In June 2007 I was twenty and I was in Sardinia, at the Gavoi literary festival, at a table of mostly unknown writers and writers for me. Taken individually, they were all delicious and kind, but taken as a whole the experts – I believe it is worth in any field, but in the editorial one more – have the ability to regress to a prepubertal age. A forty-year-old woman, a freelance editor of a well-known best seller, was sitting between Giorgio Faletti and me when, assuming that slightly Chinese expression with narrow eyes and a furrowed brow that I have now learned to recognize, yes he literally shouted: “Now have you seen this new Einaudi freestyle? Come on, the one who writes I said at the head, Letizia Muratori ». “In what sense did he say in charge?” I asked. «The captions. When it makes a dialogue, for example, “How are you Sempronio?”, after the question mark she goes to the top and writes with a capital letter “. In front of the large D that the woman carved into the void, Faletti snorted, then softly grabbed her ringed hand. «Madam, excuse me, but will not be his dicks if this writer wants to write them going to head? We are at dinner, just talk about work ». It is an episode without which I would never have rushed to readLife in common, then the second novel by Letizia Muratori, and perhaps I would not have discovered this extraordinary writer so soon. In eleven years Letizia has produced a lot, in addition to the two novels, Einaudi has published five more with Adelphi, one more unique and intelligent than the other. His latest book, Spifferi(The Nese di Teseo), is a collection of short stories: mediums, possessed telephones, incendiary, inside there are all the fetishes of the genus. Even if the topics covered range from immigration to homosexual parenting and, like every time that Letizia tells us a story – whether it be of cabbage dolls or domestic animals – we see everything clearly, even if it is almost impossible to understand what. Born in Rome in 1972, the culmination of Muriel Spark, passionate about mesmerism, before starting to write Letizia needs to take long walks and stop at the bar to reflect. Next, to the bed, he has always hung a small painting depicting a somnambulist advancing spirited with a lit lamp. He is his guardian angel. “I abandoned that trademark, those,” he said at the head ” when they started to get bored”, he tells me on the phone, “but also out of spite, I tell you the truth when the editors started getting used to it. You have no idea how initially in some areas a little bit traditional and “masters”, let’s say, editing was not welcome: the kind of professionalism that anti-Severino Cesari is, so to speak ».
In what sense?
Severino never exposed his idea of history and style, he always bothered to understand what he had on his hands.
Cesari was your “discoverer”, wasn’t it?
It was the hot summer of 2003 when with his enigmatic and unsettling kindness he asked me for a story for the anthology Girls you should know. He had read my poems and told me they had a narrative potential. He gave me an opportunity and, believing in him more than in me, I wrote “Saro and Sara”. He was a true predator if he sniffed prey he wouldn’t let it go. And do you know what prey was for him?
A book whose first intuition was the first. Then he began to follow your work without imposing anything, without addressing you, his task was to witness the emergence of a story with a seriousness that sometimes, believe me, left you speechless. During the work you could call him at all hours, he was there listening to you and it seemed that in his life there was nothing else but this task to complete. Obviously it was not so, he had so many books to follow, and still amazes me the ability he had to make all of us, his authors, unique. He knew how to deal with people, he managed to bring out the best, but always in his original, mysterious and acute way, which had nothing clever.
So, before starting with Einaudi, did you write poetry? What else did you do?
I didn’t have the vocation to be a writer, that’s for sure. As a child I wanted to be a professor, the bookseller, the singer, I liked writing only because I was good, much better than now. If I published my elementary subjects, they would be a resounding success. I read poetry, I wrote it, but then at some point, I stopped. Today I am especially interested in Silvia Bre, whom I love.
What did you study?
Theatre, but I worked in a movie magazine that made pure information, cards and interviews, even trade. I frequented the radical cinephile environment because I worked with Close-up, a magazine directed by Giovanni Spagnoletti. I was there, taking care of the theatre and keeping a satire column, I didn’t dare to review anything. It was a nice group, the one that circulated around Close-up. I am thinking of Serafino Murri, Roberto Pisoni, Luca Franco, Stefano Cappellini, the very intelligent Francesca Vatteroni, Roberta Saiardi. Luca Guadagnino was also there.
So it is not a coincidence that in Spifferi’s stories you can feel your passion for cinema very much, more than in your other books …
The cinema has exalted me for a long time, I felt the excitement especially in those years. It was a really nice moment. To bring me back down to earth, Michele Anselmi thought about it from time to time. Friend of Spagnoletti, but critically aligned at the antipodes: Michele was a militant anti-threadbearer, inclined towards the mainstream as well as Bruno Dumont’s rough cinema. He passed for being a reactionary, he pissed everyone off and even today I think this is his hobby, besides country music. I owe him a lot, he believed first in my poems, he encouraged me a lot. With him, I met the whole band of the Unit, Alberto Crespi, Cristiana Paternò, Toni Jop, Stefania Scateni, Fernanda Alvaro. Finally, I had my magazine of information, Primissima, where I worked for years, supported by that saint by Piero Cinelli. Speaking of cinema, Matteo Codignola also gave me a nice cleanup, one of the many things that were and still is for me, Matteo was my guide to the secrets of Old Hollywood.
And did you think of any film, in particular, writing these stories?
Many Japanese horror films. In the story “This is the Bulgarian rose”, then, the ending is very influenced by a sequence that, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful in recent years: I am talking about the film Ida, directed by Paweł Pawlikowski. There is something big about that death. So I was inspired by this sudden, natural suicide scene. I left the cinema knowing that on that gesture, so clear, unexpected and frighteningly true, I would sooner or later write a story. So it was.
Why are your stories?
When Nuovi Argomenti asked me for a story on the subject of the ghost I immediately said yes, generally I like working on commission. I didn’t think a book would come out until, after writing the first one, I felt it wasn’t enough, there was more, and I went ahead. They are in fact stories, but they are six and they could not have been five or twenty. I mean that what holds them together for me is not so much the theme, nor the collected form, but the measure: the certainty of having declined that matter as far as was necessary.
These ghosts appear more than anything else to counterbalance the sense of extraneousness of the characters in flesh and blood, very often foreigners in Italy or Italians abroad. Or am I wrong?
I subscribe: yes, but mostly foreign ghosts. I could not have found a better way to define them. For the rest, I’m a reader of horror stories, very faithful to the rules of the genre: as a reader, reading Spifferi (a title I owe to Livia Signorini), I’m sure I’d be furious. But if the reader can afford the luxury of being conservative, the writer does not. Never.
I hate the word autofiction, but you practised it for a while, didn’t you? Although in a very different way from others. Perhaps yours should be called a forgery. These stories, given that they speak of ghosts, can we consider a return to true fiction?
Also for me, the expression autofiction is vaguely repugnant. The idea then that one “auto tarocchi” the biography is even a little compassion, yet it is what happens, that many do, including myself. For the writer, there is an unquestionably amusing side in recomposing himself on the scene with grafts, I understand less those who are preparing to read autofiction. The autofiction of another I would not even read paid, the self-intervention has a therapeutic vocation that leaves me indifferent. While falsification is another story, it is a sophisticated art, above all, it requires a certain taste.
Why do you think the therapeutic idea of writing is so popular?
Well, it is identical to that of recognizing oneself as cathartic in the common bad luck or in the shouted cynicism but in a manner. The books are full of bad subjects who ask to be forgiven, of giant losers who know a lot about it. I don’t know, it’s all so self-fulfilling and comforting. In short, to write autofiction (finding him possibly another name) one must have the true talent of a forger, which is not so common.
And why not?
Because you don’t write in anything, but in life, and this appears on the page, lets you use it and vice versa it consumes you.