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A Novel by Michael Mirolla

A metaphysical detective story for fans of
Auster's City of Glass.

Winner, 2010 F.G. Bressani Literary Prize in fiction.

Giulio Chiavetta (ex-stationary engineer by trade and selfstyled freelance circus mime by inclination) became visibly agitated after unfolding the newspaper that had been placed on his lawn chair. This was the chair—“Prop. of G.A. Chiavetta” scratched with a rusty nail across its back—on which he liked to sun himself every chance he got. Even when there was no sun. Even in the most impenetrable fog. Even after the first permanent snow had arrived and he had to huddle beneath several blankets just to keep from shivering to death.

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"Fans of the bizarre films of David Lynch are likely to enjoy this curious book."
Publishers Weekly

"Michael Mirolla...is a teller of tales that only the tautest of prose could relate with cohesion and beauty. This book will thrill the mind."

Merlin meets "Blade Runner" in this macabre yet hilarious twisting of logic. The Berlin Wall falls. A continent away, a mental patient awakes from a two-year stupor. His escape from the hospital launches a surreal adventure in which past blends with future, and death is used to change the fabric of the world in a freakish experiment on transcendental philosophy. Like Kafka or Italo Calvino in the blending of real and surreal, this story brings the reader into West Berlin’s seamy underlife—the omnipresent wall, transvestite bars, sadomasochism; a secret world where a concentration-camp survivor sells gas stoves, a world of philosophical intelligentsia, adultery, and murder. Frenetic, kaleidoscopic, horrible, brilliant.

Quill & Quire, January 2010

“Berlin, from Toronto writer Michael Mirolla, is an ambitious novel concerned with, among many other things, the nature of identity, the weight of history, the significance of catastrophe, and the legacies of both fascism and communism… Mirolla’s ideas are thought-provoking (and in some cases, cringe-inducing).”

Toronto Sun, January 18, 2009

The other side of the Wall: Complex thriller centres around infamous Berlin barrier

Giulio Chiavetta, a practically comatose patient in a Montreal mental facility, suddenly becomes alert and just as suddenly goes missing following the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Searching for a clue to his "awakening" and present whereabouts, his psychiatrist at the facility uncovers files in Giulio's computer that tell the story of philosopher Antonio Serratura, also from Montreal but from a world far removed from that of Chiavetta who worked as a stationary engineer before his incarceration.

In Italian, "chiavetta" can be rendered as "little key" and "serratura" as "lock." Knowing those simple translations opens one door, at least, into the bizarre, unsettling world of "Berlin," a novel by Toronto author Michael Mirolla.

The story unfolds as Serratura accepts an invitation to attend a philosophy conference at the West German city's university just before the Berlin Wall comes down.

Through a wild series of events we meet a crazy cast of characters who stalk Berlin's underbelly, characters that include a concentration camp survivor who sells gas stoves, a punk rock philosopher with suicidal tendencies, a sadomasochistic brother-sister act, and a little old man who likes to watch Nazi propaganda films. At the same time, the streets of Berlin are teeming with protesters, out to make U. S. President Ronald Reagan's visit as unpleasant as possible.

"Berlin" is at times intriguing, passionate, sad -- and hilarious. Mirolla is a master storyteller who spins a web of truths, lies, pain and joy. Time, space and logic are thrown for a loop as we travel through the warped world of "Berlin," as Mirolla explores fantasy, reality and existence.

But it's all done with an easy style that entertains as it enlightens. An awardwinning author with several novels and short story and poetry collections under his belt, Mirolla is a former journalist who served time in trashy supermarket tabloids as well as the socalled "serious" press, and both of those influences are at work in "Berlin."

The craziness is counter-balanced by thoughtful examinations of logic; the bizarre is underscored by forthright probing into what it means to be alive, what it means to be human and what "identity" is all about.

"Berlin" will make you laugh, cry -- and cringe. Through skillful storytelling and honest writing, Mirolla has you squirming in your seat as you eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.

As you enter the world of "Berlin," you are confronted by the metaphysical and the surreal. But as complex as it seems, Mirolla eventually provides the key to unlocking all of its twists and turns.

"Berlin" is fast-paced, witty and challenging. It is also thoroughly enjoyable. And, beneath it all, there lurks a genuine human mystery, the uncovering of which is both shocking and brilliant. (Jim Baine)


Rain Taxi Review of Books, September 2009

"Through a mix of contradictions, questions, and emotionally troubling scenes, Berlin offers the overwhelming experience of going insane. The narrative subtly weaves in threads of disturbed imagination until the whole fabric ecomes incoherent, without giving away the tipping point where sanity falls off. Its gradual, haunting descent can alternatively leave one unable to stop reading and unable to continue... Some scenes and images powerfully disturb....If novels ever hit the shelves with parental guidance labels, Berlin will surely have one. Yet Mirolla's book excels...and profides a complex city of horrors to those who accept the invitation."

Event Magazine

“Weird and wonderful . . . imaginative, unsettling, devilishly layered. Mirolla delights in verbal and situational sleight-of-hand, exposing a disorienting world of labyrinthine dreams and menacing recurrent images. Mirolla likes the macabre and grotesque, absurdities and stylistic play. He mercilessly exposes our alienation and primal fears, forcing us to face the awful possibility that we are no more than the product of our own devising.”

“Mirolla is acrobatic in his ability to bring off complex ideas rooted in metaphysics or formal logic (or both) in narrative fiction and still tell a satisfying story. His writing is engaging, polished, and economical. The formidable intellect that informs Mirolla’s writing, however, is in no way cool or detached. Here I think of ‘The Truth-Tree Method,’ which appears in The Formal Logic of Emotion. It is an intense amalgam of anger, regret, scorn, estrangement, sorrow, and a deep appreciation of life’s rhythm. Mirolla injects ferocity where many writers are content just to observe.

“So it is with Berlin. I am full of admiration for the way he pulled off the plot. He carefully telegraphed where he was headed, but still surprised me when I got to the end. Berlin is in the best tradition of metaphysical detective stories. No matter who seemed to be narrating, there was an attitude of affection and malevolence toward Serratura that was hypnotizing. It was the only thing that kept me from despising him. That and his continuing predicaments. I kept empathizing despite myself. I laughed out loud, inappropriately I suppose, when Chiavetta answered Ryle’s question about who he had killed. All in all, a delightful romp through the metaphysical muck. One of the best pieces of fiction I’ve read in a while.”

—Bill Turpin, former Managing Editor, Halifax Daily News

Michael Mirolla is a fortuitous amalgam of Italian and Canadian. Born in Italy, he spent formative years in Montreal and now lives in Toronto where he has pursued a long and exceptionally productive career. His work is known for its exploration of the surreal and twisted shrapnel of the human soul. He is versatile in almost every form of the written word in two languages, and has won major national awards in all forms of expression. In addition to his dark and intense novels, he writes short stories, poetry, plays, and movie scripts.

PAGES: 200
TRIM: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-9815148-1-9
PRICE: $14.95 / Paperback Original
Pub Date: January 2009 

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