The salient passages of the memorable meeting with Paolo Nori, author of A cosa servono i gatti illustrated by Andrea Antinori, both guests of Bookcity Milano 2021 in a meeting at the Castello Sforzesco, November 18th.
Nori began: «When I was asked to publish A cosa servono i gatti, I was happy. When I was then asked to have it illustrated by Andrea Antinori, I was perplexed. For some reason, I don’t know how to say, “masonic”. Of secret societies. That has nothing to do with the quality of Andrea Antinori’s illustrations which are, you will all agree, beautiful. No.
My little girl “Battaglia” and I have something in common, for example the fact that we are called Nori, by surname. I remember when her mother went with her to the hospital, to the office where the names of the children are registered, and the mother of Battaglia said that she chose my surname. I remember the employee asked her: “Are you sure? ” and I asked myself: “What does she want, this one?”. Anyway, Battaglia’s mother was sure, and Battaglia and I are both called Nori.
So when bad things happened to Battaglia and I, she was little at that time, like that we waited at the bus stop, one day it was raining, and a car went by and there was a puddle and the car was splashing water on us of the puddle, when these little disasters happened, we blamed the Antinori.
Even though Battaglia has grown, when I was asked to publish A cosa servono i gatti with illustrations by Andrea Antinori, I felt compelled to ask permission from her.
“I wouldn’t want”, I told her,“ that it was a move by the Antinori to ruin us ”.
She thought about it for a while and then she said to me: “Well, I don’t know … I’d give it a chance”. And then she ended up like this. We gave it a chance. And now let’s see. “
The book (chosen by the editor Giulia Genovesi you see in the photograph, between Nori and Antinori!) is a funny and slightly bitter text about the moments of “nothing” that we all experience. Between loneliness and disorientation (in the kitchen as well as on holiday in Amsterdam), self-irony and tenderness.
A book where nothing happens. A book about “doing nothing”, which is fundamental, but very difficult ”, Paolo Nori told us at the presentation at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, on the occasion of Bookcity 2021.
Paolo Nori wrote this text many years ago: “at that time I asked myself and my loved ones do you remember?’’
He asked himself the same question with us, looking at his life in the past years, the time he wrote A cosa servono i gatti:
“I mean, I didn’t understand, they didn’t invite me, but everyone was talking about it, about this fact of affecting reality. They hadn’t even invited me, I didn’t know anything about it, but I was wondering two things, there in Rome, what it meant to affect reality and then another thing: what are cats for? “
“The Lawyer, who was a cat, and was called Fufi, or perhaps Learco”, was a gift from a girlfriend, “so you learn to take care of someone”, she told him.
And while they live together, the main character and the cat, whose name is Fufi, the Lawyer, or perhaps Learco, while she meows, doesn’t want to go into her bedroom, stops on the threshold and then comes back, he watches her, travels, does not think about her, and comes back, and thinks:
Actually my cat Learco, in this world, had only me.
Paolo Nori seeks the answers to the questions that invade our thoughts in those periods when we feel empty, dull. Among the pages of this text, with the magnificent illustrations by Andrea Antinori as a counterpoint, there is that subtle irony about oneself and the world that is somehow saving and comforting. You will also find yourself smiling as you happen to wonder what are cats for?
Enjoy the reading!