A quarrelsome family and the right number of pages, gifts of a good novelist. The new book by Marco Archetti

A quarrelsome family and the right number of pages, gifts of a good novelist.  The new book by Marco Archetti

In "La luce naturale" (just released for Mondadori) the writer leads his story with great confidence and with happy turns of phrase to tell the dramas

Finally a novel. Duly provided with an unhappy family. The happy exist, of course, as we readers are reminded by a title that Yasmina Reza skilfully stole from Jorge Luis Borges: "Happy are the happy". However, they leave a novelist little leeway.

Better an unhappy and quarrelsome family. The first insults are hurled at a bathroom door that won't open, on a fast train boasting cutting-edge technology. Or even an unhappy and quarrelsome provincial family, the land of choice for a good writer like Marco Archetti. "The Treviso aristocracy of poultry, in salmon trousers and boat moccasins, is lining up for the aperitif", he writes in La luce naturale, just out of Mondadori.

The cases of life are another valuable tool in the novelist's box. Here it happens that the train with the rebel door is traveling in the wrong direction. On board, much more than annoyed, the forty-year-old Flavio. Upstairs and settled in the direction of Turin, he receives from his sister Tiziana the news that her mother has a few days to live. The two women find a hotel in Eraclea, a pleasant town overlooking the gulf of Venice, where the elderly Elvira was supposed to rest.

His son Flavio had his acting commitments without luck – but we know that the big opportunity is always next. Marco Archetti has worked long enough in the theater – he is now artistic consultant of the Brescia Theater Center – to learn about the vices, the illusions, the doors in the face, the (rarer) unexpected fortunes that befall the aspirants, the famous and those who are halfway between .

Flavio just had an opportunity in his hands when the phone call came. From her sister Tiziana who took Barbie dolls and beat them on the forehead, once, twice and many times. Then she would cry, and it was her brother who took the blame (childish perfidy is underestimated). Then Flavio threw himself into the whirlwind of art and worldliness – so he lets believe – and Tiziana “had only the walls of the house, a husband-wallpaper, a sink of sadness”.

William Hazlitt said a few centuries ago: "The will is the last chance humans have to be wicked, and they usually make good use of it". There is no will here, and besides, the dying Elvira isn't dead yet. While the hotel owner inquires, not too discreetly, about the days that would be missing until he passes away – the customers don't want to see bad things when they are on vacation – the three brothers have enough past grievances to be able to do it themselves.

In addition to Flavio and Tiziana there is Gabriele, who in life seems to have combined nothing but loves and business, wrong. For once firm and decisive, he has stipulated that the money will be divided unequally, in his favor to him. Tiziana announces that a lot of money is missing from her maternal accounts. Among black eyes, anxieties, secrets and alliances, "the catapecchione of Feltre", Marco Archetti leads his story with great confidence. He does it without ever getting distracted, in an adequate number of pages. Another gift that the novelist gives to readers, it's useless to keep them prisoner when the story doesn't advance. Always, but always, he has happy turns of phrase to tell the dramas. "The most terrible mourning is offering one's life to those who do not want it". Or “men's unhappiness is hidden in useless adverbs”. He has it in for the "frankly" repeated too many times by a character to mask the embarrassment. But it also applies to novelists who are inexperienced in the trade and convinced - who knows for what traumas, elementary teachers, writing schools? – that the adverb ennobles the page.

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