“I am who I am and that’s all I am. Popeye always says so”.
It must be said that we don’t know if this Nori would like a review so much. Because writing about him knows so much about the need to give an understandable form to the things that happen, little about “I want to know what you think”. Yet in publishing a book there is a bit of this risk, that everyone wants to have their say, even going back to finding pages written twenty-odd years ago. Those pages in which Togliatti and Battaglia did not yet live, in which a name was not enough to fill the halls, those pages in which, finally, the beginnings know of the beginning and of things to come.
Newcomer Nori’s novel is the most honest we’ve read in recent years: an honesty that, to tell the truth, was never lost even in later works, whether they were essays, tales full of autobiography, but also prefaces, readings, translations. Dealing with him, one gets the impression of recovering that crumb of the essential that makes up our going out into the world. He writes, at one point: “Nihilists have no masters, they don’t believe in tradition, they re-verify everything from scratch”. Getting to know Learco Ferrari, a minimally disguised literary alter ego, we find ourselves face to face with the reverification of ordinary life, all made up of idiosyncrasies and the gestures that make them up, honest gestures and, before being just), dignified. And dignity is restored to him by irony and the light-hearted voice, which notes and does not comment on a certain way of carrying on life, as if to say, things speak for themselves if we let them breathe (wise Giovanna, we don’t have friends like that there are so many). As much as he clings to that precise, unshakeable way of saying things, we glimpse all the care, attention, passion for words, for their meaning, stripped or stripped of everything we usually stick on them, without really add nothing, for an entirely academic taste of complicating them. If Nori teaches, he does it in this sense: in the sense of surrender, of palms turned to the sky. It’s not that we should all write like him, but we need to remain faithful to our voice, reduce it to a minimum so as not to be the first to betray it. In doing so, words, even for someone who eats them, breathes them, respects them (above all), recover their specific weight and we together with them. We think about it in comparison with the words we have chosen, which are those and not others, just as we are in one place and not in another, just as we believe in one truth and not another.
If after reading “Things are not things” we pick up “Bassotuba isn’t there”, we have the impression of continuing to walk with the same friend along the same road, the landscape around us slowly changes, every now and then we he stops to look at the steps taken, runs away a little discouraged but what can you do, hands in his pockets and he continues to go, one step after another, to see what happens next.
More than anything against any devastating current, we recognize in this voice a simplification that does not want to be banal: no banality in facing the days with the voices above your head that tell you “you’re shit, you’re shit!”, while you try to capture meanings that escape, that don’t know you too straight, to be honest. That perhaps there is another way of clinging to that reality which cannot be explained or interpreted – which also makes us panic a little: with palms up knowing that everyone is what they are. And, as Guccini sang, fuck all the rest.
Written by Delis
Paolo Nori, Le cose non sono cose, Fernandel, Ravenna, 1999