Italian Twilight Zone
It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And, it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. – Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone)
Catastrophe, the strange stories of Dino Buzzati (1949) is a brilliant collection of surreal stories. Each deals with a disaster and many have an allegorical mood. People are trapped on a train rushing towards an unknown cataclysm; a reporter searches for a elusive landslide; a rich family refuses to believe there’s a flood outside their house.
Buzzati wrote Catastrophe after WW2 and it reflects the fears of the time. My favourite is a kind of parable about dictatorship in which a bat-like creature terrorizes a household. A more satirical story has an epidemic of ‘state influenza’ which attacks only those opposed to the government. The scariest tale is about a hospital with seven floors that lead a patient either upwards or downwards, towards life or death.
These bizarre, suspenseful stories reminded me of the best of The Twilight Zone which also walked the fine line between real and imaginary (eg. the episode Nick of Time) .
Fantasy should be as close as possible to journalism.– Dino Buzzati