LOST WORDS, a novel by Nicola Gardini, reviewed by Claire Rudy Foster • Cleaver Magazine
What is experienced and what is retained can be wildly disparate; a revolution is distilled to a single detail, as Nicola Gardini reveals in the lovely novel Lost Words. Gardini explores the cultural and political revolution of 1970s Italy through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy. Chino—his given name is Luca—is a doorwoman's son in a working-class apartment building on the unfashionable side of Milan. “The doorwoman was not to be away from her post or distracted for a single instant,” Gardini explains. “If something required her to be away from her post, like taking out the trash, then her son should fill in for her and guard the lobby and the front staircase.” The tenants of 15 Via Icaro make Luca's mother miserable; with the mildest touch of bitterness, Luca watches their messy, entitled lives as they trail through the lobby. Like most details of childhood, they are simultaneously fascinating and utterly forgettable—as soon as Luca moves away, he will not think of them again. He is growing up, and Gardini describes his slow inheritance of other people’s nostalgia.