Andrea Vitali introduces himself in the following manner…
Since I was young I felt the need to write, to use the written word as a means of communication with other people.
I realize that this is not a great confession, but there is no other way to try to explain how I managed to arrive to tell certain kind of stories.
At the beginning, writing was not conceived as a solitary exercise – no childhood diary nor at an older age for that matter – but it was rather an experience to share with others. In short, someone needed to read what I was writing.
My first shot came when I was around fifteen years old, disguised as a girlfriend, at whom, instead of talking, due to my inner shyness, I started writing passionate letters, of which I hope no trace remains today. The girl eventually found an other boyfriend, a practical type with not much familiarity with letters: he did, though, have a motorbike and that was enough to end our relationship. I suffered what was right, pouring my pain in heartbreaking poems, of which I do not know what have become today, but I do hope they ended up the same way the letters did. It is known that suffering strengthens and love pain at that young age is pure suffering.
A few years passed, feeling more uplifted I thought I could see clearly into my life and my future. I had found another girlfriend, I was attending a “Liceo Classico” – a high school specializing in classical studies – and I kept asking myself what I was supposed to do with this need to write, where was I supposed to address it. I finally understood. I was supposed to be a journalist. Easier said than done. It wasn’t that easy to tell my father that I, the first born, on whom he was betting more than one card, who, in fact, he let enroll in that school, wanted to be a journalist.
I tried anyway. I prepared a fine speech, thanks to my classical learnings, a logical argument that would have brought the loved and feared parent at my same conclusion: journalism was my profession. My father let me be, i.e., he let me speak. I talked for the quarter of an hour that my speech lasted, without interruptions. At the end, after a half a minute of silence, he replied: “No”.
My career as a journalist ended there. I continued my studies, went to university, even though that buried, daily, vibrant necessity to use writing for an end, never abandoned me.
And it was thanks to my father that in the end, I understood how I could use it.
It must be said that my father was a man of few words: home, work, television news and then to bed, where he often stayed up late reading. It was his habit, and with time it has become mine too. Every now and then, he allowed himself an indulgence. In that case he conversed a little more, he told childhood stories and adventures or stories that he had heard from others. It happened rarely, roughly every change of season. It was during one of these changes of season, from spring to summer, that the idea of writing my first novel came to me, “Il procuratore” – The prosecutor.
It was May 1988. We had just finished dining in the kitchen, but the door facing the terrace on the lake, left open, was letting in the dense odor of the still and dark water, invading the room, just as a spice does. It is a perfume that drugs, the summer lake’s. Rich, sometimes heavy. You have to know how to carry it, even how to endure it. I keep on experimenting it, many years later.
Drugs, because it amplifies sensations, expectations, or memories. If you are young, in short – and in 1988 I was – it instills confidence in the future, inviting you to look at it with courage. If your not young anymore – and my father at the time was 68 years old – it makes you indulge at the happy memories, it gives you the illusion you can regain your youth, the song you much loved, the profile of an old girlfriend and so on.
It was like this when my parent let himself go on the crest of this wave of memories and, since his generation’s life was sadly marked by war, he recounted war-time anecdotes. I recall the adventure of a salami set off with him from Bellano, to reach the island of Rhodes and ended up mysteriously, in the stomach of a cat; and the time he spent a long afternoon on the wing of a reconnaissance plane landed in open sea, due to a breakdown. There are, as you may see, no deaths or injuries: I don’t think my father ever had to fire a gun against someone, he went to war because he had to, like many others, and as many others, he returned with a bag full of stories that from time to time helped his children.
It happened in the same manner with the episode that originated “Il procuratore”. No trace of war appears in this novel: even though it happened during the second world war, it is also true that it falls in a sort of interval, i.e. during a leave of absence my father spent partially in Milan. There is no trace of the event itself, to be honest: rather its dynamic, the idea of the escape along a circular path, where at the end you’ll find yourself at the beginning point.
You see, “Il procuratore” was my starting point; 1988 was the year I started stealing stories just to return them on written paper. But it was as well the year I started thinking at the infinity of stories I had already heard and that were just waiting to be told.
Anecdotes, rumors, real and proper adventures that I had heard, often during the oceanic Christmas gatherings, from the lips of zia (aunty) Rosina, zia Eurasia, zia Mirandela, of zia Colomba, Cristina, Paolina and of zio (uncle) Esilio and many others, true and plausible characters of my life.
Ever since I have continued rethinking about those I already know, and continued to look for those I yet not know, and, truth be told, I have no intention to stop.