Monday, 28 May 2012

Milano! Milano!

I went to Milan. Big gritty sexy glamorous Milan. The city that I say on the back of book is 'as unfeeling as a Prada bag'.

Well it's not, always. It was a warmish, windy-ish day and as the train pulled into the iron-girdered cavern of the Stazione Centrale my stomach was writhing with hunger. I had forgotten the novel I am reading and stubbornly refused to buy a useless magazine, so I had been sitting for over two hours trying to furl away my brain, watching the fields, watching co-travellers, enjoying non-thought.

Loverly. Next, I tucked into Milan. There is a scene in DLC where Marilyn walks into the Duomo, walks across part of the Piazza del Duomo, then walks into the chic Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele. It's been a while since I did that. Most of my expeditions to Milan now involve passport renewal at the Consulate, shopping trips or catching up with friends who have escaped the slower provincial life. But today I wanted to see the city - at least part of it - through Marilyn's eyes.

'...I ascended the steps of the Duomo station and came out along the pale flank of the cathedral dusted in fumy morning light. The stonework stretched upward in tiers of ever-tightening pinnacles, that made one want to weep with their divine force. I thought of the construction: men on ladders tied together with rope; men with chisels. I thought of women in strange head garments looking up at the fandangled building at the end of the street. Wispy stone spans bounced between the spires, and the spires themselves looked plastic...'

'...To the right was the spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, a luxury shopping arcade funnelling through to the famous opera theatre, La Scala. I walked under the high glass vault criss-crossed with iron girders, pausing beneath the opaque dome with its wintry light. A shiny black Porsche was cordoned off on a pedestal and a girl in gold hot pants handed out brochures with a high octane smile. Pedestrian traffic meandered in every direction... Despite an undercurrent of vendors with football scarves and the unsightly presence of a McDonalds on a corner, all actors were meticulously rehearsed and I was grateful Fiona had pooh-poohed my old jeans..'

It was childishly sweet, standing there in the crowd, amongst the tourists holding cameras and Ipads above them, filming girls posing before the sanctuaries of Prada and Louis Vuitton, to think that Marilyn could have been standing to one side watching too, feeling out of place, wondering how to understand this city. I looked out for her, rather sillily. I think I almost did.

The big HUGE thrill of the day is that the book is now on sale at the AMERICAN BOOKSTORE in central Milan (Via Camperio 16, Largo Cairoli), an elegant stroll away from where I imagine Marilyn was standing.

10 comments:

  1. Yay for American bookstores!!

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  2. Cat,
    Your writing is just beautiful.
    Congratulations on DLC being at the American bookstore! I hope you stopped by and accidentally faced it out...

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    1. Lyra thank you! I'm so pleased too. Milan is the city of Marilyn's rebirth and though I didn't it years ago when I lived there, I can now appreciate its grace and sophistication. I think a few more afternoons will be spent there browsing bookshops and checking out the crowds. Xxcat

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  3. What a strange, heady experience, to stand where your own character did/does/has/will in your parallel universe! Love it :)

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    1. Yes it was cool and funny at the same time. I did feel very silly grinning there!

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  4. What fun, to walk the streets of a beloved character and see the world as she did. Especially when those streets are in Milan! And YOUR BOOK is there too!!!

    Oh, Cat, I'm so happy to think of you in the midst of it all, and so glad you're writing it all down.

    XO

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    1. Thanks so much Averil. I have a feeling you will be buzzing with it too some time soon. That sense of looking over your character's shoulder now that the work is done. Which is so different from conjuring it all into place!

      I should have photographed the cool bar and proseccos afterwards - next time!

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