Have you ever eaten a basket of rowan berries? Well, it doesn’t matter how sweet and tasty they are until you have eaten the last one. If it is not completely ripe and still has a bitterness at its heart you will have ruined all those you ate before.
This is a passage from Estelle.In this story of a princess and an accordion player, Massimo Piccolo’s book reveals the philosophical, existential reality that concerns us all: life must be lived to the last sweet or bitter surprise that will help us understand who we really are.
The effort to come out into the open, to satisfy one’s authentic desires at the cost of losing the warm cocoon of the affection of those who, while loving us, create a world around us that does not correspond to the true needs of our being; gifts, protection and security, all must be renounced, and it takes courage to acquire the maturity necessary for the conquest of happiness. To know yourself is the first fundamental stage of man, the basis on which to build your future. The exclusive, personal, unparalleled and non-mystifying future that does not need embellishment and heroes, but only its own self-awareness, and knowledge of the place to reach, or at least to aim for.
Juan tells Estelle “you will never know what you want if you don’t get out of here”.
This is the sentence, the seed from which the painful tree of uncertainty, of doubt, of crisis flourishes. The terrible and insurmountable wall that each of us will be faced with sooner or later.
Estelle recalls this fundamental stage of man through a wise narrative made up of accurate descriptions and representations of states of mind. Massimo Piccolo’s humanity shines through the great metaphor that his book represents. Lulled by a pleasant story full of colours and flavours, of sensuality and panoramas – a story that has the flavour of those fairy tales that our loved ones told us when we were children, and especially when we were in need of fairy tales and protection – slowly we begin to understand the deep meaning of all this. (Massimo himself reveals this in his acknowledgments).
The fairy tale structure of the book is linear. The typical characters – the king’s daughter and her father, with the threatening attitude of the latter towards the future son-in-law; the hero, who is somehow hero-liberator as well as hero-victim (Juan) are all vivid, full of adolescent emotional strength.
In the apparently simple above-mentioned rowanbasket passage there is a profound Calvinian refraction – Italo Calvino is also acknowledged as an inspiring source, as literature of the fantastic to illustrate the great existential themes – a person’s life consists of the whole chain of events of which the last could also change the meaning of the whole, not because it counts more than the previous ones, but because once included in a life the events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but responds to an internal architecture.
Reading Estelle, traverses the growth life puts before us. There are two ways; to remain in gilded misery, or to grow and meet destiny, to fall into one’s ego without a net, without filters, without anyone being able to interpret and govern us anymore. And so the last rowan, the last unexpected event in our life, will be decisive, it will be the necessary help, the event from which it will be impossible to escape.
Translation by Kathy Boston