Marco Campogiani, “Smalltown boy”

Patrizia Poli
4 min readSep 19, 2022

When we were Us, and the world stood outside, everything was light, and as if slippery, while now I can’t take a step.”

In the end, they are still Babi and Step, in the end it is still “another love story”. And yet …

“Smalltown boy”, by Marco Campogiani, finalist at the XXVI Calvino prize, is part of the trend of young adult love but, above all, of the search for sexual identity, now so much in vogue. It does so with a slight, almost tragicomic attack, as if we were, in fact, still “three meters above the sky”, then, however, it grows towards the inner excavation, towards the acceptance of the ineluctable, towards suffering, towards the ‘being forced to measure himself against the yardstick of so-called normality, with the “other than himself”.

Davide Guizzardo falls deeply in love at fourteen, with a dramatic absoluteness, superior to his age, and his love is as tragic as Romeo’s. But the soul mate is not Juliet, but Guido, the friend with whom he usually plays football and talks about girls. Guido is handsome, strong, athletic, he is the champion everyone wants. Guido is homosexual, Guido has a twin, Martina, considered by all to be weird, dark, lonely. Martina is also homosexual and she loves Cristina whom everyone believes to be Guido’s girlfriend. To be together, Davide and Guido, Martina and Cristina, will have to pretend to conform, to become in the eyes of the world what society requires. “To be. How. The. Other.”

Thus a comedy of misunderstandings will be born, a strange intertwining between the four youngsters, where Davide will pretend to be with Martina, while Guido will show that he is Cristina’s boyfriend. In reality, real couples will be homo and not straight.

As we said, the story starts with a light tone, at the beginning homosexuality is just an eventuality, an exploration in the context of a confused age, of which all the potentials are tested. Davide, Guido, Martina try to be like everyone else, they test the sensations of their body and the emotions of their heart in contact with the other sex, but love has a vital, playful upper hand. The young people accept what they can no longer hide or reject, they live in a bubble isolated from the rest of the world, they create their own alternative space, a secret garden where they cultivate their personal happiness. “God how beautiful we are, I think.

But their external and internal beauty is not understood, it must be denied.

Patrizia Poli

Patrizia Poli was born in Livorno in 1961. Writer of fiction and blogger, she published seven novels.