Bulla, Adriano. “The Road to London”, Netherworld Books, 2013.
How do we reconcile who we are? Adriano Bulla takes us on his journey to become who he did not want to be and to feel happy and with peace with himself. I have remarked that there are some authors who takes us with them as they experience periods of their life but I have never really felt it like I did with “The Road to London”. This is a story of surviving adolescence and it is written in some of the most gorgeous broken I have ever read. Descriptions are vibrant and the figures of speech are amazing, original and serve their purposes well. I do not remember ever having read a book that is so unique as this one is. The style is lyrical as we read of love and relationships, sexuality, drugs, alcohol, insecurity and the human soul and its need for satisfaction.
Our main character is never named. He was raised in Italy (Milan) and he begins questioning who he is at a very young age. He is in self-denial about his sexuality and hides in his own world, one of lies and deceit, booze and drugs. He wants to be like others as in his self-denial about his sexuality. He composes letters in his mind to s woman named “My Dear”.
If I had to choose one aspect of this novel that was really special, I would have to say quite frankly it is the language. When Bulla writes about sex it is from the heart and there is nothing gratuitous here.
I could easily indentify with the main character who cannot understand himself and who cannot maintain a relationship with the world that he lives in. This is why he creates his own world. He wants romance but knows he is not yet ready for it. He wants love but as yet he does not know to give it or receive it. Most of us have been where he is and we are reminded that in order to come out to the world, one must first come out to himself which he cannot do… yet.
He tries for “normality” which in his mind means going out with girls and sharing relationships with them but he feels nothing more than pain and that causes him to fall back into despair and suffering. I see him as a romantic while he does not know what he sees himself as. There were times that I wanted to shake him and have him move on but early I realized that such act would be futile.
Bucca mixes realism, surrealism, poetry and prose and as we read we see what his influences are. We are with the boy from childhood through his mid-twenties. Actually I was more than just with him, I was inside if him sharing his feelings, his fears and his aspirations. I saw touches of James Joyce, Jean Genet and Marcel Proust here and I was also reminded of the way William Faulkner used the stream of consciousness to bring us into his characters. There are those books that are most than just reads and they become experiences. Adriano Bucca wrote that kind of book; a book that I doubt I will ever forget. I was totally in awe of its humor and sensivity. The story is told episodically and with poetry, song lyrics and letters. I could wager that the author chose to write it that ay because our life happens in episodes and that is also the way we remember. I can only wonder how Adriano Bucca will be able to follow this up—it is truly brilliant.