Storm mother

Gianni Solla
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“If you can write something, then that means you can understand it.”

At St. Sophia Institute, Jacopo is the only boy in the class, and at eight years old his relationship with women is already complicated. Beginning with the one with his mother, who makes him memorize verses from Majakovsky, put out cigarette butts in dishes and is consumed by the will to live. It is clear to the school sisters that that girl with the too-short shirt is at the root of Jacopo’s behaviors: taciturn, far too interested in his classmates’ legs, and especially fixated on writing. Her essays, which always feature her as the main character, make the rounds of the school. His mother and father do not live together but have never stopped arguing furiously, she in Italian and he in Neapolitan, he a butcher and she a secretary at Brahms music editions. One night, Jacopo and the secretary – that’s what he calls his mother – move squatters into a tenement building in the Rione delle mosche: two envelopes, a box, and a school bag as their only luggage. The elevator doesn’t work and the bathroom has no door, but there is only one bed to sleep in: if Jacopo had to choose a perfect time in his life, he would point to that one. His father’s butcher’s shop is also in the ward, and in the afternoons Jacopo locks himself in the cold storage room filling sheets to wrap the meat with words. Jacopo’s is a failed sentimental education, and reading it often escapes a laugh. One disastrous encounter after another, until the ultimate catastrophe: the meeting with Veronica, a master of wonder and escape. A bitter, ironic, abrasive novel that reveals a new voice of unusual freshness, in which smiles and emotion coexist on every page. Gianni Solla makes a place for himself among writers capable of facing pain head-on, with great confidence in literature.