Camere Separate, published in 1989, is different from Italian writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli’s Altri Libertini. It is more intimate, more precise, and limpid, but it possesses the same ability to build and give back to the reader a whole narrative cosmos. On one side, there are syntactically-broken-sentences, bold juxtapositions, linguistic exuberance. On the other, a crystalline and pitiless tale about the loss of one’s companion.
The end of youth
Camere separate opens with Leo’s image, mourning the death of his lover, Thomas, who died of an illness at the young age of 25. Leo is a famous writer, who travels Europe between conferences and social events; Thomas is a young and shy German musician. By Leo’s own choice, the two live their love through long pause moments, an escape that Leo has ensured on behalf of his solitude, which he defends at all costs. However, when they are together, the love with Thomas – absolute, feared, suffered – unfolds in its most mundane form, shining throughout the lenses of social relations, and the two feel complete, with Leo the star and Thomas silent and firm at his side.
But after the death of Thomas, Leo wanders, lost in the absolute nature of his pain, conscious of the words’ worthlessness. He even tries to go back home, to the Italian province of Emilia Romagna, hoping for an epiphanic moment of reconciliation with himself, but he condemns himself to go around like a flaneur even there, between religious rites and Easter celebrations. The end of a love like that is also the end of youth; it is like sinking, again and again, something visually expressed, for example, by David Hockey and his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).
Love and death at the core
By the author’s definition, the novel articulates in three movements, alternating flashbacks with pages of sharp reflections.
Love and death are the core: Eros, the Greek God of Live, Thanatos, of Death, and the fear of both. Camere Separate is the tale of a love story, experienced as passion, distance, desire, growth, loneliness, rebirth but complicated by the sense of social exclusion caused by homosexuality.
A love lived through separate rooms, the sublimation of a desperate search for balance in one’s existence, as individuals and as part of a couple. Written with a stylistic mastery reminiscent of Seminario sulla gioventù by Aldo Busi, Camere Separate is a painful and melancholic novel about the sense of abandonment and loneliness, a journey around separation.