Last Summer in the City or “Salinger Syndrome”

For nearly four decades, Gianfranco Caligariche seemed to amplify the ranks of writers suffering from “Salinger Syndrome,” scripturally anticipating Gambardella’s pocket in Italian culture. Like the protagonist in Sorrentino, from La Grande PlazaCalligarich first appeared at a young age – 26 – with a novel that quickly became a cult book, almost impossible to find in bookstores or antiques stores. Published 1973, Last summer in the city It has a fickle fate that the writer does not seek to control in any way, but only watches with the wonder of the artist who lets his work walk freely around the world. His literary beginning is exceptional, and the novel was received with unconvincing enthusiasm – Natalia Ginzburg and Cesar Garboli made him an honorable mention at the prestigious literary prize “L’Inedito”, which he also won, by the way. The initial print edition of 17,000 sold out in one summer, and with the later editions the novel’s very existence appears to have waned, sustained by discussions it evokes more than actual reading. A book, then, celebrated at all levels, which, subsequently, reigns in silence for decades, during which the audience is still waiting for the author’s second literary appearance.

It can be said that Gianfranco Calligarich suffers from the anxiety of the second book, which he always expects to confirm the success of the first book. Nothing can be wrong in this case, because the fate of our author, in turn, takes another street, moving away, at least outwardly and for a long time, from fiction, but not from writing or literature. Gianfranco Calligarich has become a bestselling TV screenwriter for Ray, writing the screenplay for productions appreciated by audiences and critics, at a time when television is experiencing years of glory and influence. Later, in the 90s, as soon as commercial television established itself without appeal, he decided to leave this medium forever. Thus he entered the world of theater and later became the founder of the Teatro del XX Secolo [Teatrul Secolului XX], in Rome. In 2010, the publishing house Aragno again published his first novel, which led to a new enthusiastic reception from the audience, surprised and happy (to re)discover such a literary gem. After this revival, the novel seems to disappear again from bookstore shelves and from the eyes of readers, which was brought out by the Pompani publishing house in 2016, the third edition that led to international recognition, with countless translations all over the world. Moreover, this period also coincides with Calligarich’s return to fiction writing and the publishing environment, and his books have continued to score visual critical success – he has won numerous awards, including the Viareggio Prize, in 2017, for the novel to the sadness of Crusich – And the audience.

Around Last summer in the city It was said to be a tale of complete disillusionment with the world, but the truth is that Leo Gazzara, Caligari’s antagonist Caligari hero, never remembers looking at the world with enchanted eyes. Instead, he knows exactly that he kept looking at her in his own way, watching her from the sidelines, because “Besides, that’s always the case. You do everything to stay away, and then one day, not knowing how, you find yourself in a story that takes you straight to the end.” From these first lines – one of those essential and significant beginnings, which remain an echo in the mind of the reader – unfold, like memories, the last five seasons through which the lion has crossed, and from which summer stands out in a special way. But all this time it could not exist outside the space it contains and distorts: Rome, the city par excellence, the eternal fortress, in the walls of which he lives his vocation of failure, gathers together remains Of all kinds that he wouldn’t breathe to make a full life.

Both Leo and Ariana – the fragile, beautiful and painfully, always capricious and unstable woman on whom he will hang his love, but not his hope – are from Venice for Rome, each coming from a different city, seeking in the eternal city nor I. You know very well what. The city to which all roads lead welcomes them and excludes them at the same time, and remains the only stubbornly possible option: “I have also realized that in spite of scattered jobs, and hungry weeks, and damp and dark hotel rooms, in yellow-washed and creaking furniture, as though slain and withered by Unknown liver disease, it was the only place I could live.” In almost every corner of Rome, Caligarich’s Rome reminds Fellini, but also of the indifference and boredom of Moravian novels, anticipating Sorrentino’s novels in La Grande Plaza. However, Calligarich builds his own protagonist in more substantial ways than Fellini’s (anti) hero. Unlike Marcello, Liu does not really try to adopt the job of a journalist, but only imitates it, very postmodern, either in writing for an obscure literary medical publication or copying articles written by others.

Moreover, Rome is the only vital and tangible gesture that Leo makes in building an authentic life, as he can completely penetrate it, letting go of the edge from which he looks at the world and his own path. It remains the only decision made and assumed until the last consequences, in many gestures taken in half, barely daring, stopping at the threshold, withdrawing, turning away from the road. A bright and exhausting, festive and decadent city of overwhelming beauty, beneath it itself groans and sighs in the wee hours of the night. A sunny and stifling city, a stifling city of visible social strata, of fallen nobility and a decadent bourgeoisie, whose representatives were “petty and self-confident. They would crush people with a line and then pass for the moment, heading for the first armchair that came their way.” And because that was his only choice made. Executed to the end, it can be said that the true pair of heroes was formed by Leo and Roma, a couple that Ariana would enter into their intimate relationship with a promise of change, and an authentic experience – precisely because of this, with the possibility of transformation – only to emerge as hope carried by the wind and adding to an infinity streak. Her nods are half leftovers.

The city pulsates with eternal and dazzling energy, but Leo remains apathetic, reminiscent in many ways of protagonist Mario Vargas Llosa in Conversation in the cathedrala novel that was translated into Italian just two years before Gianfranco Caligarich’s literary debut.

Leo is Zavalita by inviting failure – which they both share – and each time he chooses to look at the world (and life) from the sidelines. But, if Santiago Zavala was the one who pushed him over the edge, disillusioned and disillusioned with the atrocities that touched both his country and his family, then that time suspended, as if without a date, is what brings Leo out of the field from work and construction, which made him an observer, not an actor, ‘for, though we did not know it, we were born when old and beautiful Europe was its most obvious, precise, and definitive attempt at suicide. But, [am fost copii] Destructive people or destructive people. My father was the most desperate in history.”

In the loneliness that often attacks him, Leo shares the call to failure with a number of characters: starting with his father, who is grinding down history with his world war inside, though he leaves him alive, and continuing with his best friend, the artist Graziano has gone missing. . Castelvecchio – who ended up communicating even with the bitter experience of impotence – with Rosario, the associate from the editorial office Corriere dello Sportand, to some extent, Ariana, with her countless failed attempts: seriously studying architecture, loving unconditionally, and committing suicide. In the same show director Corrado enters, “A desperate man like you has seldom met. Everyone who met him would offer him a drink and greet him as if he were a good friend, but as soon as he turned his back on them, they would smile, for though he was the greatest TV director ever Except that he was the only one who could enter the chief’s office without knocking on the door, and everyone also knew that he was dead, and even the dogs greeted him that way.”

Calligarich captures by primary means—which Cerasela Barbone’s translation into Romanian makes it exquisitely precise and fluid—the sense of frustration, helplessness, confusion, and bitterness that characterizes the end of the turbulent sixties, which he transforms into a timeless, recognizable state today, fifty years later. Thus, the writing of his youth is connected to a kind of subterranean current Zeitgeist Minor or upside down, perhaps not so much related to particular eras, but to each generation, among its members, few will interpret this spirit, and embody it.

And above all, the unit is hovering. Untreated loneliness, which August, with the abandonment of Rome and tours so early, became the favorite symbol. The unity that the presence of the other accentuates, from the desired and the dream, only, as in “The moment when I found out that two people make more peace than one.” A gesture, instinctively, but, in the words of Cesare Pavese, a job that Leo will never be able to master. He lives as if in a time loop, in which history is pushed with its twists to the edge of thought, shrouded in the glare of an economic mirage. But on the same edge, Leo is also found with a crowd of New World misfits: “And we both stayed that way for a long time: She is in the shade and I smell the oranges left on my fingertips and looking at the flow of the world on its banks we clung to.” When Leo decides not to sit on the ledge anymore, he will go deeper into the sea, restraining himself ad litteram Favorite books at his feet, the only ones that accompanied him from room to room, from city to city, diluted the temporal with their imaginative worlds.

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