Paperback review: The Wrench, By Primo Levi

Life-affirming properties amid the building sites

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The Independent Culture

This re-release of a title first published in Italian in 1978 has since acquired the reputation of being something of an oddity in Levi's oeuvre, especially given its more life-affirming properties.

It pits Faussone, a man who works as a rigger on construction sites in various parts of the world, against Levi the writer, the storyteller, who doesn't move anywhere or build anything except in his imagination. It occurs to Levi as Faussone, expansive, talkative, one who considers himself free, regales him with tales of his exploits, that work is essential to the human soul, whatever the nature of that labour. It's a slow-build as Levi's hero meanders and reminisces, but there is real beauty in the moments of revelation.