Project room Myownbooks By Antonio Mancinelli

Fashion / Music / Design / Graphics Telling with books A personal journey into the libraries of the creative

Your favourite books? 

Choosing just one is impossible Or even several. Each book read is a love story between you and the book and this excludes any kind of hierarchy. Because you have helped to bring them to life in your head, they have moulded you into what you are, what you want, what you desire. Given that for me reading is living lives other than yours, I am a random reader, led by curiosity, passion for a certain author or for a certain period in history, which are then replaced by others. I am not systematic or methodical, I have never read a book “because-it’s-a-must-read”. There is a healthy desire to know about the stories of others which I think is due to the work that I then undertook. So, if I had to say which are my favourite books, they are those in which the narration is part and parcel of a rich, dense, fascinating language. And it must be clear that narration can also be contained in an image.

What was the first ever book you read and loved?
I grew u in a family where I was the last to arrive, with two much older sisters, a teacher for a mother and father who was a doctor. At home there was neither time nor space for “children’s’” books. At the age of 10 I was already reading Kafka, obviously without having a clue what it was all about, purely because there was nothing by Jules Verne or Emilio Salgari on the shelves of our library (I read them aged 20). I have to admit however that the first book that made me realise how writing can help to build worlds was “Sentimental Education” by Gustave Flaubert, which my mother read in French and I had bought for me in Italian, hoping it was a bit pornographic. They had to shake me to tell me that lunch was ready or it was time for bed. I was amazed and enraptured by those pages that spoke to me alone. Or so it seemed. I must have been about 12.

Are there any books that are in some way inspiring you?
I have always had my refuge-books where I hide away when I need a refreshing adjective, a new word, an intelligent note. A great addiction, almost narcotic, to every line every written by Giorgio Manganelli, from whom I am separated by just two letters in our surnames but we are worlds apart in terms of skill.  And then Italo Calvino, Cristina Campo and Marcel Proust, the Russian classics, but above all the English and French ones. In just one summer as an adolescent I devoured all Patricia Highsmith’s novels.Since his first book came out in Italian I have developed a worrying groupie-like veneration for every book Martin Amis has ever written. Who now competes with Tibor Fischer, Emmanuel Carrère and the terrifically clever Philip Roth and Haruki Murakami. For my work I really admire books by Valerie Steele, Anne Hollander, Gillo Dorfles and Umberto Eco, more his essays than his novels. At the moment I am reading, at one and the same time, the latest John Irving, a delightful novel by Nancy Mitford, “Love in cold climate”, and the latest work by the greatest living American authoress in my opinion, Jennifer Egan. It is  actually the first, entitled “Look at Me” and the fact that we are almost the same age arouses feelings of good-natured envy in me.  If nothing else, it stops me from writing a novel: this means that no green areas are uselessly deforested

For the publication of a piece of fiction by yours truly.
Are you interested in digital books or are you still linked to the traditional version? 
Both. I have always believed that it is what is written and what it is written on that makes a story eternal and powerful. I have a Kindle, but at the same time I am fond of the book as an object. I am open to all forms that publications may undergo or determine. What is important, as Manganelli would say, is that “no book finishes. Book are not long, they are wide”.

By Stefano Guerrini