Mirko Tondi, “Istruzioni di fuga per principianti”

Patrizia Poli
3 min readDec 13, 2021

For the way it stands, for the cultured citations, for the way it dialogues with the reader, it seems to me that this novel aspires to be a little more than it is. “Escape Instructions for Beginners” contains many cinematic clichés. The escape on the road, the stolen suitcase, the journey with the grandmother (which reminds us of Mimmo’s in “Bianco, Rosso and Verdone”).

The journey is very limited in space and time, lasts one day and one night only, winds through the Grosseto Maremma, from Amiata to the coast, and ends in Follonica, between chases and fugitives, Arabs, guns and money. The escape represents a temporary departure from what is the theme of the fifth chapter, the pivot of the novel, in which the leitmotif of “I’m tired” recurs. The protagonist’s tiredness is the same as all of us, we are tired of bad habits, of an alienating society, of people — our own relatives and friends — who never give us what we would like but rather exacerbate our loneliness, we are tired of what we cannot change and we are forced to accept, we are tired, in short, of things as they are. From there the gesture unthinkable until the day before, the waste, the opportunity that makes the man a thief, the rebellion, the theft of the briefcase that triggers a mini liberating path.

The protagonist Giacomo is a young furniture fitter, orphaned by a mother, tied to a girl who seems more like a friend than a real girlfriend. She is an intellectual, but he is rational and sees in life only a series of predictable numbers and theorems, until fatigue overwhelms him and decides to carry out a theft, in order to bring his grandmother, who raised him as a mother and who is to die, to see the mountains and the sea for the first time. The ninety-year-old grandmother is an immobile and taciturn character, and in her silence and in her inscrutable expression there is all the unspoken of the protagonist, his life, his memories, his feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Before dying, the woman squeezes a tear that symbolizes the abyss of feeling, the turmoil of the soul that no number and no consumer society can ever destroy, buy, alienate.

The ending has a touch of daring and recalls certain last acts of comedies of misunderstandings or films where everyone chases everyone — and here we are between Kerouac and Ciccio and Franco — but there is also a touch of “social question” with the reference to current issue of immigration and of those who speculate on it.

Patrizia Poli

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