Friday, March 10, 2017
Review of The Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax (Soho Press, 2012)
The Detour recounts the tale of Ernst Vogler, a budding art historian who worked on the Third Reich’s Sonderprojekte, collecting great art for the Fuhrer before the Second World War. It is told as recollection as Vogler arrives back in Italy in 1948 to track down the woman he fell in love with on his last visit, a decade previously. On that trip, Vogler was sent to Rome to accompany the famous statue, The Discus Thrower, back to Germany. He is accompanied on his journey to the border by twin brothers, Enzo and Cosimo, who are police officers and speak rudimentary German. Fearing that the statue is at risk, the brothers lose their escort and take a detour, with Enzo becoming obsessed with seeing his girlfriend. As the journey progresses a series of mishaps and tragedies befall the trio. Rather than telling the tale as a straightforward adventure, Romano-Lax nicely blends in a smattering of politics, art and philosophy, as well as thread of romance. The historical context and Vogler’s backstory is well constructed and there’s a strong sense of place as the trio head north through the back-roads of central Italy. The result is a bittersweet tale of a sensitive and insecure young man coming of age in difficult circumstances and returning years later to see if he can find lost love.