Gabos (artist and writer)
hard to talk about a story which describes the life of a young guy
from Cagliari, in Sardinia, during the mid 1970s, in a time influenced
by the euphoria from winning the national soccer championship by the
Cagliari team, comics and the discovery of sex. Its hard and
also a bit embarrassing because the author of this review being
of the same age as Gabos -lived the same kind of life in those years
as the protagonist of Gabos story. Therefore, its inevitable
to feel somehow familiar and involved with the places and the people
(despite their different names) described in the story. In "Loving
the Alien" (title of a song by David Bowie), Otto Gabos, whose
name in real life is Mario Rivelli, gives life to Oberdan, a Sardinian
guy who has moved to Bologna, his alter ego. Oberdan, who lived in
Cagliari in 1975, is a typical young guy of that time. He is going
though a phase in life when hes bothered by raging hormones.
His first hair has grown above his lip, he has confused ideas about
the opposite sex because of some misleading reading and has to deal
with the reality of his time. Hes living the phase in life in
which everybody feels awkward, a bit isolated and incredibly clumsy
and inept (in Cagliari slang, "un soggetto", a nerd).
Gabos/Oberdan recalls events of his life at random, suddenly shifting
from past events to his current life, from reality to dreams and vice-versa.
He recalls the major events in his life (his Subbuteo games, his collection
of super-heroes comics) which are the same as his entire generation,
a generation which doesnt have to deal with the "dark years"
of terrorism. At that time his main concerns in life were to wear
a Lacoste T-shirt and wear out his blue jeans because "they look
better when theyre worn out".
Gabos shows himself to be a mature artist: as he always delivers clever,
well-articulated and highly readable cartoons. However, his writing
doesnt reach the same level as his art. To make things more
complicated, this long flashback to growing up in Cagliari has been
included into the "Camminatori" saga, which the author has
been developing for a few years.
The occasional reader may find the story complicated from the beginning,
as no introduction is given. Finally, the story breaks up into many
other micro-stories with no real main plot, capable of supporting
all the sub-plots. The missed "landing of the aliens from Venus",
of which reference is made to in the story, was also reported by the
Sardinian press in 1975. This should be the main story, which works
as the background to the protagonists story. However, although
this link is highlighted to the reader a few times, it never really
works out. The landing of the aliens seems to anticipate a spectacular
ending which doesnt happen and as a new event is introduced,
the story abruptly ends.
However, a positive is that the story is lightly narrated and successfully
describes the teen-agers crises with the right amount of irony
and tenderness. Finally, Id like to point out a curious coincidence:
the flying saucers are also mentioned in another autobiographical
story by another Sardinian author: Bepi Vigna. His personal memories
are somehow introduced in one of the stories of the Nathan Never series
"Lestate dei dischi volanti" (The summer of the flying
saucers, published a little while ago on the science fiction album
Almanacco della Fantascienza).