Melissa Rose Bernardo
June 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Ballad of the Low Lifes

Current Status
In Season
Enrico Remmert

We gave it an A-

Italian writer Remmert’s second novel chronicles the fascinating exploits of Milo and Vittorio, truffatori (con men) who drink beer, dispense dime-store dogma, and eke out a few thousand lire by pushing aspirin disguised as Ecstasy. ”Come on, gentle readers,” Vittorio reasons, ”the world is an open pit of minor deceits, swindles, fiddles, scams and aggravated frauds.” Naturally, the two tire of small-time trickery and enlist Uncle Grissino to craft the ”Big C” — which involves peddling magic powder to horoscope-hungry fools and creating a fake courier service called Bulls on Wheels. The author has a knack for the wonderfully bizarre: naming a character Uncle Breadstick, turning one scene into a videogame, tracing a day from the POV of Vittorio’s rear end. Remmert’s ingenuity so thoroughly takes us in, the truffatori would be proud.

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