Excerpt from I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

I'm Not Scared

by Niccolò Ammaniti

I'm Not Scared
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 200 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2004, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


A great big dog, all skin and bone, barked on a chain.

Behind the house were some corrugated iron huts and the pigsties, on the edge of a gravina.

Gravinas are small canyons, long crevasses dug by the water in the rock. White spires, rocks and pointed crags protrude from the red earth. Inside, twisted olive trees, arbutuses and holly often grow, and there are caves where the shepherds put their sheep.

Melichetti looked like a mummy. His wrinkled skin hung off him, and he was hairless, except for a white tuft in the middle of his chest. Round his neck he had an orthopaedic collar fastened with green elastic bands, and he was wearing black shorts and brown plastic flipflops.

He had seen us arrive on our bikes, but he didn't move. We must have seemed like a mirage to him. Nobody ever passed by on that road, except the occasional truck carrying hay.

There was a smell of piss. And millions of horseflies. They didn't bother Melichetti. They settled on his head and round his eyes, like they do on cows. Only if they got on his lips did he react, puffing them away.

Skull stepped forward. 'Signore, we're thirsty. Have you got any water?'

I was worried, because a man like Melichetti was liable to shoot you, throw you to the pigs, or give you poisoned water to drink. Papa had told me about a guy in America who had a pond where he kept crocodiles, and if you stopped to ask him the way he would ask you in, knock you on the head and feed you to the crocodiles. And when the police had come, rather than go to prison he had let his pets tear him to pieces. Melichetti could easily be that sort of guy.

The old man raised his sunglasses. 'What are you doing here, kids? Aren't you a bit far from home?'

'Signor Melichetti, is it true you fed your dachshund to the pigs?' Barbara piped up.

I could have died. Skull turned and gave her a glare of hatred. Salvatore kicked her in the shin.

Melichetti burst out laughing, had a fit of coughing and nearly choked. When he had recovered he said: 'Who tells you these daft stories, little girl?'

Barbara pointed at Skull: 'He does!'

Skull blushed, hung his head and looked at his shoes.

I knew why Barbara had said it.

A few days earlier we had had a stone-throwing competition and Barbara had lost. As a forfeit Skull had ordered her to unbutton her shirt and show us her breasts. Barbara was eleven. She had a small bosom, just flea-bites, nothing to what she would have in a couple of years' time. She had refused. 'If you don't, you can forget about coming with us any more,' Skull had threatened her. I had felt bad about it, the forfeit wasn't fair. I didn't like Barbara, as soon as she got the chance she would try to pull a fast one on you, but showing her tits, no, that seemed too much.

Skull had decided: 'Either show us your tits or get lost.'

And Barbara, without a word, had gone ahead and unbuttoned her shirt.

I couldn't help looking at them. They were the first tits I had seen in my life, except for mama's. Maybe once, when she had come to stay with us, I had seen my cousin Evelina's, she was ten years older than me. Anyway, I had already formed an idea of the sort of tits I liked, and Barbara's I didn't like at all. They looked like scamorzas, folds of skin, not much different from the rolls of fat on her stomach.

Barbara had been brooding on that episode and now she meant to get even with Skull.

'So you go around telling people I fed my dachshund to the pigs.' Melichetti scratched his chest. 'Augustus, that dog was called. Like the Roman emperor. Thirteen he was, when he died. Got a chicken bone stuck in his throat. Had a Christian funeral, proper grave and all.' He pointed his finger at Skull. 'I bet you're the oldest, aren't you, little boy?'

Excerpted from I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti. Copyright Niccolò Ammaniti 2002 all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Canongate Publishing. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

Translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home: but unlike charity, it should end there.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.