Vin, a seasoned 'historian of sorts', instantly recognisable with his thick shock of white hair and grimy glasses, drives around the streets of Boston in a decrepit old Dodge, picking up the vibe of immigrant communities, railing at the state of modern America, the blandness of modern food, the voter apathy that has allowed Reagan into the White House. His life work appears to be the compilation a great volume on the history of Italian-American anarchism in America.
Gregorio, several years Vin's junior, rolls through life in a battered leather jacket, seeing local punk bands at the Rat in Boston, washing dishes at a restaurant on the weekend. He spends the rest of his days ploughing through Vin's archive of microfilm and documentation on the IWW, the Sacco & Vanzetti trial and the journals of imprisoned early twentieth-century anarchists Herbert Mindermann and Errico Malatesta.
By night the pair drink grappa and coffee, listen to Vin's crackly opera and jazz records, and talk history into the small hours.
Through these two central characters Joseph Torra skilfully weaves an expansive, compulsive and complex narrative that throws up all kinds of connections between Massachusetts in the 1980s and anarchist insurgency in the USA in the early years of the 20th century. The book has echoes of John Dos Passos' USA trilogy and the works of Paul Metcalf; it cements Joseph Torra's place amongst the leading chroniclers of the immigrant experience in the USA, and as one of the finest writers in America today.