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In The Hand of Dante, Reviewed

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nick tosches in the hand of dante

“In my years, I felt that I had either exhibited or witnessed every stupidity within the repertoire of the higher vertebrates. But this was a new one.”

Nick Tosches goes medieval on his editors (and more) in In the Hand of Dante: A Novel.

Louie pulled off his bra and threw it down upon the casket.

Louie has issues, sure. Wait ‘til you meet Nick.

In The Hand of Dante is Nick Tosches’ bizarre hybrid of a novel. It follows two odysseys: Dante Alighieri struggles to capture the divine in prose. Seven hundred years later, Mafioso sleazebags struggle amongst themselves after sustaining a treasure of illimitable value. Bursting into the spotlight is Nick Tosches; a writer, the alter ego of the author Nick Tosches. He enters with a jarring, loosely autobiographical narrative and escalates into an all out rant – attacking the publishing industry, AOL Time Warner, Oprah Winfrey, and any other entity that might have crossed (and soiled) his path – before settling into the story line as the sometimes-associate of a Mob boss. As such, Nick is made an offer he can’t refuse: Authenticate the original manuscript of The Divine Comedy.

Portions of the book that chronicle Alighieri’s trials don’t have the same passion and spark as Tosches ’ raging accounts of modern-day thuggery, but they are worthwhile thanks to the author’s extensive knowledge of Dante’s life. The real lifeblood of the novel is Tosches’ anger, his pain, and his first-hand insight of genuine scum. Still, the threads interweave to create a unique experience.  Ugly, beautiful, and truly weird, In The Hand of Dante emerges a true original.  

Excerpts:

There were nine skies: not heavens, but skies. All of what truth [Dante Alighieri] knew had begun with the revelation of this ennead. […] The stars then had beckoned to him to read their myriad secrets, and were without moon. (Chapter 2)

I was six years old when I first took the life of another.
Did I really just write those words? (Chapter 3)

Louie was not in the fucking mood for this fucking shit tonight. He had just ordered a fucking pizza and was settling down to watch the fucking ball game, and now this. (Chapter 4)

I’m sick of these sons of bitches who moan and groan about how they work so hard for their fucking families. They’re full of shit, every fucking one of them. Only the artist works truly for his loved ones and descendants alone. And that is because they are the only ones who get to see the fucking paycheck. Artists are not paid hourly. They are not paid weekly. They are not paid monthly. They are not paid annually. They are paid posthumously. In life, there is nothing; not even decent down-payment, not even the token of gesture of a ten-percent lagniappe. (Chapter 6)

In The Hand of Dante
Nick Tosches
2002
Back Bay Books
Little, Brown and Company

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