Ciriaco Offeddu’s Thirty-Four Forms of Madness is a book full of verve and love for Sardinia. But love may take strange forms, as we, all grown up, have learnt to know with the passing of time. Love may become a reverie as well as chastising fury, whenever things don’t go in the right direction, or we discover injustices and bad faith hidden in our past, or waiting for us in the future.
The author of this book has been living most of his life outside his native city of Nuoro, in Sardinia and this may explains his nostalgic eye for a world which has since vanished. First, he lived in Turin, then in Milan and Singapore and now he calls home Discovery Bay, in Hong Kong. Ciriaco had been part of the legendary Olivetti team, which is being re-discovered in Italy in our days for having invented extraordinary machines – the modern computers just to mention one: by a team headed by a Chinese, Mario Chou – in term of hardware and design.
Then he went to work for several large companies as a consultant, but spending most of his free time reading and studying, thus keeping his literary flame lit into his heart.
Thirty-Fourt Forms of Madness, his newly published book, which I have read in three days, is something not easy to place into a standard literary category. It is a collection of short stories: part remembrance, part fiction as well as non-fiction, a sort of meditation on the author’s own youth during the Sixty.
As Robin Hemley writes in his introductory notes: “The book is filled with magic and mishap, tragic-comic to its core and consistently entertains as well as enlightens the reader to Sardinian history and lore. So Sardinia itself is a vivid character in the book, supported by a cast of colourful bandits, miscreants and fools that would have made Fellini proud.”
Right words, which summarise in a few lines the best points of Ciriaco’s book. I’ll close here with an unsolicited suggestion for Ciriaco: he should be the first to ‘vulgarise’ all this rich folklore, as Grazia Deledda did in her times, and create a Sardinian version of commissario Montalbano – had anybody ever created a Sardinian police commissar? No, I don’t think so, because Sardinians never created mafie or camorre – but then, in spite of the difficulty, I am pretty sure that Ciriaco’s future books will be best sellers all over the world.
Ciriaco Offeddu Thirty-Four Forms of Madness. Lascar Publishing, Hong Kong, 2016. 300 pages.
ISBN978-988-14198-2-8 USD 14.90