«Marabbecca», that woman made of darkness. Like us


By John

Where is Igor now, the man Clotilde loved and feared? Igor and Clotilde had a car accident and ended up in hospital: she was only injured, he was in a coma. In the ward Clotilde meets Angelica, the girl who caused the accident with her scooter. And she falls in love with it. Reciprocated. After a while Igor comes out of the coma, but he is no longer the same as before: the accident has transformed him into a child who needs to be fed. Thus is born an unexpected and unusual ménage à trois: Clotilde, Angelica and Igor under the same roof seek the naked truth of everyday life within a magical and claustrophobic space. Between lies and truth, between necessity and inconsistencies, everyday life in the house is obsessed, protected and threatened by the Marabbecca, «personification in Sicilian folklore of darkness and the dangers of the unconscious».

Who is «Marabbecca», the title of Viola Di Grado's new novel just published by La Nave di Teseo (and proposed to Strega by Daria Bignardi)? The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Clotilde, explains it: «A woman made of darkness, who emerges from the darkness to transform you into darkness too. (…) I imagined it shapeless, like a shadow. Peasant mothers invented her to prevent their children from falling into wells: she was there where she lived, black in black, in silence, waiting for life, for a body to be destroyed.” Viola Di Grado also in this novel puts her poetic vision before the complexity of the world. And this is good for us readers, because, while avoiding any form of categoricality, it shows us a way out, a principle of understanding, a shortcut to the truth and not a path interrupted by mediocrity and the limits of reasoning.

The key word in his literature becomes «lying»: «Lying is like driving a car, once you have learned the gesture you do it automatically. Lying takes you everywhere, at a hundred miles an hour, until you hit a wall…”. There is little hope in Viola Di Grado's novels. Clotilde confesses at a certain point: «Those who return to Sicily due to misfortune always end up staying. Impossible to restart. The misfortune is reabsorbed but you yourself become the misfortune: a confused creature claimed by the landscape, by this indolent island. You become a walking wound.” Here, the characteristic of Viola Di Grado's narrative is that of going straight to the goal, without many frills, without any strenuous and useless search to find literature somewhere in everyday life. In her books there is what could be described as an investigator who needs to investigate (not a simple storyteller therefore), who goes in search of the mystery: and the mystery is us.

Like when the protagonist of her previous novel, «Blue Hunger», discovers that being loved means being devoured: «… when she finished undressing me and said I love you, I knew full well that it wasn't for me, that it was a phrase for others or of others , the impersonal echo of a memory, like the acid light that remains on the retina for an instant after seeing a strong light…”. Well, even in «Marabbecca» we are enchanted by the tale of a love story, a true metaphor of how the desperate search to take possession of another person, ends up being swallowed up by the other person, as in a continuous reversal of the domination-submission, in the obsessive rhythm of an incessant exchange of roles between executioner and victim: «How did she always manage to be so cheerful, to remain balanced on the surface of life, without falling down? Her cheerfulness was a mystery and it was my slavery.”