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Aldo Busi: Vita standard di un ventidore provvisorio di collant (The Standard Life of a Temporary Pantyhose Salesman)

Busi turned up to the launch of this book naked. It created quite an impression. This book could be seen as a follow-up to Seminario sulla gioventù (Seminar on Youth). Angelo Bazarovi is a university student, somewhat older than Barbino in Seminario sulla gioventù (Seminar on Youth) (he is writing his graduate thesis). He lives with his mother and supplements his income by doing occasional translation and interpretation work. He has the same initials as his creator, which is presumably not coincidence. He is, of course, gay. Celestino Lometto is the head of a pantyhose company and hires Angelo as a translator/interpreter. Lometto is not a nice man. He is gruff, tyrannical and abusive but he is not bothered by Angelo’s homosexuality, provided it does not affect business. Lometto is married (to Edda) and they have three sons. Edda is a docile woman from the South, obedient to her husband and a caring mother. The boys are growing up like their father. Angelo accompanies Lometto on his travels, both in Europe and, finally in the United States. Much of the book is the strange relationship between the two men and Busi tells this tale very well indeed. However, the punchline comes when Edda is again pregnant and Lometto takes her to the United States, so that the child can be born an American citizen and become president. When the child – a girl – is born with Down’s syndrome, Lometto wants to have her killed. Angelo, well aware of what it means to be different, fights that decision.

This is Busi’s best novel. While he certainly does his bit for the gay cause, the relationship between the two very different men is the key and Busi does it very well. It may be a bit obvious, the sensitive, intelligent, caring homosexual and the nasty, stupid, callous heterosexual, but Busi does not seem to overdo it and you cannot help but sympathise with Angelo, whatever your sexual orientation.

Publishing history

First published in 1985 by Mondadori
First English translation in 1989 by Faber
Translated by Raymond Rosenthal.