Vittorio Curtoni – Where are we flying

A novel, six short stories and an autobiography

An unusual anthology collecting a novel, six short stories, an autobiography, a daily journal of the author edited by Giuseppe Lippi, and a complete bibliography edited by Andrea Vaccaro. The novel, which gives  the book its title, describes a post-atomic future where human beings are genetically mutants and banished in a ghetto, where they are forced to live under strict supervision. However, the seed of a rebellion lies hidden.  Thats all there is to the plot of Where are we flying?. It can be argued that the peculiarity of a narrative work doesn’t only depend on its storyline. With such a thin thread, Curtoni is capable of cranking out some of the most intense and original social science fiction novels ever written.

Published for the first time in 1972, the book is split into thirteen chapters titled as many Ingmar Bergman movies, each opened by quotations from songs of the seventies (Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, King Crimson, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Procol Harum, Emerson, Lake & Palmer). The novel describes a story of oppression, the metaphor of xenophobia and all intolerances, via a symbolic character in search of his own identity, even sexual.
The language used is extremely rich and poetic, dense with moving characterizations, making the reader think in many situations. Curtoni has both the talent of a rare penetrating glance in the narrative landscape, and the cultural background anticipating some of the liquid society topics developed by Bauman, the whole expressed with a spectacular and captivating writing, despite the burden of the subjects he’s dealing with. We can only feel sorry that this great author, who has recently passed away, didn’t write more, as only writers of his quality can give nourishment to our local stale literature.

All short stories are of fluctuating quality anddate back to the decade 1968-1978, showing a ripening author, whose writing peaks are The lunar syndrome, the excellent The explosion of the Minotaur and the Wind from the Sea. The author’s philosophical view is mixed with existentialism, with man always being the centre of action, despite his limits and his vain wish of overcoming them. Curtoni writes a pessimistic science fiction, sometimes marked with horror but never superficial, always permeated with an effective humanism.

Following the stories we find a, short essay My love story with science fiction (autobiography): the fascination of the twenty-nine pages composing this essay lies all in Curtoni’s personality, since he knows how to describe himself at the same time with pride and humility, charming us from the very first lines and instilling us with the regret of not having met him in person. A warm autobiography of a never self-celebrating, always consistent, man. Giuseppe Lippi enhances the volume with The Vitt Journal, which begins with the book preparation, starts before the author’s death and continues backwards in time right back to his birth, ending again with his passing: an essential and accurate companion text.

The volume ends with the Vittorio Curtoni Biography, the most complete ever published by the author from Piacenza, which contains all useful references to his short stories, today often very difficult to track.

Translation by Matteo Ciucci (edited by Irene Tossi)

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Heiko H. Caimi
Heiko H. Caimi, born in 1968, is a writer, screenwriter, poet and teacher of fiction writing. He has collaborated as an author with publishers Mondadori, Tranchida, Abrigliasciolta and others. He has taught at the Egea bookshop of Bocconi University in Milan and several other schools, libraries and associations in Italy and Switzerland. Since 2013 he has been editorial director of the literature magazine Inkroci. He is one of the founders and organizers of the traveling literary festival Libri in Movimento. He collaborates with the news magazine "InPrimis" keeping the column "Pages in a minute" and with the blog of the writer Barbara Garlaschelli "Sdiario". He published the novel "I predestinati" (The Predestined, Prospero, 2019) and edited the anthology of short stories "Oltre il confine. Storie di migrazione" (Over the border. Migration stories, Prospero, 2019).