One of the most popular activities while traveling on a train is reading. Newspapers, books, magazines, whatever. I bet that everyone, at least once in a lifetime, has peeked into the pages of his/her fellow travelers. On Chicca Gagliardo’s blog there is a new column, started on January 19th, which deals exactly with this topic: we are talking about Lettori su rotaie. The author of this column is a young writer, Gabriele Dadati, who will blog every week the results of his literary observations on Italian trains. Intrigued by his idea, we interviewed him to find out more about it.
When did you start observing what people around you are reading while traveling?
I’d say during my first high school years, when every day I spent half an hour on the bus to go to and to come back from school. I watched what other people were reading: when I started to take the train, I did the same. Actually on the train the observation is easier, because there is more space in the aisle, there are table seats, people tend to stand up and have short walks and so on. Of course I also have a look at the books people are reading on the beach, in a public garden, on the street. And wherever I can.
How did you get the idea of putting your personal remarks in a blog column?
Chicca Gagliardo, not only a book reviewer for the magazine “Glamour”, but also a good and rare writer of the surreal (I’d say she is unique in Italy), told me: “I need more space. Must have a blog, I want to talk about books more and more. Give me a hand”. Never having the time for anything, I thought I could help her only with a series of coherent articles, based on a strong idea and with precise boundaries, because limits are the best place for freedom I know (and, as far as I know, the best place that does exist). The “rail readers” came to my mind because when I was thinking about the new column I saw a few unusual and surprising books while on the train, as I told in the first article.
Could you find a ´fil rouge´ which links you to these readers, who are unaware of your observations?
I’d say there isn’t one such thing. Actually it takes just a second: I get the title of the book, I write it down, then I go on with my stuff, which usually means reading something.
How do you feel when you recognize the titles and the plots of the books read by other people?
On the one hand, I feel a rare sense of completeness. It means, I think: “Ok, today this book has its own reader too. Hope every book has its own reader today”. I know it is a quite stupid and unproductive thought, but it is still my thought. On the other hand, sometimes I would like to know why that book and not another one, but this question is more unusual than you could imagine.
You are not only a writer, but also a reviewer and a publisher. Which kind of “eyes” do you wear when you peek into other people’s books?
These roles are all different but related, as if they were the blades and the tools of a Swiss army pocket knife. That pocket knife is always called Gabriele. I wear his eyes.
Rail readers (Lettori su rotaie),
where: Chicca Gagliardo´s blog, Ho un libro in testa
when: every Monday
the author: Gabriele Dadati (Piacenza, Italy, 1982) published Sorvegliato dai fantasmi – Watched by ghosts (peQuod, 2006; new ed. Barbera, 2008) and Il libro nero del mondo – The black book of the world (Gaffi, 2009). He studies the relations between art and literature from the end of 19th to the beginning of 20th century. He contributes to Booksweb.tv, the online tv about books by Alessandra Casella, and he spends his energy in Laurana publishing house project.