Libertino Faussone (lee-behr-TEE-noh fahew-SOH-nay), a rigger of giant steel structures such as cranes and suspension bridges. Faussone is an independent man, tall, thin, tanned, proud of his physical skills, and contemptuous of incompetent bosses, workers, and designers. The thirty-five-year-old Faussone enjoys a variety of professional and personal adventures as he travels around the world setting up monumental steel constructions. This “novel” is, in fact, a collection of separate tales connected mainly by the adventurous personality and forcefully stated perceptions of Faussone, their teller and principal character. He is by no means a perfect man; he is incapable, for example, of maintaining a permanent relationship with a woman, although he clearly has enjoyed a number of intense temporary relationships. He believes that women need “a different man for a husband, the kind that punch the time clock and come home at the same hour and never say boo.” He is also claustrophobic and has a fear of water that has prevented him from learning to swim. Above all, Faussone is a man in love with his work and its demanding structural problems that only the rigger’s indispensable skill can solve. As he says, “For me every job is like a first love.”
The narrator, an industrial chemist who has gone to the Soviet Union to solve a problem of grit in his Italian factory’s exported enamel. Clearly, the narrator is the author, who has decided, at the age of fifty-five, to leave his chemist’s profession and devote himself entirely to his writing. In Russia, he has his first encounter with Faussone, who has been rigging a...
(The entire section is 720 words.)