Missiroli’s perfect poise is designed to give you two specific impressions.
First, that he, as a writer, has deep knowledge of the human soul, even though he is not yet 40 years old.
Second, to show that first impressions matter and can help calm the nerves of a person being abruptly addressed.
Missiroli does not shy away from addressing global issues. For him, there is no room for neutrality or indifference when it comes to issues such as climate change. In order to address such problems, one must be equipped with knowledge and learn about their causes.
The clouds rest on the tops of the mountains, but the cracks are open. A frustrated Missiroli vents about the melting ice in the Alps.
“I spent a week there,” he continues, waving his hands as the Italians do, “after a long vacation on the shores of Versilia, to get inspired for some scenes in a novel."
"I don’t know when I will write, but it will surely be a metaphor for a looming catastrophe that we have, so far, done so little to stop," he added in a nod to climate change.
You moved from the stage of learning how to write, to the stage of teaching how to write at the Scuola Holden (Holden School) for Creative Writing.
You are now teaching alongside your former teacher, the great writer Alessandro Barricco, the author of The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean (in Italian: La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano). How would you describe this experience?
It wasn’t easy balancing both reading and writing, but I undoubtedly paved the way for many young men into the world of narration through the Holden School.
I like teaching a lot, probably because my mother was an elementary school teacher, so it’s something I grew up with.
Since I started in November 2014, every class and every student has given me something. I have had the pleasure of teaching some exceptionally talented and creative students.
Writing helps in personal development, and I’ve witnessed incredible transformations of students on both a human and personal level.
You find yourself in front of a person in whom you see huge and unlimited potential.
When something like this happens, when passion takes over, a student who could be at a lower level in his/her literary abilities can become the best writer with a bright future.
That's why I have a very patient approach with my students, and I wait until the last minute for them to reveal themselves.
Your novel Fidelity won the Strega Youth Prize. How important is this recognition to you? Do you feel like your works are inspiring more people to read, especially younger people?
Well, regardless of the Strega Prize, I always feel responsible towards young people — not so much through the morals and qualities I put in my books but the language and the usage of my words.
Anyone who reads my books should know that I choose my words carefully and, therefore, I feel a strong sense of responsibility for the language, and I try to convey that feeling to the readers in all possible ways.
And why exactly the theme of fidelity? Is it a game of opposites, I mean, marital infidelity as a minor sin?
No. Not at all. It all stems from a “misunderstanding” that plagues the relationship between Margherita and Carlo that jeapordises their marriage. Life, up until that point, had been calm and ‘happy’.
They are a young couple in their 30s, both of whom have decent jobs, but many things make them give up their dreams.
Margherita leaves her career as an architect and opens a small real estate firm, and he is an ads editor and a college professor — a chair he won thanks to his father's influence, after giving up a dream to be a writer.
One day, Carlo recounts that he was seen in the university bathroom with a student, Sophia. The incident sparked a rumour about a possible relationship between the two.
Carlo explains that the girl felt unwell, and he just helped her, saying that what had happened was really a misunderstanding — but tension starts developing.
The possibility of betrayal becomes an obsession for both.
Carlo feels guilty towards his wife, because he is drawn to something that can make up for what he is missing. Margarita starts to imagine Carlo's infidelities and her suspicion makes her investigate his life.
Does resisting temptation mean being truly loyal? Would you betray yourself with this concession?
During a physiotherapy session, Margarita meets Andrea, who, in his subtlety, provides her with the key to answering her questions.
It is a temporary solution, of course, because the questions remain.
Your mature approach to writing has, from the beginning, drawn the attention of critics and the literary community in general. I wonder, is this due to your critical formative readings or to your qualified teachers?
I always think of the writers who inspired or influenced me before I started writing.
By this I am referring, undoubtedly, to specific American literature, produced by great writers, such as William Faulkner, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos.
I also hold the French in high regard: Guy de Maupassant and Marcel Proust — the latter of which I intensely read.
It got me thinking about the problem of language and the problem of perception and I became unsatisfied with what I wrote.
In fact, I am not always satisfied with what I write.
One of the things that I have loved so much about my career is that I always try to instill a new element into one novel that was not there in the other.
I have never tried to replicate the same work, and this can be seen by the very violent effect produced by the novel Fidelity in comparison to the other novel Obscene Acts in a Private Place, which I wanted to be a book about timid people, about those who stand on the edge and then explode.