The sealed fate of those “children of nails”


By John

They are, in their own way, tragic “heroes” of a daily life of violence, the characters of «The children of nails» (Vallecchi), a novel by Alessandro Morbidelli from the Marche region, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Poliarte of Ancona and writer of stories often set in a heavy and gloomy darkness, which, however, between fatality and necessity, open up to a glimmer of hope: that of being able to decide about one's own future, of being able to redeem oneself from a destiny of shared hatred, although the responsibility of choice means risk and more pain.

They are looking for an opening in the friendship that bound them as children: Cosimo and Mina, brother and sister, children of the leaders, and Sergio, Carlino and the beautiful Rosa, children of the latter. But the “magic” of childhood games, although already teetering on the abyss, marked as it is by hours in which clouds gather, bickering, family torments and dark days, ends in 1989, when in a Gargano Puglia unfortunate, in the shadow of mafia feuds, in the violent light of a summer, the brutality of adults makes them become “children of nails”: each of them owns the nail, symbol of affiliation with the clan and of the violence that bound Christ to Cross.

The sins of the fathers fall on the children who must carry the burden of the “kingdom” to be perpetuated: therefore Cosimo must “reign” and thirty years later, with a life dissipated amidst violence, he must settle accounts with an eternal enemy of his father: the Dragon, also a fatal “king” of existences. So he finds himself in Milan, a guest of a hotel owned by the family he has to exterminate, and there the days pass between memories that take him back to that last “innocent” summer of 1989 while he lives in a present void of desires over which the “duty” of revenge. Loneliness haunts him, but life, the elsewhere just imagined are represented by the innocence of little Giacomo, progeny of that cursed lineage to be destroyed, and by the empathy shown to him by the child; but in the meantime Cosimo is a prisoner without escape of the monstrosity that unites him and Sergio, and Carlino and Rosa, already victims “of those who have become monsters worthy of commanding other monsters”.

Morbidelli's books (since 2020 president of the jury of the Città di Grottammare literary competition and artistic director of the Lacrima in Giallo Festival) are often choral noirs, everyday stories in which the loss of innocence and the transition to a dark adult condition it involves everyone, victims and executioners, poised between good and evil.