The Wrench by Primo Levi – Classics Club Spin No 37

The Wrench by Primo Levi is a quick read at just 171 pages. It’s unlike anything else that I’ve read by the author, which I must admit was a bit of a relief as I wasn’t in the mood for reading about the horrors that he experienced in concentration camps during World War 2. The Wrench has the title The Monkey’s Wrench in America. The book was written after Levi had retired from his work as a chemist at a paint factory.

There are only two main characters in this book, Faussone and the autobiographical chemist. They’re both working in a very remote part of Russia. Faussone is a rigger and he has plenty of tales to tell of his work experiences all over the world, always in remote places.  Each experience takes the form of a short story, they’re all loosely connected. The job of a rigger is to construct cranes and other large mechanical structures. The riggers are the first to arrive at any project, sometimes moving in to places that had been home to animals previously. Problems occur of course, but they’re there to be solved, which they are.

I found this one to be entertaining. Faussone is obviously happy to have a new audience for his tales, he’s by far the most garrulous one.

The blurb on the back says: ‘One of the sanest, most experienced and wisest books I’ve ever read’ Douglas Dunn, Glasgow Herald.

‘Transforms molecules and ballbearings into romantic fairy-tales’ VOGUE

Bernard Levin of The Times wrote at length about it on the back, and he seems to have loved it.

So this was a good spin choice for me. It was originally written in Italian and was translated by William Weaver, very successfully I think.

 

 

6 thoughts on “The Wrench by Primo Levi – Classics Club Spin No 37

  1. I’m glad you liked this. I remember it leaving a favourable impression on me when I read it at least 30 years ago. My husband had read it before me and said it was the first fiction he had read with engineering as the subject!

    • Janet,
      My husband also read it not long after it was first published, and at that time he was a research chemist, it would have been the first fiction he read with a chemist as a character I suspect!

    • Anbolyn,
      I think you would enjoy it, and it won’t take long to read. I presume that it’ll be available from a library, maybe even yours!

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