I’m on a ten-hour flight, on the way back home. A tiny space between me and the screen. Tingling in every part of my body. My neighbor’s snoring as background music keeps me company while I recall the last few days in the U.S. and I take my time to put together the pieces of information which I will need to describe the weekend, or rather the “writers weekend”.
I was glad to take part in the Writers Weekend, Augusta University’s annual creative writing conference, and present my novel, A Perfect Idiot. I had the opportunity to meet great writers and poets (like Anna Harris-Parker, Jim Minick, Spencer Wise, Cinelle Barnes and Eric Smith amid others) and discuss our work. A solitary work that you carry out alone at your desk, and yet a continuous dialogue between you and the rest of the world.
This is the kind of experience which can help either authors and readers understand that they are not alone with their books. A heap of interesting people is waiting for you out there.
There were many events from Friday through Sunday. For example, Dr. Giada Biasetti and I gave a craft talk based on the translation of my novel from Italian into English. Our room was full! The eyes and hands of the audience showed interest and curiosity.
I talked about honey mushrooms, travels, monasteries, sisters, old books that were stolen from a market stall and many other memories which made me the person I am. We then introduced our translation project, the free distribution of this book amid high-school students, and we explained how to “translate emotions”, how translators and authors can collaborate in order to stimulate in Anglo-American readers the same emotions experienced by Italian readers. In other words, how important is to show images and not to explain them.
Our research, along with the examples from the translation process from a romance language to English, is described in an upcoming article titled like our talk: “How do We Translate Emotions?”
On Monday came the best part of my job: talking to the students and sharing with them my experience as a writer. I had the opportunity to visit several classes and read them some excerpts from my novels alongside my “ten commandments of writing”. We talked about my work, the way I live it, the obsessions behind creativity, my philosophy of life and writing, my childhood and the Idiot’s story, based on my own experience with children in a foster home.
I then asked the students to write down on a piece of paper a particular, intimate event of their own childhood. And I cheated, as I told them that it would be something private and we wouldn’t share it or read it. Instead, at the end of our encounter, I asked to give it to anyone in the room. My idea was to show them how I feel when I publish a book. In one way or another, I deliver the most intimate part of myself to perfect strangers.
A Perfect Idiot is a story that explores the role of a man without a name in a society which gives a name to everything. An autobiographical story, a celebration of love for books, in the end. Alongside the analysis of a tender relationship between an old Argentinian prostitute, Signorina Rosario Rossi, and her ex-boyfriend, don Vito Palladino, an irreverent parish priest.
All the copies I brought with me from France were offered to the students; a few of them were sold by the Book Tavern to someone amid more than 200 visitors which attended the conferences, craft talks, concerts, and book signings. We also left a couple at the Public Library.
I will present again this project in several schools across Europe and the United States thanks to my friends at Articoli Liberi, which produced this book and will help me distribute it. We are creating nice books at our own charges and offering them to schools. We count on your help to spread the word and let the world know that we exist. Our goal is to share our passion for reading and pass it down to the new generation. And after a weekend like this, I believe that our idea is not as crazy as it sounds.