Pier Vittorio Tondelli: Rimini
Marco Bauer is a journalist on an Italian newspaper in Rome, where he was worked three years. His boss decides to send him to the coastal resort of Rimini for the summer, where the newspaper puts out a special summer supplement. His job will be to manage and produce this supplement. Once he gets there, Tondelli launches into what he later described as an attempt to describe Rimini and the Adriatic Coast as a container of different stories – a fresco, perhaps a symphony of the Italian reality of that period and of the various ways – sentimental, dramatic, existential – of describing that reality. Bauer is surprised to find that Rimini (at least in the summer) is a kind of Hollywood-on-the-Adriatic, with a full range not only of sex-and-drugs-and-rock-‘n’-roll but of all the strange characters that inhabit Hollywood, both the real one and the one we see on the screen.
Strange characters drift in and out of the novel, starting with the young woman who blocks the highway till somebody gives her a lift and takes her anywhere (she doesn’t mind where) and, of course, it is Bauer who gives her a lift. Their destination is his first introduction to this other Rimini. From here, we also hear the stories of some of these characters, starting with the German antiques dealer who is looking for her sister and following on with others – the two young film-makers looking for funding for their film, the writer who has both personal and artistic problems, the sax player and his love and so on.
Does it work? Sort of. It has a great sound track (pity we couldn’t hear it), as the sounds of the 80s – from Bronski Beat to Talking Heads – permeate the novel. The stories are well told and link up, with Bauer flitting around the edges, jumping briefly into some, keeping his distance from others. And, yes, he does manage to convince us that Rimini is just as wicked (and just as much fun) as Hollywood. But I was left with the question – is that all?
First published 1985 by Bompiani
No English translation