28 October 2007

What We Don't Know about Children by Simona Vinci

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Now, this is a book that I've read about ever since it was first published in Swedish within the great Panache series in 2001. Knowing it must be an awful reading experience as it is about children and pornography, I waited up until now. And yes, it is among the worst stories I've ever read, reminding me of the exact day that my childhood passion for horror novels came to an abrupt end because of some passage in a Dean R. Koontz novel that made me dizzy.

SImona Vinci has written a book about some Italian kids between 10 and 15 years old who one summer start to explore adult sexuality. At first it seems pretty innocent, like a romantic memory of childhood, in the summer that year you move away from the playgrounds and start playing with the older kids somewhere else; beyond the corn fields, in some old building. But then the oldest of the five starts taking advantage of the younger, using them for sexual purposes. He brings porn magazines to their meetings for everyone to study before their collective performing, and if it wasn't bad enough to read about ten year old-girls having sex for the first time, suddenly the magazines get more and more explicit and advanced.

By the end of the book I wanted to throw up. Simona Vinci is quite brief about describing the worst, which makes the reading experience even more horrifying. But I do believe she has written a story of utmost importance. It must take guts for someone to write about something as haunting as childhood sexuality gone very very VERY wrong. After all it is a subject I guess most people try not to think about too much: what children are really up to.

At The New York Times Book Review you can read the first chapter of the book.

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