A Review of Reset by Paolo Pergola
Words By Ally Geist
Published October 1, 2021 by Sagging Meniscus Press.
Reset by Paolo Pergola is an engaging exploration of what it means for your life to be put on hold in an instant, forcing you to critique your existence and your society. Most of the book takes place in a hospital room where the protagonist, Lapo Pardini, has spent months recovering from a serious car accident. A morose scientific researcher, Lapo experiences significant memory loss after the accident and as his memories return, he is able to examine them. In the hospital, most of his days consist of counting ceiling tiles and contemplating his life and his choices. Reset is a stunning exposé of the chaos and angst associated with being human. Lapo outwardly expresses what is often in many of our hearts. Somehow, this book made me want to cry, laugh, scream, and breathe a sigh of relief all at the same time.
Despite the fact that Lapo is trapped in a hospital bed for over a hundred pages, the book feels action-packed. Pergola takes readers on a cerebral journey chapter after chapter. In a way, it’s more exciting than if we constantly witnessed a changing location. Since most of the narrative exists in Lapo’s head, readers must connect with him on an intimate level. Even the conversations he has with others are told to us through his perspective. This narrative style creates tension as readers empathize with, cheer on, and grow frustrated with Lapo throughout his recovery.
While Reset is about new beginnings after Lapo’s accident, it feels timely in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the book, we see Lapo become disenchanted with the “outside world” and all the conversations and elements of day-to-day life that feel pointless. Lapo insightfully expresses “I do like living, but I want to stop doing, I just want to think, to remember.” He doesn’t want to split his time between responsibility and enjoyment. As we all process what has happened in the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it almost feels like we’re waking up. As Lapo questions the life he was suddenly snapped out of, I couldn’t help but recognize those feelings in myself and in my peers as we examine the way our lives used to be and question where we’d like to go next. All the pressure for him to suddenly resume life after this accident, after just getting his memories back, is overwhelming. It kind of feels that way for us too in this next phase of the pandemic.
Throughout Reset, we see Lapo remember all the dreams he once had and didn’t pursue. We see him question the decisions he did make and whether he likes the life that he had before the accident. While reading the book, I sometimes wanted to take Lapo’s side, as I felt like the other characters only offered mundane conversations. At other times, I couldn’t help but be frustrated with Lapo’s lack of drive or enthusiasm. I was surprised at how many different emotions and thoughts the author was able to pull out of me in such a short time.
The narrative itself flows beautifully. It’s rare to encounter a book in which it feels like every sentence serves a purpose. Paolo Pergola skillfully gives readers a book that is engaging right to the end, without that common lull in the middle of the book. However, I did find myself wishing for more insight into certain character relationships, like how Lapo’s relationship with his wife, his colleagues, and his friends had changed since the accident. It felt like some threads were left untied at the end of the book, but overall, it was a very satisfying read. If you are looking for a book to captivate you, move you, and make you think about things in a different way, this is definitely one to pick up off the shelf.