Nicola, Milan

It was the lies he told that reminded me of that past of mine that I hadn’t encountered in a while. He was telling me the kinds of lies where the teller implies that things that have only happened to him once are long-running habits. Things about too much whiskey, Céline and De Sade, eating alone in expensive Japanese restaurants, knowing nobody (this last fact he would continue to repeat in later meetings, it seeming more barbarously unreal each time). – from Nicola, Milan Vaguely employed as a brand strategist in the heart of the transnational art-fashion-cultural world, the twenty-six-year-old unnamed narrator of Nicola, Milan can spend hours at a dinner party parsing the difference between humor and irony, dressed a la mode in a dinner jacket and a pair of twenty-year-old sunglasses. He is just as acutely aware of the limits of boredom and taste, travel, and style: he is an international loner, watch-checker, and tip-leaver, drifting from airport to bar, taxi to motel. But when he meets the slightly older, richer, and worldlier Nicola, he becomes fascinated with him, seeing Nicola as a transcendental exemplar of the international-creative class culture he both envies and loathes. As the narrator stalks Nicola through the streets of Milan and its outskirts, what began as a casual friendship develops into an obsessive attachment, a crisis of identity connecting two drifters, and a struggle against the quiet oblivion usually hidden by the web of tics and affectations that constitute a personality. Combining a Houellebecq-like sense of the psychic malaise beneath the surface of contemporary cultural life with the dispassionate voice of a police report, Nicola, Milan tells a story of perverse, asexual frenzy emptying out into the void.

‘In the chosen land — a Milan full of bored rich people too dumb to know themselves — a man longs to know Nicola, a cruel and ineffable hustler. What’s it like to really ‘go home’ with Nicola? I could not turn away from the answer — trashy and female, dangerously hot. Nicola, Milan reads like a part of the secret literature that it wishes to penetrate.’ — Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead Semiotext(e)

Lodovico Pignatti Morano was born in London and grew up mostly in Australia. He is the author of Cinelli: The Art and Design of the Bicycle (Rizzoli New York, 2012), and editor of Ideas from Massimo Osti (Damiani, 2012). He attended Goldsmiths University in London, and moved to Italy in 2009 to work in the cycling industry.

Nicola, Milan by Lodovico Pignatti Morano
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