Pain Doesn’t Exist

“My father’s name is Achille and he doesn’t talk to me”: this story begins like this, with an interrupted dialogue between a father and a daughter. Achille was a charismatic father, with whom Ilaria as a girl shared passions, ideas about life and the world, but also fierce quarrels and great silences. Until, without a trigger or obvious fault, the silence swallowed all. Achille stopped looking for her, stopped responding to her phone calls and letters. Perhaps, he has decided to stop being her father.

But Ilaria does not want to stop being a daughter; she needs an explanation, to understand where the first crack has opened. Therefore, with the reluctant help of the rest of the family, she tries to retrace their history and her father’s life, to reconstruct his identity by fragments. It is her way of continuing to talk to him, to hang out with him, but also a ritual to train herself for loss: of a father, of youth, of the past, and of a teenage son who is growing up fast and who day by day holds her hand less and less and believes her inventions and words less and less.

At the same time, almost by chance, during the pandemic Ilaria begins to practice boxing. And one day, certainly not by chance, she remembers that her father also used to box, in fact he was quite good at it. Many years before, he gave her a pair of gloves. This can only be a sign: perhaps her father is training her in absence to make her stronger? So, partly believing it really, partly because she is a writer and the narrative opportunity is irresistible, she invites him to a challenge in the ring. She lets him know the day and place of the match, and although he doesn’t respond, part of her hopes and believes he will show up anyway.

And as she practices giving and receiving phantom punches and consults trainers of all kinds – as well as writers, scientists, filmmakers, ancestors, shamans, and a few animals – she gathers the strength to step into the ring and the words to write pages that are exciting, comic, and full of life. An autobiographical novel, a philosophical and intimate investigation of family, love, and nostalgia, Il dolore non esiste is a luminous mantra for trying to celebrate everything, even what hurts.