Summary: Loosely based in fact and family anecdote, "Parade (with fireworks)" gives us a tense and violent scene from post-WWI Italy and its shattering effect on one family. The parade is actually a group of Communist party musicians being escorted through town by the protagonist's brother and cousin, both of whom intend to protect them from a gang of Fascists. Of course, tempers flare and events spiral out of control with tragic consequences, leaving the hero in big trouble with the law.
Plot: The story is lightning-fast, perhaps a bit rushed in backstory and epilogue both. The rapid delivery works well for the parade and fight scenes, and makes the read a quick one.
Characters: Political tension ostensibly drives the plot, but the fiery tempers and hard heads of the characters are the true catalysts for action. Character development is not deep here. The men of the protagonist's family are hot-headed, and so are the members of the rival Fascist gang. After the conflict, the protagonist's strong-willed sister takes control of events, every bit as convinced of the superiority of her ideas as the male characters. Paolo (the hero) is never developed at all. He serves as an almost uninvolved narrator for much of the story.
Art: The vibrant artwork is terrific. Sun-washed and shadow-dappled by turns, the drawings pull the reader into the story. The mustaches alone are worth a glance.
Writing/Dialogue: The writing is terse and energetic, connecting the art and rolling the story forward. The author never indulges in musing or deep conversation between characters; this tale is meant to cut right to the quick.
Ending: The ending is likable enough, but like the characters, it isn't well-developed and feels pat and rushed.
What more did I want?: I didn't quite buy the ending, and I couldn't get attached to the protagonist since I didn't know much about him. Also, the cover of this book, while gorgeous, isn't related to the plot. If I pick up a book with a cover that shows an old man and his little grandson standing on a hill overlooking a green orchard, I do not expect the inside to contain a lot of violence and tragedy. I wish some foreboding symbolism had been worked into the picture.