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 a B-version of the Italian Glamour export economy, the twenty-five-year-old unnamed narrator of Nicola, Milan is an international loner, watch checker, tip leaver, shit-talker, drifting from bar to airport lounge, taxi to hotel foyer, drunk and caffeinated at the same time, trying to explain to you the finer points of how to pitch an idea of Italy to Americans.
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 hustlers, 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.
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, and editor of Ideas from Massimo Osti . He attended Goldsmiths University in London, and moved to Italy in 2009 to work in the cycling industry.