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1. Bar Sport by Stefano Benni

2. Invisible Cities (Le Cittá Invisibili) by Italo Calvino

3. The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia


Bar Sport

"Bar sport" is considered one of the classical ones of the Italian humorous fiction.

The book describes in ironical and desecrating way the life of the cafes in Italy, with their strangeness and their stereotypes.

Stefano Benni with "Sports Bar", outlines the characteristic features present in almost all Italian cafè, giving a detailed ironical description for each element . The preface, which focuses on the status quo of the "bar"in the course of history, shows a series of improbable funny anecdotes of famous people of every historical period struggling with the surrogate of "bar ", of their era.

The narration of the customers and the particularities of the cafe, starts with the “Luisona”, the "doyenne of the brioches", by now as all the other brioches, considered an ornamental heirloom of the cafe.

They follow the stories of the attractions of the cafe as the flipper, the pool, the imaginary telephone or the famous table football, not to speak of the card games, historical institutions of the cafes since the dawn of the times.

Then the author detains him on all that characters that today is still easy to meet in the Italian cafes, with their eternal discussions and their peculiarities, characteristic of an Italy, dreamer and amusing.

"Bar Sport" it is a sort of dictated, of cinema resumption of what they were and what still, even though in minimal part, they are the cafes in Italy.

In the cover of the first edition, printed in 1979, the subtitle brings how much it follows: "loves, challenges, cappuccini, brawls, betted, phenomena, adventures, drunk, matches away, grappini, grandparents, sex and meringues" and it is really this what is the cafes, a sort of mix, of combination of all these elements, a cage of crazy person of which also us, at least once in the life we have made part.

Invisible cities

CALVINO, Italo, Le città invisibili, 1972, Einaudi

It shouldn't be difficult to write the review of a book: it should be sufficient to tell the story, describe the characters and give some information about the current of thought which it belongs to.

But it's impossible in this case: Invisible cities is a timeless book, it's so peculiar that it can't be simply defined.

The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor of the Tartars Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, the famous Italian explorer he sent around the vast empire to observe and report to him what he saw.

This is the guiding line which connects the descriptions of 55 cities visited by Polo during his journeys: every city is the protagonist of a very short prose poem and it must be interpretated in its metaphorical sense. The descriptions are divided in groups of five, which develop eleven different topics: there are, for example, “city and desire”, “city and exchanges”...they are full of images and original interpretations of the reality of modern cities but also of human life in general.

Short dialogues between Polo and the Kublai Khan are interspersed every five to ten cities and used to discuss various ideas presented by the cities on a wide range of topics; these interludes are no less poetically constructed than the cities and they form a story with a story that increases the complexity of the whole book.

The last dialogue contains a very famous passage about the daily “hell of living beings”:

There are two ways to not suffer it. The first one succeeds easy to many: to accept the hell and to become a part of it up to the point to not see it anymore. The second is risky and asks for attention and continuous learning: to look for and to know how to recognize who and what,in the middle of the hell, it is not hell, to let it last and to give it space.

It's a book that must be read slowly, one-two cities every evening, to savour the use of the words and to meditate their sense.

The day of the owl

Italy, 1961

The day of the owl is Leonardo Sciascia’s story. Despite the brevity of the text, the writer can make a perfectly vivid picture of Sicilian society and the Mafia mentality. In a few pages you can understand the organizational structure, the hierarchy and the fundamental difference from other criminal organizations: the intertwining with politics.

This information comes to the reader through a gripping storyline of a detective novel, but different from the others ones, because right from the first pages we know who the murder is. But the writing style of Sciascia dry, direct, concrete, involves and excites and urges us to follow the event with growing interest in the evolution of the story.

The story begins with the murder of Salvatore Colasberna, a member of a housing cooperative that has decided not to submit to the dominant Mafia family, not paying protection money. And right from the very beginning, the moments and hours after the murder, with amazing skill, Sciascia plunges the reader into the mob, made up of silence, of conspiracy, and populated by people who do not see or hear or , if they have seen and heard, pretend not to notice.

And so, although Colasberna was killed in front of dozens of people sitting in a bus and in front of the driver, the conductor, all vanish arrival of the police. And the only met, the seller of bread, asked with mock incredulity, "Why? Have they shot? "

To this is added another murder occurred the same day, the same morning: the unfortunate name was Paolo Nicolosi. Apparently unrelated to each other, in reality, the two murders are closely connected. It is this the intuition of Captain Bellodi who is following the investigation. And so, with a compelling investigation, the police managed to climb the pyramid of the Mafia family that controls the zone, and to stop the seemingly respectable Mariano Arena.

But his arrest attracts the attention of the press, the public and, inevitably, of friends in high places that Arena has in Parliament and in Government ...

Sciascia, in addition to writing the story masterfully, outlines unforgettable characters to their thickness, their words, their ambiguity. And so even marginal ones are of substantial value in shaping important aspects of society and mentality.

For example, the precise exposure of the idea that the police informer Parinieddu has about the law: he, like everyone in Mafia society, does not think that there might be a law equal for everyone: for the strong as the weak, for the rich as the poor, for the wise as the ignorant. The only law is the one who has the strength and power to prevail, the only law they recognize is an unjust law. And it is the only one that they recognize because in the lands of the mafia state is absent.

It's clear, for example, the event that Captain Bellodi remembers at the end of the story: a doctor beaten up for doing his duty turned first to the state from which no reply is received, then to the boss from which is received if not justice, at least revenge .

And the mafia thrives precisely for this reason: it gives answers to the citizens, give those answers, those services (ostensibly favors) that the state does not provide. This is why the mafia has consent. And Sciascia contains all this speech in a sentence pronounced by Captain Bellodi: "The family is the state of the Sicilian".

But since many decades, the Mafia is also in many other Italian regions: the Camorra in Campania, the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia.

These organizations have been strengthened and expanded: they have developed their economic power in Italy, inserting in procurement, and in the world with drug and arms trafficking. Mafia continued to grow thanks to the silence and indifference of men and women, thanks to the desire to live happily without thinking about the common good, thanks to the collusion and connivance of the Italian political class.

But this situation is changing in recent years. Something in the civil society is moving. There are courageous judges and journalists and writers who risk their lives every day. But, above all, there are two factors that are being created and that will inevitably lead to the ultimate defeat of the Mafia: consciousness and memory, particularly among young people.

There is awareness of what happens: the injustice and the many crimes that are committed; there is awareness of what we should do: tell what we see and what we know; remember what happened; how and why did it happen; always remember the names of all those who sacrificed themselves, the names of all those who fought the indifference and contempt, the names of all those who have raised their head

And this is what is doing Libera, an organization that brings together in its battle against the Mafia thousand five hundred associations, four thousands schools, thousands and thousands of citizens.

But the commitment is even more concrete: in Italy there are hundreds of Mafia assets confiscated by the state and re-used by cooperatives to give jobs to young people and, in summer, to thousands of volunteers. Finally, there is someone, who is not the mafia, that begins to give answers to people's needs.

This is possible thanks to a law passed in 1996 by the Italian Parliament. Now, by Libera’s initiative, this law was proposed on 8 December 2010 at the European Parliament to promote confiscation as a common European practice.

So if Italy has always been known worldwide as the mafia land for a few years Italy should also be known as the anti-mafia’s country.