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Pier Vittorio Tondelli: Pao Pao

The title is an untranslatable pun. It means bang bang but PAO stands for Picchetto Armato Ordinario which more or less translates to guard duty. This novel is about young Italians doing their military service or, rather, it is about young, gay, artistic Italians doing their military service. Tondelli recounts an amusing and well-written account of military service where the military bit, while not totally irrelevant, is certainly no more than an irritation. Right from the beginning when the new recruits first arrive, our hero is not worrying about army life or the ill-fitting clothes but is checking out Lele, the fellow recruit with whom he will fall in love. On he goes, getting himself an easy job, first in the guard house and then in the Ministry of Defence in Rome, all the while pursuing his artistic and sexual pursuits and, proving, if proof was needed that life in the army is more fun if you are gay than if you are straight.

Publishing history

First published 1982 by Feltrinelli
No English translation