“C.dare you write? ” Dario asks me. “I’m rewinding the film of my life” I reply without taking my eyes off the computer. I was born in Udine, in the house where my mother had lived, with her mother, before getting married. Start like this A novel in twenty houses and a garden (Gaspari publisher) by Caterina Zaina. The twenty houses in which he lived are the concept and the fil rouge of this delightful memoir in the bookshop now.
Writers who made their debut at the age of 80
Zaina, wife of the Milanese writer Carlo Castellaneta and journalist at the time of Enzo Biagi, tells of removals, separations (of her husband who had fallen in love with another woman), of houses where paintings suddenly fell (in via Vivaio, in Milan. lived the writer Margherita Sarfatti, one of Mussolini’s lovers) and friends like Giorgio Strehler who he wanted to take to the theater Nights and fogs of the writer friend, without anything being done about it.
With a light rhythm, but precise as a journalistic caption, she summarizes her life that took her from Udine to Milan, before returning to Friuli where she now takes care of the garden of her house, in Porpetto, in the third period of her life.
Yes, because Zaina is 80 years old today. And the book marks his debut in fiction. She too was the companion of a writer, she had never thought of a novel “on her own”. Then she one day she felt the need. And now she presents him, happy, between bookstores and literary salons. “I also like the idea of keeping there alive memory of Castellaneta to which I hope that the municipality of Milan will sooner or later dedicate at least one street “ confess.
In Frezza he published Bugie di famiglia
It is not a trend, but we are close to it. Because there are more and more authors who make their debut “late” in life, after completely different existential and professional paths. Virtually retired. The latest is Nella Frezza with his Family lies (Salani).
Eighty years old too, she worked as a teacher and pedagogist, mother and grandmother, before realizing that she had a story in her head for most of her life. She exploded inside her after a Spanish course to communicate with her future daughter-in-law. Year after year it has developed into a novel.
“Not knowing how to do it, I went online to look for a literary agency to correct the text for me and instead the book came out. I didn’t aspire to that much, but now I’m happy to be able to measure myself with this new dimension ». And if there is no need to name the well-known case of Andrea Camilleri who achieved success at the age of seventyi with Inspector Montalbano, the real basic question is: what motivates authors to take the manuscript out of the drawer, to write memoirs or poems at retirement age?
“Are we kidding? Authors of this age are lucid and write very well. They have a certain taste for words, they started reading and writing with beautiful writing exercises, all their lives they picked up books and read the classics. If they decide to write it is because they have something to tell, an experience, a lived experience, and they want to develop it to communicate in the present what they have learned “he comments Bianca Borriello, professor of Writing for social media at the IULM in Milan and collaborator of the University of the Third Age in Siziano, Pavia.
«The ladies of my courses have a refined competence. And often theirs is an investment in personal storytelling, if we want to call that vocation ».
There is no time to be sad
Among the writers who made their debut at the age of 80 emblematic is the case of the sparkling ninety-two year old Licia Fertz who, during the lockdown, published the memoir No time to be sad for DeAgostini. After her husband died, she fell into depression. Until her nephew, Emanuele Usai, very close to her, offered her every day to portray her in a photograph of her. Little by little she got involved with an Instagram account (@liciafertz) and with the blog “Good morning grandmother” making her become a phenomenon with over 176 thousand followers.
“Writing, putting my thoughts together, dealing with people and still feeling useful made me rejuvenate” says Fertz, who defines herself as a “Trieste mule” and who at the last medical check-up saw a marked improvement in his cardiology exams.
With his nephew he writes inspirational content “To scream to the world that old age is not a disease and that women’s beauty does not expire like yogurt”. “I wrote my story to encourage women to live this age with courage.”
In the meantime, he marched for LGBT rights in Viterbo and already has in mind the new book on “journeys of the heart”. «I would like to return to visit Trieste, London, Sicily. I can’t wait to tell and share them to make it clear that at eighty and ninety we are still alive “he announces enthusiastically feeling proud part of that current phenomenon called Greynassance (gray rebirth) which includes icons such as Maye Musk, 69, Daphne Selfe, 89 or Iris Apfel (100 years old).
Cleide Bartolotti, 82, from Domodossola, on the other hand, a few years ago she was even nominated “writer of the year” by the online cultural magazine Pangea for her book L’Uovo di Legno – by Cleide (Ed. Il Vicolo). Because it was not her first novel, Cleide confessed that she was inspired by a passage from the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
“Now I’m working on my new opera, Livi. I was inspired by a series of letters exchanged with a friend. However, I hope to soon find a publisher who seriously promotes me, I can’t do everything myself “he tells us from Modena where he lives. Cleide has always read a lot and did all kinds of jobs before turning to writing. «I write straight away, sketch ideas in pencil and then calmly report them on the computer. I also dedicate a lot to historical research ».
Writers who make their debut (not) at 80, but at 100!
Sometimes the 80-year-olds themselves inspire books made by other “over”. How the Dutch Hendrik Groen (68), who became an editorial case (they also made a TV series of it) writing about the adventures of the “83 and 1/4” pensioner in a hospice in Amsterdam in the book Little experiments with happiness (Longanesi). The American writer Judy Gaman in Love, Life and Lucille (She Writes Pr) has revealed, however, his (true) friendship with the centenarian Lucille.
The two women, before Lucille’s death at 103, shared a tour to present the memoir in the United States between television studiosi, podcasts and live radio broadcasts. Lucille, Gaman tells on Skype, always showed up with a colored ribbon on the wig she wore.
“He taught me to take the time to be happy. I ran from side to side thinking I was doing the right thing. She came from Canada in 1929, in the middle of the Depression, she has been a nurse all her life. He had a high sense of community at a time in which we no longer even pay attention to the sense of family. His cheerful wisdom changed my life “. And if this were the key recipe that moves the writer in the third time of existence?
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