Semiotext(e) / Native Agents
128 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: April 25, 2014
- Publisher: Semiotext(e)
A tale of ambivalent friendship and obsession with a fashionable drifter named Nicola in the fashionable city named Milan.
It was the lies he told that reminded me of that past of mine that I hadn't encountered in a while. He was telling me the kinds of lies where the teller implies that things that have only happened to him once are long-running habits. Things about too much whiskey, Céline and De Sade, eating alone in expensive Japanese restaurants, knowing nobody (this last fact he would continue to repeat in later meetings, it seeming more barbarously unreal each time).
—from Nicola, Milan
Vaguely employed as a brand strategist in a B-version of the Italian Glamour export economy, the twenty-five-year-old unnamed narrator of Nicola, Milan is an international loner, watch checker, tip leaver, shit-talker, drifting from bar to airport lounge, taxi to hotel foyer, drunk and caffeinated at the same time, trying to explain to you the finer points of how to pitch an idea of Italy to Americans.
But when he meets the slightly older, richer, and worldlier Nicola, he becomes fascinated with him, seeing Nicola as a transcendental exemplar of the international-creative class culture he both envies and loathes. As the narrator stalks Nicola through the streets of Milan and its outskirts, what began as a casual friendship develops into an obsessive attachment, a crisis of identity connecting two hustlers, and a struggle against the quiet oblivion usually hidden by the web of tics and affectations that constitute a personality.
Combining a Houellebecq-like sense of the psychic malaise beneath the surface of contemporary cultural life with the dispassionate voice of a police report, Nicola, Milan tells a story of perverse, asexual frenzy emptying out into the void.
In the chosen land—a Milan full of bored rich people too dumb to know themselves—a man longs to know Nicola, a cruel and ineffable hustler. What's it like to really 'go home' with Nicola? I could not turn away from the answer—trashy and female, dangerously hot. Nicola, Milan reads like a part of the secret literature that it wishes to penetrate.
Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead
Nicola, Milan is a ravishing and delirious search through the blinkered and fraught consciousness of a man who has invested far too much of himself in someone else—or who he thinks that person is. This compact book seethes with ambiguous sexuality, while an enticing darkness constantly beckons. Lodovico Pignatti Morano's arresting debut gazes unflinchingly into the most gnarled and obsessive crevices of the human mind.
Peter Mountford, author of A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism and The Dismal Science