Eugenio Volpe discusses I, Caravaggio

{pages} is pleased to host author Eugenio Volpe to discuss and sign his new book on Thursday, October 5th at 6:30 pm. This is a free event, but RSVPs are encouraged. RSVP HERE
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eugenio Volpe is a Redondo Beach resident who spends half his time surfing between Second and Third Point Malibu and the other half immersed in 17th-century art history scandal. He is a winner of the PEN Discovery Award in Fiction. His debut novel I, Caravaggio is a modernized portrayal of the baroque master’s turbulent launch into superstardom. Volpe’s writing can be found in Gulf Coast, the Massachusetts Review, Hobart, New York Tyrant, and elsewhere. His essay “Jesus Kicks His Oedipus Complex” was a notable in Best American Essays 2021. Volpe’s scholarly interests include critical theory, narrative design, and rhetoric. He teaches at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He couldn't have done any of this without the support of his wife and son. For more, visit: https://www.eugeniovolpe.com/
 
ABOUT THE BOOK: The famous bi-sexual libertine who would be more at home on Tinder than at a Roman Cathedral, gallivants through the streets like brush strokes to become a Baroque 16th century icon. The year is 1604 and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is a superstar, his blockbuster paintings packing the pews of Rome. Caravaggio should be reveling in prosperity, but the artistic trailblazer and nefarious street-brawler is his own worst enemy. While the genius paints masterpieces, the ruffian in him can’t stay out of jail. Caravaggio is a man at existential odds with himself until falling in love with Lena Antognetti, the prostitute modeling his newest Virgin pictures. Caravaggio paints Lena into a life of wealth and celebrity, but the power couple’s provocative fame earns them a horde of resentful and jealous enemies. I, Caravaggio dramatizes the superstar’s psychological unraveling under the sexual and political pressures of the Catholic Reformation.
 
WHY CARAVAGGIO:
Caravaggio arrived like a messiah and disappeared like a god.
He first entered the gates of Rome as a naked and starving twentysomething seeking an art apprenticeship. Eighteen years later, he was the infamous superstar who vanished into thin air.
Like most deities, Caravaggio was known by many names. History has ultimately christened him Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, but according to biographer Peter Robb, he was documented in Roman courts by fifteen various surnames—Marisi, Merigi, Morigi, Moriggia, Narigi, Amarighi, and Amerighi among them. Robb also reports that Caravaggio’s friends were equally mixed on a moniker, casting him as Michele, Michelangelo, Michelagnolo, and Caravaggio. Whenever signing his name, the superstar genius identified himself as Marisi.
It makes sense that a maniacal genius with two dozen identities was the one to discover human consciousness. Caravaggio innovated selfies. He invented chiaroscuro. He revolutionized painting from live models, depicting peasants, laborers, and prostitutes as saints and Virgins. Caravaggio was psychological three-hundred years before Wundt, James, or Freud. He was Marxist two-hundred years before Karl. His deep explorations into human consciousness were being painted at a time when the first microscopes, telescopes, and thermometers were being fabricated.
Caravaggio paintings were proto-Hollywood motion pictures. He had the eminence of a celebrity movie director. There is speculation that his pictures were innovatively devised using a camera obscura. If true, this fortifies the analogy of Caravaggio as an early modern director, towering over Scorsese and Welles, and vastly overshadowing the aesthetical and technical importance of Vittorio Calcina screening his Pope Leo XII documentary on a Lumière Brothers projector in 1895.
Caravaggio loved men and women. Caravaggio could choke-out your favorite UFC fighter. He could outduel your favorite Jedi. Caravaggio was postmodern while being one of the founding fathers of modernity. To this day, he is more modern than David Bowie, Mick Jagger, or Lou Reed.
The only documentation of his voice comes from police reports and testimonies from various court trials of slander, assault, and brutal batteries. In writing Caravaggio a modernized voice, I wanted him to speak in our idioms and slang. I wanted to transform early modern Rome into the gritty streets of Luc Sante’s early 1980’s New York. I wanted an early modern Rome with graffiti, pizza, and donuts. I wanted Caravaggio to live inside a Velvet Underground album with big-haired, sexually fluid dudes dressed in frilly velvets, but instead of switchblades, they’re carving each other up with rapiers.
I hope and pray that Caravaggio doesn’t hate it.
 
And some REVIEWS: 

---New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt says about this book: “Volpe’s outrageously inventive novel recreates Caravaggio and early modern Rome with a post-modern spin, all the while asking shockwave questions: Who is art really for, the masses or ourselves? Are we our own Gods? Whiplash smart, this novel did what the best books do: it changed the way I see not just Caravaggio, but the world.” 

 
---LAMBDA Literary Review has named I, Caravaggio as one of the best LGBTQ+ books of July 2023
 
---"What a talent Eugenio Volpe is! One of the freshest new voices around, I always look forward to reading his work!” (Ann Hood, best-selling author of The Obituary Writer and The Red Thread)
Event address: 
Books: 
I, Caravaggio By Eugenio Volpe Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781955904759
Availability: Out of Stock, but we can likely order it for you. We will advise if we cannot.
Published: Clash Books - July 25th, 2023