Friday, April 26, 2024

6 Books with Francesco Dimitri

Francesco Dimitri is a prize-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, a comic book writer and a screenwriter. He published eight books in Italian before switching to English. His first Italian novel was made into a film, and his last was defined as the sort of book from which a genre 'starts again'. His first English novel, The Book of Hidden Things, a critical and commercial success, has been optioned for cinema and TV. After his second, Never the Wind, the Fortean Times called him 'one of the most wondrous writers of our time.'

Today he tells us about his Six Books.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I am reading a few books at once, which these days I find myself doing more and more. One is Anthony Grafton's Magus, a splendid cultural history of the figure of the magician from the Renaissance on. Then I'm almost at the end of Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass, an ingenious book on the ways in which indigenous knowledge and a modern understanding of nature could go hand in hand: this kind of thinking is necessary, with an environmental crisis unfolding around us. We have read and written tons of books about saving the world, and it's time to start doing just that. Also, on the novel front, I'm halfway through Jennifer Thorne's Diavola, and I'm having the time of my life with it.

2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

That must be Paul Tremblay's Horror Movie. It's Paul Tremblay plus horror movies. Come on. You know that feeling that a book was written just for you? There you go.

3. Is there a book you're currently itching to re-read?

I am always itching to re-read old favourites! Re-reading a book is like going back to an earlier stage of your life, and look at it from the point of view of now: it is a form of time-travelling only for readers. The next one is One Hundred Years Of Solitude. That novel is a Tardis: bigger on the inside. It has so much humanity, so much magic, so much humour, so much tragedy—you read it and you're having a parallel life, for a while.

4.  A book that you love and wish that you yourself had written.

Clive Barker's Imajica, hands down. It is large, meandering, sensuous, violent, esoteric, magical, strange, political, queer, ahead of its time. A story of our world, other worlds, magicians, gender, and So. Much. Sex. Barker was doing more than thirty years ago what far too many lesser epigones are trying to do now. And yet his name has been almost forgotten, outside of a small circle of people. I wish folks had better memory. And selfishly, I wish I'll write something as good as Imajica one day.

5. What's one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

The Lord of the Rings; and it's also the book that has a special place in my heart. I read it when I was ten. I had to insist with the bookseller to buy it, and I only managed because my parents helped me out: he thought I was too little to appreciate it. But appreciate it I did, massively. My writing is nothing like Tolkien's, and I'm not especially interested in writing that sort of fantasy. The influence of The Lord of The Rings runs deeper than that. Tolkien showed me the beauty of reality reshaped, and I've been chasing after that beauty forever after.

6. And speaking of that, what's your latest book, and why is it awesome?

The Dark Side Of The Sky. It's a strange, hopefully immersive, book. It is centred on a commune living on a Southern Italian beach. They might or might not be a cult, and they might or might not be humankind's last hope. The book is written like an oral history, told by a few key members of the commune. I have real-world experience researching both cults and magic, and I poured all of it into this book, to make it feel as real as possible—like a true oral history. It's somewhere between horror, magical realism, and thriller. More than a few episodes in the book are quite close to things I have seen and done. Now that I think of it, that probably only goes to show that I did lead an odd life so far.

Thank you, Francesco!

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I'm just this guy, you know? @princejvstin