After the success of Dieci cose che avevo dimenticato – Ten Things I Had Forgotten – (Rizzoli), the journalist and writer Lucrezia Sarnari returns to the bookstore with the brilliant comedy entitled Vie di fuga – Escape routes – (Rizzoli). Giulia, a thirty-seven year old Italian teacher in a high school in Perugia, Mattia her husband, whit whome she has been married for almost six years, but she still is hungry for love and approval, and the seducer Carlo, a Milanese journalist. These are the protagonists.
They met in Rome, they inaugurate a clandestine weekend relationship in anonymous hotels in the capital, long phone calls and above all – of course – WhatsApp messages, as long as, out of nowhere, the internet crashes. Giulia is panicking: she fears that the thread that binds her to Carlo will break. She will have to deal with real life, no longer virtual, and ask herself if Carlo is only an escape route or instead it is really love, with capital “L”.
Vie di fuga is a choral novel that amuses and makes us think about the quality of today’s relationships. “Is the importance we attach to a person directly proportional to the time it takes us to respond to a message?”, “Does our true happiness depend on the blue ticks of a message sent?”, “How important is virtual life?” These are just some of the questions that the book offers to the reader for reflection and judgment.
And many girl will identify with Giulia, in her small neuroses, in her very complicated normality, in search of escape route from an existence that has become stingy with emotions. An escape that is well understood as a human need, to be supported at times, to understand what we really want – to understand each other, ultimately. Perhaps deep concepts, but offered by Sarnari with very pleasant lightness. Because the esape she’s talking about is a human moment of lightness, but special, to be dedicated to what makes us feel good, even if it is a confused passion, or a temptation. A moment that we could somehow feel like therapeutic.
We talk with Lucrezia Sarnari about escape and how love has changed in WhatsApp times.
How did you come up with the idea of writing Vie di fuga?
The idea was born during a business chat, there was talk of social and how much the speed of reaction had become a parameter to evaluate the goodness of the relationships we are experiencing. I thought that I had not yet read any novel that told a hypothetical “disconnection” and so I went to work to look for characters who could better tell this story.
What should an escape route be like? How would you define it?
In general, something that makes us breath when we seem to live in apnea.
How beneficial can an escape route be?
Personally, a lot. What I argue in the novel is that having some evasion thoughts, both working and relational, but in a broader sense that concerns all those lives that we have not lived but on which we like to fantasize, in the long run it can become functional to better accept existence that instead we find ourselves living and that, rarely, will be perfect from every point of view.
How much of Lucrezia Sarnari can we find in Vie di fuga?
I can only write about what I know, or because I experienced it directly or because I happened to experience it through people close to me. This does not mean that “Vie di Fuga” is an autobiographical novel, but that I draw inspiration from the reality that I always observe very carefully. Of course, mine is the syndrome of not feeling “never enough” with which Giulia is affected without, it seems, the possibility of recovery.
The protagonist of the novel is looking for Love with a capital L. Is it reality or utopia?
It depends a lot on what is meant by love with a capital L: Giulia is looking for emotions more than love, she wants to feel desired and live with only beginnings. Her idea of love is a very adolescent idea that hardly is synonymous with stability and lasting relationships. Each of us knows, or should know, what is really necessary for one’s well-being: love exists to the extent that we know how to answer the question: “Love, what is it for us?”
In the days of WhatsApp, can we still talk about romantic love?
Sure. What’s more romantic and poignant than a message saying “I miss you”?
At some point in you novel the connection jumps and it’s really difficult for your characters to come back to life. Have you ever thought about yours without the internet?
Yes, for as long as I spent writing the novel and I hope it never happens again. First of all, I would lose half of my works and then I really like evaluating the health of my relationships by the speed of response of the messages. Aside from the jokes, I believe that even in that case, we would be able to reinvent ourselves from scratch, establish new priorities and approaches: the real problem for me would be to do without Netflix.
How much has Lucrezia Sarnari grown artistically from Dieci cose che avevo dimenticato to Vie di fuga?
Artistically I don’t know, but I’ve learned a lot, which is still a little on writing. The first novel was written only from the belly, there was a different, more tiring but very rewarding work on the structure.