Boys Alive, published in 1955, was Pier Paolo Pasolini's first work of fiction and it remains his best known. Written in the aftermath of Pasolini's move from the provinces to Rome, the novel captures the. hunger and anger, waywardness and squalor of the big city. The life of the novel is the life of the city streets; from the streets, too, come its raw, mongrel, assaultive language. Here unblinkered realism and passionate lyricism meet in a vision of a vast urban inferno, blazing with darkness and light.
Boys Alive resists a certain kind of reader—I’m one, I confess—by offering a series of episodes rather than a single plot. Some of these anecdotes are sweet (if you’re the sort who is charmed by the dumb things kids the world over get up to) ... I found the author’s occasional descriptions of the boys herein, if not exactly chaste, almost touching.