends the tale both a moral heft and a menacing edge. The Ballad of Mila is a story Quentin Tarantino might tell if he ever makes an adventure movie for adults.
© Peter Rozovsky 2014