Fabio Luppino’s singular non-novel: losers, not defeated. And there is still hope in the future to be invented.


By John

Who knows what those days are. Who knows what hope animates those pages, which even speak almost exclusively of defeats. Who knows why, at the end of the book the author manages to convince us that it is possible to start again, re-establish, create the future. He is Fabio Luppino, Roman journalist (of Calabrian ancestry) long-term professional who has seen and done everything about the profession: 25 years at Unità, of which, above all, he experienced the last, frenetic transformations and the end, a deskist but also a correspondent (in the former Yugoslavia), columnist of the paper but also an online wizard (he has worked at the Huffington Post since 2018). And he talks about how journalism has transformed and is transforming – like our lives, like politics – in his latest book, «Those days will return» (Santelli). Even that beyond and forward, halfway between narration and pamphlet, between generational tale and personal indictment on time and times, between invention and document.
The book in which Luppino touches one by one all the sensitive chords of a couple of generations escapes any classification: the personal is political, but we are now in the era in which the political becomes personal, indeed individual, from “one is worth one” to person-parties (which are things much closer to each other than they seem). There are at least forty years of Italian history – and of our intimate and shared history – in the four chapters of the book. Four plus a note. But, even here, the definitions are not enough: it is not a postscript, it is a fragment of metanarrative, stuck between personal memory and collective memories, and concerns the cover photo. It was taken in October 1993 by Alberto Pais, at a trade union demonstration in Rome, where Luppino was present: two demonstrators, on the ground, hugging each other in the midst of tear gas.
Here, in that shot – casual yet sought after, immediate yet thoughtful – many things are condensed that this book, which transcends genres, talks about: the history, collective and personal, of those who believed and believe that “freedom is participation”, and which opposes to violence the most human and most “right” thing there is, that is, protecting each other, taking care of others. Which isn’t weakness, it’s love. Which is not surrender, it is peaceful resistance (then a word adored these days was not used: resilience).
Throughout the book the stories of five women intertwine, on different temporal planes – but in consciousness there are no temporal planes: everything is present and produces effects – the 80s and 90s, the “Panther” era and then the new millennium, the sharp turn in politics, in the media. The crisis of the left, the spiral that nothing really seems to reverse. And the dilemmas and crises of those who have to tell the story of reality, and every day they measure themselves with the need to faithfully represent reality – which is already an arduous task – and also to prefigure the future (I deliberately use the same word as Nanni Moretti’s latest film, which talks about very similar things, and as always intertwines the personal and the political exactly as they are intertwined in our lives, even those who don’t know it or don’t want it).
Giovanna, Ginevra, Alice, Francesca, Giulia are dazzling women, who choose, want, insist, and even if they lose they are never defeated, even if they have points of fragility they do not give in. The women, in Luppino’s book, take all the initiatives – the relational counterpoint to the epochal events that they experience and that some of them tell for a living. And the men they deal with, invariably, disappoint, brood, build alibis and bulkheads, and eclipse themselves. Women are a wonderful force to behold, constructed on the page with a trembling respect, and I believe Luppino has written a profoundly feminist book.
Just as, denouncing the media crisis, he told, without ever naming it but calling some of the protagonists of his last season by name and surname, the story of “Unity” from within, as no one had yet told it. And in doing so you summarized what journalism can and must be like today. In the era in which we have the most fantastic technological resources and the greatest ethical uncertainties.
«Reality is a mosaic of small things and every corner where there is a man has reason to be represented», says Giovanna at a certain point. And in these days, faced with a war that is very difficult to talk about, faced with a humanity that asks us to be represented on every front, these words touch us very much.
Luppino never lets his self-criticism turn into bitterness, that his disappointment turns into pessimism, that the battles lost by his and our generation convince us that history is over. “We are not at the end of the story, even if it is convenient for some to say so.” The girls and boys will save us, says Luppino. And with them, thanks to them those days will return.