Una strada stretta e polverosa, il sole che splende come un tizzone ardente fra un’immagine della Madonna da un lato e una fabbrica abbandonata di bottiglie dall’altro, nella via una famiglia al completo che gioca a ping-pong fino a tardi nelle sere d’estate – poc, poc, poc – e poi, quando finalmente loro se ne vanno a dormire, un cane attacca ad abbaiare dall’altro lato del nostro piccolo palazzo, persiane che sbattono: un fiume di imprecazioni segue il lancio di un tozzo di pane… Via Colombare. Una volta che mi ero convinto a farlo, scrivere un libro sull’Italia è stato divertentissimo. E, in un certo senso, anche facile. Da circa dieci anni abitavo in un condominio di quattro appartamenti, che vantava una bizzarra galleria di personaggi impegnati in ogni sorta di intrigo domestico, sia fra di loro che con tutte le altre persone di quella stretta via. Per di più ero arrivato da quelle parti quando ero abbastanza giovane (26 anni) da desiderare di mostrarmi disponibile, generoso, pronto a parlare con tutti, a scoprire cose. Una volta che tutto era stato detto e fatto arrivai a conoscere l’Italia in quella via: le leggi edili (come aggirarle), la potatura della vigna, le melanzane, le restrizioni sull’innaffiatura (come ignorarle), le processioni religiose, i funerali. Non ero venuto in Italia perché la amassi particolarmente (anche se ora sono in buoni rapporti con questo paese), né perché avessi qualche particolare progetto in mente, ma solo perché mia moglie mi offriva questa via di fuga, l’opportunità di fallire in pace, lontano dai successi strepitosi degli amici di Londra. Quando nessuno vuole pubblicare i tuoi libri, non c’è luogo più indicato di Via Colombare per non affermarsi. Se si può dire che la mentalità provinciale ha un’acme, è proprio qui. Eppure, paradossalmente, è stato proprio questo il libro che mi ha portato il successo commerciale maggiore a livello internazionale. Alla fine avevo scritto qualcosa di quasi completamente piacevole, un libro senza traccia di quella vena tetra e spiacevole che le recensioni sono tanto pronte a individuare nei miei romanzi. Ma al diavolo le recensioni! (anche se molte sono troppo generose). Per quanto lusinghiere, questa volta non ve ne propongo nessuna.

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