A few years ago I read Kirsten Spiteri’s English language novel, Far From Home and, to be honest, I did not like it too much. The story was inconsistent, the style was functionable . It lacked something special.
Perfettament Imperfetta (Perfectly Imperfect) is his first novel in Maltese and as I have said many times, I approach each book without any preconceptions so that the final judgement is fair.
The book consists of two narrators: Wade, a tween who is a mess of hormones and Miguel, a sixty six year who is equally brimming with hormones but since he is a widowed philosophy lecturer, let’s say he gives his sexed up emotions an intellectual edge. Both characters have designs over 17 year old Charlotte. In Wade’s case she is the desirable next door neighbour and for Miguel she is a student who attends his philosophy private lessons.
Perfettament Imprefetta is essentially a tale of obsession. However it is constructed in an interesting way. It starts out as an Adria Mole book: i.e. a horny teenager expressing his fantasies but when Miguel’s narrative wriggles in, the book goes into darker territories and that obsession evolves into lust which, in itself goes into more physical. In between Charlotte tantalises and plays along. Just to make things clear this is not a book about masculine power but rather all parties are guilty of breaking rules in this novel.
The book also functions as a coming of age. As Wade explores different aspects of sex: dating, visiting a sex worker, pleasuring oneself etc he discovers his own rules and boundaries. For Miguel, who has experienced all this, his relationship with Charlotte functions as filling a much needed void.
One could also see Perfettament Imperfetta as a commentary on Maltese youth: attitudes regarding schoolwork, clothes, towards dating and even gender. Kirsten Spiteri throws in a little bit extra as the setting is 2019/2020 – pre pandemic and pandemic Malta, in which he further goes into teens reactions to be in quarantine.
On the whole I enjoyed the book. I laughed at Wade’s way of thinking in the beginning, then when things got serious, it was done well. I felt that the structure was good, a bit unpredictable at times, which I appreciated. I thought the descriptions were great, (if you need someone to describe the lust a person has for a rear end look no further.) There’s quite a few taboo busters here, which is needed for Malta and the ending will get the reader thinking. For those on the rush it’s a relatively quick read as well. I am impressed.
Many thanks to Merlin for providing a copy of Perfetta Imperfetta