I have been given this book to read a couple of months ago by one of my closest friends.
This friend was very thrilled to be placing this book in my hands.
It's written by the father of one of our friends, who, unbeknown to us, had been writing for a while and had been winning a few awards here and there, and even qualified as one of the finalists at the prestigious "Salone del Libro di Torino". You can read what it's all about here: en.salonelibro.it
I was very excited to hear all this.
I only superficially know the "father/writer" of our mutual friend, and have always viewed him as a rather reticent but kind man. The idea that he had this inner world within him and that he chose to write about it, kind of made sense in my head. He totally does look like the writer type of guy.
So I eagerly accepted the book.
I only got round to reading it last week, as epic poems are not usually my cup of tea, well, not since I was made to read a fair amount of them in school. So I had to overcome a bit of prejudice towards the gendre I have to admit. I was totally rewarded for my effort as I have been immensely impressed by this book.
Simonini writes fiction which sometimes, I suspect, borrows from his own life.
The title in English is: "The Legend of the Apuan Alps Knights".
It's a collection of 6 stories.
They are all set in the stretch of land on, and around the Apuan Alps, the ones where the famous Carrara, with its famous white marble that was so much loved by Michelangelo is, therefore, here in my area.
All the stories start in our day, in one of our towns, and end with either the writer himself or one of the characters dreaming about knights and princesses.
Names of actual knights and their families who lived in this land back in the Middle Ages are mentioned.
Beautiful descriptions of the armours and the life of a knight are skillfully written.
My favourite story is the one called: "The Bramapane cannons-The Knight Who Remembered his Enterprises".
The story is told in the first person, so maybe the account is autobiographical.
Anyway, this man takes his old father to visit this old station crouched above one of the Five Lands, called Bramapane. The old man was a young 16 year old soldier there back in WW2. They were stationed there waiting for the much feared German planes, in the hope to gun some of them down.
The remembrances of this man sent me back to Catch-22 and I thought that was very good.
And then, the writer wonders off with his thoughts, and instead of German planes, it's the huge dragons of Esdragon that emerge from the rough, foamy sea and gather in our Lunigiana valley to fight the hundreds of proud knights that have gathered there from all the nearby villages, to fight and protect their land, boudaries, produce and families.
This is where I strongly thought of The Battle of Elm's Deep from "The Two Towers".
Simonini is a writer of fiction who writes very eloquently, with a very elegant, refined, polished language.
His book was vastly enjoyable to read as I love, love, love good words and beautifully constructed sentences.
And, above all, it touched pure lyrical moments.
Simonini is obviously an incredibly sensitive soul who can capture nuances, subtleties, like a real poet.
A true artist.