Luigi Narsceni (quoted here) is that most hateful of creatures: a rich artist. Count Narsceni, I believe, is his full title; although, bless him, he seems quite happy to be called Luigi. How very kind.
Now why waste words on this foreign fancy-trousered money-pockets? Why indeed? Sadly, you can’t go anywhere these days without stumbling into a conversation about dear old Luigi. To say that his first novel, book, volume, collection of sentences – whatever you want to call it – is ‘all the rage’ would be somewhat of an understatement. The rage blows harder than a typhoon. Angry bulls look on in envy. The more raucous gods have a definite rival.
What is it about this work that has excited such enthusiasm? Is it the idle charm of the writer that thrills us so; the pathetic humanity of his multiple flaws? Boil off the moisture, strip things to their core, tear the clothes off the model – and what do we have? A memoir, essentially, about a man’s inability to ever finish anything. Or, more pertinently: an unfinished memoir about a man’s inability to ever finish anything. A boy and his collection of badly-shaped, half-constructed, battered and bruised toys.
Narsceni is nothing if not honest. Toys (for that is the name of the book) opens with a suitably frank, suitably clumsy confession of all the writer’s faults. ‘I have been writing for ten, fifteen, maybe even thirty years,’ writes our forgetful friend: ‘a period typified by one real quality: a complete lack of finish.’ ‘I have,’ he goes on, ‘started at least two hundred projects during this time. Not one of them has got far beyond the planning stage. Chapter Four was reached once. That is the zenith of my achievements. Four mouldy chapters’. What to do? It seemed obvious. ‘I decided I would collect my scraps, gather together my strange toys and present them thus, unfinished, to the public, with the invitation to judge them as you will’.
And judge them we have. But not, as one might have suspected, as badly as we might have. In fact, some might say we have been altogether too kind to Mr Luigi’s Toys. We might have laughed in the face of his thwarted projects and jeered his foolhardy attempt at redemption; instead, we have smiled, nodded and held forth, at length, on the many merits of his most ignoble tome. Why?