In Uterus: Review

In Uterus: Review

In Uterus

We write these words after having finished reading In Utero, the latest novel by Gianluca Morozzi (Cut-Up Publishing, 2021) which has just arrived in the bookstore. Closing the back cover there is a sense of wonder, disorientation and - of course - horror. Morozzi told the life of Nikos Armero, his passion for writing and how this visceral love then collided with something ancient, demonic and almost unexpected for much of the duration of the book. You may be wondering: how, is it not a dark horror novel?

The answer is yes, but we can only tell you that the work packaged by Morozzi in a few hundred pages is much more.

In Utero, a story in history

Gianluca Morozzi, born in 1971, was born in Bologna, establishing himself as a writer since 2001 when he made his debut with Despero (Fernandel), with a large following made up of 35 novels and 250 short stories. If you want to find him in bookstores, his most recent publications are Andromeda (Giulio Perrone Editore), Prisma (TEA), the children's novel Starhammer the Destroyer (Gallucci) and obviously from March 18 this year his debut in the horror novel In Utero (Cut-Up Publishing).

In Utero tells us the story of Nikos Armero, a forty year old who wants to give meaning to his life, a limited existence in a tiny group of houses, a bar, a closed cinema, a football field and a cemetery. It is the silly soulless village of the lower Emilia, which Nikos has renamed as Spleentown, literally perhaps because it is too "melancholy" or lacking in any good humor of its inhabitants. Who knows. But in its greyness, it sounds very appropriate to me.

Nikos lives in Speentown with his mother Sylvia, a beautiful woman who was widowed too soon, with suitors even in that tiny village where she took refuge from the too big and chaotic Bologna, which instead remains Nikos' natural destination . Living in the same house, mother and son dissected it to both have the right and deserved living space. But the basement of the house remains an off-limit area: it was the kingdom of that father whom Nikos unfortunately never met, and under him there are only his “old junk”, so his mother explained to him. Despite the exclusive space, Nikos dreams of Bologna and a life as a writer ...

The passion for writing is shared with his friend Luca Graziani, who unlike Nikos manages to break into the literary field becoming a well-known celebrity. Nikos' turn would sooner or later come. He was sure of it. In the meantime, all he has to do is act as a queue for his writer friend, who knows that by staying in his orbit he will sooner or later be able to share the same famous destiny. In fact, something starts to move and Nikos's dreams no longer seem just dreams, becoming more and more tangible. At this point, we refer you to reading the captivating story by Morozzi, which in its simplicity managed to conquer us.

An unexpected horror

It is certainly evident that Morozzi has always dedicated himself to other genres. The volume consists of just over a hundred pages, and yet, the author has managed to project us very well into Nikos' life, telling shreds of his childhood and how he is linked to some characters of Spleentown, of his days in high school where he excelled. with his themes of Italian and his dreams with his best friend. Arguing that Stefano Fantelli who wrote the preface of this book (author of the recent anthology The Girl with the Glass Eye) is right, Morozzi is like a Fender Frontman 10G: an electric guitar amplifier with excellent value for money, precisely because with his simple and pressing prose he tells you a story as a good friend would do in one of the characteristic places of Bologna, sitting at a table sipping a pint of beer.

The narration is simple and essential, the form is short, but overwhelming in events, especially for those who love books and writing as the protagonist of the story, moved by his desire for redemption from provincial life, the missed loves. In Utero he is already passionate about the small ecosystem created for Nikos, but I assure you that before taking a decidedly horror turn, albeit in its brevity, it is necessary to go well beyond the middle of the book. A book that does not know that it is a horror and that only in the vicinity of its epilogue offers a disconcerting insight, opening glimpses of stories - even very well known - in the history of Morozzi.

There is no shortage of welcome in the work tributes, first of all to the beautiful city of Bologna, to the figure of Kurt Cobain (some musical references were to be expected, since Morozzi is also a good musician), some ideas from well-known films and cult comics such as Dylan Dog.

We would have liked to have had the opportunity to deepen some figures, such as the melancholic one of Iris or the supporting role of Sylvia even if she has been given a key role in the whole story. Without making inappropriate spoilers, as already mentioned, Morozzi brings up small but real historiographical elements, which together with the horror expedient used, in this context could also be explored, having greatly stimulated the reader's curiosity. Ideas that represent excellent material for a prequel.

A magnificent discovery is revealed in Utero, which introduces Morozzi to the best of the Italian horror scene after having explored other genres and the influences in this work can be seen. A simple narrative that could also appeal to non-lovers of the genre, while specifying the inevitable dark declination of the story in its epilogue. We recommend reading it while listening to Kurt Cobain's 1993 album In Utero by Nirvana (speaking of coincidences, the title of the work does not want to pay homage to the American group, although it is also mentioned in the course of the novel).

Per lovers of horror and Stephen King recommend the Shivers collection available on Amazon at this link.

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