Calabria “remembered” by Fausto Vitaliano


By John

«I like detective stories and the narrative mechanism that leads to the revelation of the truth. Literature, even high literature, is always an investigation with mystery at its center. In this book of mine I have added a theme very dear to me, that of family, and the stratification of secrets that exist in all families, including mine.”

The novel he talks about Fausto Vitaliano, Calabrian from Olivadi (CZ), Milanese by existential choice, multifaceted writer and author for radio, TV and newspapers, screenwriter of comics and cartoons for Disney and Rainbowis «The Way of the Wolf» (Bompiani) which, after the conclusion of the trilogy with the disenchanted marshal Gori Misticò, marks a narrative passage, even if the comic-humorous-linguistic stylistic features (including the never decorative use of the lexicon Calabrian) are unchanged.
A beautiful and ferocious Calabria, mother and stepmother, honest and «'ndrangatusa» (“an island of beauty created by God – Vitaliano quotes Leonida Repaci – but in which the devil, envious of so much beauty, decided to inflict a series of suffering on it”) which is also at the center of this new “recherche” in memory , painful but necessary to open up to love and save oneself, through the narrative voice of the solitary Americo. «Mystery writer of poor fortune», for Americo going to live in rented accommodation in Milan in the house of the elderly and forgetful widow Agostina and falling in love with the wise Siobhan becomes the means to travel back in the history of the family, follow the path «of the wolf», to go to the moment «that precedes the big bang, the one that precedes the birth of everything. Where does Americo have to go to understand what kind of man he is.”

Fausto, we left Gori Misticò ill in the latest investigations of «Mezzaluna di sand»…
«My intentions weren't born as a serial character, and in agreement with the publisher he had a narrative arc of three novels or four at most in which he said what he had to say. The trilogy has remained in the hearts of many, but I believe that one of the author's duties is to respect the pact with the reader and also the pact between the author himself and the character. It wasn't easy to walk away from him, I left him in a sort of middle ground where we don't know what happened to him, I like to think that he got away with it: he deserves it.”
While Misticò returns to Calabria, Americo goes to Milan. What character is Americo?
«In some ways similar to Mistico, because he too suffers from the lack of roots and at the same time from the desire to have them. In a certain sense he too is torn from his land like many other Calabrians who have been transplanted from somewhere else in the world, including me, but he does not translate this separation with the languor that Misticò has. Americo does not suffer from this nostalgia for the land because he thinks that his land has rejected him. He creates an overlap, if we can say so, between his family history, between his mother's history and Calabria.”
And in fact Verena, Americo's mother, beautiful and mysterious, victim and guilty, is the metaphor of Calabria, as you yourself write.
«It's like this. In my books I have always put a love song for my land; I am as happy to be Calabrian as I am to live in Milan. Milan is my city, I always say, but Calabria is my land. But in this book there is also the other aspect of my feeling towards my land, not of resentment, that would be excessive, but of a bit of resentment that is renewed especially when one returns even for a short time, as often happens in myself. Even if Calabria certainly didn't chase us away, we were forced to leave.”
This novel is a novel about family. There is the biological family that can be ferocious or distracted, and then there is the family that you choose or happen to you by chance that opens you up to love.
«Yes, and it is also a reflection on how memory, in addition to love, can save us on the one hand and damn us on the other. As with Agostina, a character I love very much, an elderly lady who is losing her memory of herself and the people who loved her, due to one of the most unfair illnesses that can happen. But she doesn't want to leave this world having lost the memory of the man she loved and on the other side of her Americo would like to lose her memory of her. And instead Agostina makes him understand that through memory we recover love and through love we are saved, there are no other possibilities for all of us.”
There are many transversal stories in this book, but what is the common thread that holds them together?
«The common thread is the question: do we want to know who we have been and what our life has been or are we satisfied with the story of what has been? That's all, there is no right answer, it's a matter of choice. For a whole part of the book Americo chooses not to know, but when he meets Siobhan, cornered because otherwise she wouldn't know what to do with him, she decides to know or at least go and look for an answer.”
You get Siobhan to say that books aren't that different from a well-known puzzle game: it's about filling in the blanks.
«The good mystery writer builds a network of dots to join or spaces to blacken and he will make you blacken the last space right on the last page. The metaphor Siobhan uses is that life works more or less the same way: it's like a white space in which there are boxes to blacken, but something always pops out. We know some things about ourselves, others we believe we know and others have been told to us. It is up to us to put all these stories together and create our own narrative, the one that seems most satisfying to us and which does not necessarily have to have adherence to the truth. More important is loyalty, which Americo must recover; he who thinks he is innocent and that those around him are to blame, discovers that this is not the case, he too has the faults, like all of us.”