The Italian Question
For about eight years now, I’ve been working on a novel about D’Annunzio, the Italian poet, novelist, playwright, memoirist, journalist, playboy, war hero and (arguably) proto-fascist. More than once I’ve thought the novel was finished, only to re-examine it a few months later and decide that it needed more work. I’ve queried agents about it—quite a few, sixty or seventy—and was surprised that none wanted to represent it. But recently, I took to heart what the most thoughtful agent had said about it (even though he admitted he had not read the entire novel) and began yet another revision—or perhaps more accurately, a rewrite, since it’s virtually a new novel now. In this essay I intend to describe how the novel has developed, where it has gone wrong, and what, if anything, I can hope to do about it.