Fourth novel and seventh book, Smoke Rings is my Zeitroman, i.e. a narrative that describes its time, a social novel. In the Italy of the years of the Long Crisis, between Rome and Milan, a group of fourty-something looks for a space and a sense of their own in a society that too often puffs them out like smoke rings: beautiful and well-finished but prone to dissolve themselves quickly. Our anti-heroes, both straight and gay, narrate themselves first individually, then collectively, in the heart of the "den": the home of the farewell party of Ivan and Valentina. Here everybody's stories merge into a generational story that speaks to the brain- and stomach-drain running away from Italy, more and more a Country for Old Men only.. And in the end the social novel becomes tinged with noir: at the party, a special gift causes distress to everybody and brings about an unexpected turn...
Audio and video:
Watch the interview by Eustachio79 at the Centro di documentazione Marco Sanna di Roma (January 31st 2015)
Watch the whole presentation edited by Eustachio79 and with Saverio Aversa at the Centro di documentazione Marco Sanna di Roma (January 31st 2015)
"However, in Gastaldi’s writing there is something that usually canonical generational novels miss. [...] The traditional generational novel has the characteristic of sketching a series of masks that are made at most of two traits. Conversely, the atypical generational novel—and I shall add, the well-written one—does exactly the opposite: it defines the details of the background up to make them shine of a crystal clear light of their own; i.e. it avoids any cliché. This is precisely what happens in Anelli di fumo. The characters are souls that could not be more alive. They are deployed between Rome and Milan, and along the story they will gather for a farewell party in an apartment in Ostia, a sea-side town that in Winter times becomes “una casa di riposo a cielo aperto”, i.e. “an en plein air nursing home”. Their characterization is embroidered in a minute way, from the ticks and tantrums to the regional accents-diversified language—and here the literary rendition is truly outstanding—enriched by city-varied slangs. The novel takes a comedy-style rhythm, the kind of Italian comedies capable of retaining a bitter aftertaste, and offers a complex merging of irony and a sense of uneasiness à la François Ozon."
Andrea Pomella, Il Fatto Quotidiano.it, February 3rd 2015.
"Progressively, the Milanese and Roman plot intertwine, up to a fateful December the 8th, in which all chickens come home to the roost and it seems as being in the middle of a principal scene of a comedie of the best Monicelli."
Valerio Lanzani, Pride, March 2015.
"Un nuovo Compagni di scuola per ora solo di carta, ma non c'è dubbio che presto potrebbe diventare un racconto scritto con la luce. E al film di Carlo Verdone il romanzo Anelli di fumo di Sciltian Gastaldi fa pensare molto, come quello è il ritratto della generazione dell'autore."
Paolo Di Vincenzo, Il Resto del Carlino, 10 aprile 2015.