Books, social and communication

Welcome to my blog.

In this section are collected post on books, publishing, social and communication.



Music and events - Imaginary stories and insights

Books Translated - My books translated into English

Short Stories My short stories

Utopias Between dreams and reality

Debate - Controversy and a bit of malice

Remark - My thoughts collected. 

Super Cashiers - New humorous format on supermarket cashiers

Is Facebook dying?


Facebook is dying. I am not talking about numerical issues that I assume to be thriving – recent surveys by industry experts confirm this because FB holds 77% of social network traffic, along with its sister companies Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram. The giant of Harward which characterized these years is fading into what is the essence of the socialization and virtual interaction. Facebook is a container of personal data and information, of existences entrusted to the web so that they do not remain forgotten. We are all involved in an alleged immortality.

In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. The prophecy cleverly recycled by Andy Warhol is outdated. FB offers notoriety and does so whenever we need to make it know that we exist, in a constant, illusory, collective need.

Publishing selfies, reflections, and parables become an entertainment that gets sublimation when we check for approvals and follow up. And we do not admit it, but we regret to go unnoticed. An event makes sense only if it is immortalized and even the relationships are affected by just one application present on a telephone. Whoever doesn’t install it, is out of the game.

Facebook is the story of a novel, our own. It is our existence told by ourselves that lack of neutrality.  It is the ideal life that we want to show, hiding the worst and showing trophies for the posterity.

We are Facebook as well, we are the use we make of it. FB is dying because when you post messages addressed to the dead, do you expect a response from the dead? And when you turn to your cat, do you think it understands? When your child mimics your duckface, are you satisfied? Keyboard dilatation, of course that makes FB a necessary uselessness.

Now, save money: Mattioli, why do you have a Facebook account then?

Let me be clear, I write about FB and its bad use because I am certainly not better than others. I have spread the web with personal profiles with the hidden excuse that having an activity, I mate promotional use of it. I am feeding this cemetery for living ones by uploading pictures and epitaphs, where everyone plays and sings about themselves, trying to catch the interest of others by winkling or provoking, flaunting quotes that are fashion.

I am at the end of the line, yet I remain anchored to an old principle that is currently losing the race: when you have nothing to say, say nothing.

In other words, mine is just a declaration of awareness.


How to stay writers without editors nor readers

Putting independent publications or small publishers in order in the ocean is a bold project, to say the least. There are a lot of websites, groups, associations, which aim to increase and spread the reading fever. In another post, I questioned myself whether there has ever been a thriving period in our country to read. Have Manzoni, Alighieri - as not to distance themselves from the classics and clichés - in their time seen their works being consumed by hardened readers?

The first fact is that a work – whatever it may be and whatever its subject matter is – needs time. I don’t know how much a publisher does enough to resist a book of traditional publishing. We live in the hit-and-run age and consumption. It’s hard for a publication to fail to do so. Let’s be clear: a book is a product, the great publisher says the opposite (and could not be otherwise), but that’s it. A product has its seasonality; a work stands the contrast with time.

For these reasons (and for many other) an author who chooses the road of self-publishing must not to have haste, but work to make sure that his masterpiece (everyone believes he wrote one) resists. How? I don’t know it, otherwise, I would be one of the most read.

An advantage of self-publishing, moreover, is that you can always update your own book and practice what you learn over time. For now, I have only done so with a title, Stelle di Polvere (Stars of Dust). It works (the method) even if it still doesn’t sell. Oh, at least consistency is safe.

The second fact is that often works (of independent authors and small publishers) are lost in the sea of groups, websites, and associations that promote reading and to which I have referred at the beginning. How can you highlight your work? I have to repeat myself: I don’t know. Also, in this case, there are countless tips, the web is fundamental, but dispersive as well. An independent (or not) writer must learn to write. To do this, it may take a lifetime.

Writing means building a story, documenting oneself, collecting notes, rewriting several times. And then reviewing, proofreading, and perfecting editing, two aspects that are different. And I write in this way, in synthesis. An independent writer, in addition, must learn a path of promotion and all that already done by the recognized experts.

Often, more, and more often, reference is made to the uselessness of writing and it is an aspect to consider, at least not to give in to frustration.

I believe that if not everything, much is tied to one's ego. Why do you write? Do you want to be read or do you want to receive satisfaction with selling some copies? Yes, because selling and reading are not things that go hand in hand. If you are satisfied with being read, there is the possibility of writing for free on the web and possibly, write shortly. However, it is not always the case that the results are there. In short, say it: writing is self-injurious!

Writing and publishing are mainly different works. You have to learn them both if you are independent writers. We can experiment with new approaches, but we must make mistakes, try again and observe ourselves. And wait for time to take its course and for the passion to resist, as well as the work. 

We need to reflect on the role of the writer in society and in his own age. In a system and in an historical period in which every aspect is consumed and thrown away, where they have taught us that time is money and therefore, this too comes and disappears, why should anyone else spend money indeed, time to read?

I have already written it and I repeat, regarding promotion, marketing, and patience on the path of your own book that it is not wrong to consider religious texts or sacred scriptures. We are talking about group readings that have passed the complicated temporal space.

Someone might consider you crazy, but everyone should invent a personal speaker's corner, equip themselves with a wooden box (which is resistant), climb and read out their book. At the park, in a subway station or at a bus station. If you are shy, wear a pair of glasses. It helps. Sooner or later a bystander will stop to listen to you, but make sure that they do not wear a white gown. 

In recent years, with the arrival of the self-publication, it has been thought that the publisher was an outdated figure and that a writer could do without it. Now, I ask myself: can a writer do without the reader, too, and remain a writer?  

Luciano Bianciardi, one who has given us some ideas, wrote Do Not Read the Books, Let Them Tell.

So, to be self-referential, an attitude that I do not recognize myself, I have begun to publish on the web some films in which I read short passages of my writings. This did not bring too exciting results because I had to learn to read what I had written.


A writer should write less; better if nothing

Young writers are a species which receives endless tips for their work. It is unlikely to make a mistake given the countless book published so that these (young writers) have a clear road. Wise writers are unable to give up the edition of the creative writers for newcomers. We are a people of sailors, explorers, and even councilors.

And, yet despite the fact that the suggestion buffet is always rich, young writers keep on asking for more and new ones, as if the past is not to their liking. That’s a scene that remembers that guy who keeps changing doctor because his one has forbidden him to drink.

Writers aren’t wrong. Often they meet the publisher who asks them for financial support, or the publisher who doesn’t pay, often the publisher who doesn’t publish because of the poor quality or lack of the same. So? There is just the self-publication left as an option that thing that everyone can do because there is no filter.

It is now easy, inevitable, and even holy to debate the role of the filter and the workforce in a sector which is now in crisis and which only keeps on scrabbling in the barrel. Just remember the depressive climate of the first day at the Fiera della Piccola e Media Editoria (Small and Medium Publishing Fairy) last December in Rome.

The free way to selfies? New opportunities are emerging. Pure industry professionals, editing expert, proofreaders, and file processing join under the wing of the international giant, creating virtual publishing houses: the publisher under the shadow of the American Amazon. Unfortunately, one fact emerges: costs do not encourage online purchases. Although the author (or the new publisher) decrees the price of his work, it raises the cost of shipping. The kinds of the well-known stars and stripes portal that sells every good say that if a price is too low, the book will not have its exposure in all channels (and if a product lacks visibility, the consequence is logical…) because production costs exceed the economic return.

According to a common thought, this society is enslaved to a general degradation that cannot be compromised also because we don’t read that much or at all as if when the literacy rate was directed downwards more than at present, we would have read with feverish action. I wonder if there even has been a time when books were being devoured.

Emil Cioran announced that books must be dangerous, have to leave a wound and change the life of the reader. That’s the point, perhaps. Is there anyone who wants to change their existence?

I often read articles from editorial marketing gurus which reveal the secrets of the strategies, the aggregation tactics, and the reader hunt; explorations regarding the most debated themes and topics of greatest interest.

In my mailbox, I often receive delirious posts. The communication system is collapsing. What does matter is just the click, the sharing, the aggregation. A group of apostles is created (usually more than 12), dedicated to what they like and to the recommend this post. Each of them expects all the others to pay attention.

It also emerges the energetic and resolute figure that usually verbally threatens, politely insults and warns who dare to contradict them because at the next time he will unfollow them.

The common denominator is the artifice. More or less as in those portals for self-publishing where we comment on each other and add stars to others’ books after the author has done the same. Sometimes you even exchange the purchase as soon as you have identified who bought your purchase. That’s it.

I may move forward.

There is a difference between fiction and plausibility. In writing and publishing her personal Pretty Woman style novel, the young writer will get contracts, gain visibility, perhaps increase his own account. And what about literature?

Starting from the assumption that every artistic expression is a fiction, in fiction itself, we talk about dreams, aspirations, of the one in a million. This is a kind of art that serves the individual. Feeding dreams for the silent majority have always been an interest-bearing market. Let’s be clear: there are bad books about plausibility and realism, there is no doubt. We are just trying to highlight the attempts, the task, the intent.

Now, I always hope that a prostitute will meet the prince charming, that a thief will mend his way, that a terrorist will put flowers in his rifle, but life is different. You don’t know how, but definitely, it is not a penny dreadful. I believe that the writer needs to understand what he wants to do with his activity and where he wants to go with it. It is necessary to question the role of the writer or the poet in society, what is notoriety and not the reason you have to despise it, but the reason you have to sacrifice your work to achieve it.

A writer has to write less, better if nothing. That’s it. Why? I don’t know. It seems to be paradoxical as much as the general situation of publishing, including demand, supply, and needs.

And that’s why I regret everything I wrote and published. Writing techniques have taught us to write the same concepts for centuries, inventing, if possible, new ways to express them: I will tell you, in the most original way possible, do not buy my books and spit on me.


Bloggers and writers

Blogger or writer? I also ask myself the same. Technically, the blogger runs an online diary and writes posts, something similar to newspaper articles or rather comments on the news. More or less – because someone might contradict me – in the common imagination it is a definition pretty close to reality.

The writer is also a writer who writes a shopping list (thanks, Wikipedia), so who writes books, as we understand it, is above all an author of texts. So, much so as not to inflate the market of the self-styled writers, I have tried to isolate myself. I left the field and started to think – for what nature allows me – and juggle with the (few) means available to me.

The publishing situation is what it is. Having passed the phase of self-publishing – which I have not discarded, but where I am reluctant not because of the technical work needed to produce a text, as for promotion (it seems strange, but if you do not tell people that you have written something, you cannot blame the others if it remains in the dark) – today I am at ease in a dimension such as online publication, trying not to be invasive, nor to piss off the others.

Moreover, there is something that you prefer not to consider, but you have to face; everyone thinks that their works are special, but sometimes (I write sometimes, but it’s almost always!) that’s not the case. Pause.

Well, I wrote it. I would like to add: what you write is not always fundamental for the others. He or his neighbor can (would) do without it. If you have written something great, sooner, or later someone will discover you. Maybe. Or not. That could even be an advantage. I do not want to frustrate anybody, but if you are satisfied we may agree on a definition such as a world does not necessarily realize your genius and may prefer to remain empty and poor of your masterpiece.

After all, I was not who said that justice is not in this life, but in another. Which one? I would not know.

The hardest work is to accept the limits of one’s existence and also to accept anonymity. Maybe you will have your fifteen minutes of glory or you will be just for one day.

Do not poison your life (and that of others). Have fun, play, read. Read.

Pocketbook writers with a manuscript in the drawer. All publishers write this way. Is that a metaphor for publishing in Italy? Maybe. In the drawers and closets, there are only manuscripts and skeletons. Before sending or publishing the masterpiece, pull the skeletons out. Just to clean.    


Le ventre de Paris


Le ventre de Paris of Emile Zola represented for me one of the most fulfilling moment of read-out, started and finished at Villa Lazzaroni, on Via Appia in Rome.

I had completely canceled myself and from a park bench I lived the spell to find myself among the kiosks of the Halles and Parisian districts, between the gastronomy shops and the fruit carts. I was really immersed in the perfumes and colors of the market.

The ventre is a text characterized by pictorial influences. Zola refers, using the term macchie (spots), to the Macchiaiolis' artists. In meticulous descriptions, there's an homage to Flemish art and the exaltation of detail, as well as in changes of light we find the relationship with Monet's impressionism.

Some criticisms emphasize it's not an absolute masterpiece but just a good novel, but I will debate it from a subjective point of view because I loved it.

I think the beginning is a moment in which the description already reaches high narrative levels while the end, bitter, tears the meat off the body. Within these two points, Zola's microcosm is animated and the interaction between characters takes shape, passing through the tragicomic paradoxes and symbolism such as Florent's thinness which counteracts the roundness of his brother and his sister-in-law, expressions of the opulence of that environment. Food, meant as wealth, is one of the themes which puts together lesser plots and tales.

It's a text doesn't perpetuate only Paris in 1858 - the Second Empire of Napoleon III - but it becomes a cross section of modern society.

The fate brings Florent, escaped from the Cayenne prison where he was imprisoned for being an opposition to the Empire, by his half-brother Quenu, who became rich thanks to the inheritance of their uncle and the good management of his wife, Lisa, who was already uncle's assistant. The couple welcomes Florent lovingly offering him his part of inheritance which he, however, refuses. In order to protect Florent from indiscreet questions and police, the spouses will pass him for a cousin of Lisa.

It will be precisely Lisa, worried the revolutionary nature of her brother-in-law introduces them to new risks, to signal Florent to the authority when, through a series of gossip, his activity becomes of public domain. Quenu, by cowardice, will only be able to cry, leaving the task to his wife and choosing not to intrude; he for whom Florent, when was a boy, in order to guarantee him a future, had given up on the study devoting himself to his education.

How can I not put myself in Florent's shoes?

I can't see difference between the enriched peasants of the last century who come to the Halles to sell their merchandise, and those office clerks animated by parasitic mores described, for example, by Paolo Villaggio. Baseness, hypocrisy and egoism of the characters of the Parisian lower to middle class are the same in globalized society. The roles, the thrones defended for convenience, are movements comparable to the plots that carry the fisher-woman (La Normanna) and the pizzicagnola (Lisa), historical rivals, to contend the trust and gratitude of Florent the needy and then ally against Florent the instigator, when he gets involved in subversive and sterile activities by his friend Gavard, the only one who knows his past well.

Anyone, included in an alien environment, take a reverse path to a conforming order, in most cases will go the way of Florent.

It's the story of the defense of our own space and of its respectability, about the intrigues woven by the honest people working, and it's to these characters more than ever real the author will dedicate the final epitaph.


To life as it is


Everyone fights a sacred war for their social status. Anyone marks his/her territory to protect it from the cause of others who, if subsidized, would undermine that inviolable territory.

I'm not talking about international issues or ordinary politics. I'm talking about life as Ii is. I'm talking about the unconscious ferocity of some subtle blackmail. Yes, I get Indignant as a certain commune think impose me; I create matters, I line up, I abhorred and I am appalled: how can I not be?

I perceive silence to descend like snow doesn't make noise, when I learn of abandoning of his own fate, so much of an old stupid as a beast now grown. Or the end of a friendship which leaves you uncomfortable, and in general for anything no longer useful and hinders the road to someone. It happens not to strike the serenity of a coexistence or just for your own tranquility. The torture of the weaker, after all, in time becomes feeble. It's just life, as It's.

The same Guy de Maupassant in the novel Bel Ami tells the climb of George Duroy in Paris of the nineteenth century. Military on leave, moved to the capital working for Railways, George observes the good life of the high Parisian society and he is consumed for envy. He occasionally meets an old comrade, now editor of La vie française. He encourages him to pursue the career in journalism by presenting him the right people: he is creating a monster. Denying his modest origins, as ambitious man and great seducer he is, Duroy will start a social climbing in which he will manipulate powerful men and smart women. Unscrupulous, George Duroy represents the mediocre determinant who uses everyone and everything to succeed.

In life as it is, success would be represented by avoiding the problems. Habits, even the wrong ones, are adapted to anyone's posture. Everyone has superior reasons, within what Bukowski calls, in Hollywood Hollywood, the human chopsticks of existence. Chronicles develop the intransigence and the sense of justice with regard to the society in which you live. Then, in private, far from the spotlight, you become a judge pleasing to yourself. Chronicles exalt you, it's true, but your balance remains so fragile. Almost anything is enough, when you move in the narrow fringes of panic, to lose the control you believed to have. One wonders, when what's left around you is desolation, marginalization, how it's possible live just the same.

Reflection of low rhetoric. George Duroy is a well-depicted matrix, even unknown to those who haven't read Bel Ami, but his spirit, anyway you want define it, lies in any kind of society human mind can perceive. And, after all, you don't even have to read Maupassant. The lousy Duroy is anyone. It's just life as it is.


© Enrico Mattioli 2017