Monday, February 25, 2013

Pulp in Italy: An interview with author/editor/publisher Matteo Strukul, Part I

Matteo Strukul's Edizioni BD publishes Italian translations of comics, graphic novels, fiction, and non-fiction by authors including Dennis Lehane, Alan Moore, Joe R. Lansdale, Moebius, Michael Chabon, Warren Ellis, Stan Lee, Kazuo Koike, and Jacques Tardi. The Revolver imprint, of which he is line editor, brings hard-hitting authors such as Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Russel D. McLean, and Victor Gischler to Italian readers, with more to come from the likes of Charlie Huston and Christa Faust. He lives in Padua (Padova) in northern Italy's Veneto region and, when not publishing and editing, he writes. His first novel, La Ballata Di Mila, was shortlisted for Italy's Scerbanenco Prize. In the first of a two-part interview with Detectives Beyond Borders, Matteo Strukul talks about pulp fiction, Italian hard-boiled authors, comics, and his own discovery as an author by Massimo Carlotto. And, proving himself true kin to Detectives Beyond Borders, he has kind words about some of this blog's favorite Irish crime writers.

(Read Part II of the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Matto Strukul.)
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Detectives Beyond Borders: Talk about the Revolver imprint, about the authors you chose, and why you chose them.

Matteo Strukul: First of all, Peter, thank you for the opportunity that you have given to me. It's great to answer your fantastic questions. I’m honored. Now, about Revolver… Revolver is an imprint focused on pulp crime fiction. We love to collect fast-paced novels. Every story has to be a real roller-coaster, a furious, well-plotted patchwork of wit and wise guys, ultra-violence and thrills, and unpredictable, lunatic characters. For these reasons we chose authors like Victor Gischler, Allan Guthrie, Tim Willocks, Christa Faust, Ray Banks. Personally, I love all these authors who are completely crazy and original but all of them have an intriguing, fascinating, irreverent approach to the genre. We want to have authors who have courage enough to break rules and to have faith in their stories and characters, doesn’t matter how crazy and strongly cruel those stories are. 

DBB: Your online biography says you were discovered by Massimo Carlotto. How did this discovery happen?

MS: Well, I was at the international Book Fair in Turin (Il salone del libro) in 2010 and, of course, Massimo Carlotto was also there. I remember that I went to the E/O publisher’s stand and said to him that I have a novel for him. Well, it was incredible when he said that he want to read it, because, man, I was and am a real fanatic of his work. At that time I was press officer with an independent and well-reputed publisher: Meridiano Zero.  I organized press campaigns for authors like David Peace, James Lee Burke, Derek Raymond. So, of course this fact doesn’t mean that I was an author but means, without any doubt, that I had a strong background. For this reason, I mean, he was curious.  I wrote for “Il Mattino di Padova,” my hometown newspaper, so he knew who I was, because Massimo is from Padova, too. So I was very lucky, in fact. Anyway, after some months, Colomba Rossi, who was responsible, together with Massimo, for a new imprint at Edizioni E/O, called Sabot/Age, sent to me an e-mail. I remember she said that my manuscript was fantastic and the character of Mila was amazing. She said also that Massimo Carlotto was really impressed and so, after that, they told me that they want to have me on board as author for the new imprint. It was amazing! 

DBB: Italy has produced some excellent, dark crime writers, such as Leonardo Sciascia and Giorgio Scerbanenco. Besides Massimo Carlotto and Carlo Lucarelli (with the De Luca novels), who are the best modern-day Italian noir, pulp, and hard-boiled writers? And what does the Anglo-American tradition give Italian readers that they will not find in Italian crime writing? Who are your favorite writers, artists, and filmmakers from that tradition?

MS: Modern-day Italian noir, pulp, and hard-boiled writers are Giancarlo De Cataldo, author of Romanzo Criminale and many other novels. A bigger-than-life and epic criminal saga, a cruel, merciless, bloody and magnificent tale about Banda della Magliana: a gang of thugs and mobsters that during the end of the seventies created a criminal empire in Rome and Italy. The novel tells the story of the relationship between criminals and corrupted politicians in Italy at that time, with gangs fighting for the control of drug traffic, prostitution and gambling in the different quarters of Rome. Another wonderful Italian novelist that I love is Maurizio De Giovanni, author of the Commissario Ricciardi series set in Naples in the early ‘30s, a fantastic police-procedural series.

DBB: Your own first novel, La Ballata Di Mila, reminds me of Quentin Tarantino’s movie Kill Bill, which was based on a comic book. You also publish a novel by Victor Gischler, whose work sometimes reads like a comic book without the pictures. How do comics influence the fiction you write and publish?

MS: Comic books are a big inspiration for my work. More than this, recently I have written Red Dread, an arc, drawn by international artist Alessandro Vitti (Marvel), with Mila as the main character. The arc was awarded the “Premio Leone di Narnia 2012” as best comic-book arc of the year. But anyway, I love authors like Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Victor Gischler, as I said they are a big influence, in particular I think that Mila has a big debt to Ennis' The Punisher. When you read comics, sequences and cruel feelings like violence, anger, hatred, are literally graphic. I love to study the rhythm, the action, the storytelling. Comic-books and movies are a big inspiration for my work. For instance, Punisher stories like “Mother Russia” or “Barracuda,” by Garth Ennis, or “Welcome to the Bayou,” by Victor Gischler, are stylish visions of hell. You could taste (thanks to the amazing work of guys like artists Goran Parlov or Leandro Hernandez) reasons and motivations, souls and blood, and at the end of the story what you really think is that authors like Garth and Victor are able to go right to the point. No mercy on you, as reader, no fuckin’ cheesy lines.

DBB: A number of the authors published by Revolver write slam-bang, action-packed novels: Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Victor Gischler, and Christa Faust, for example. But you also publish Brian McGilloway, a quieter and more reflective writer than some of your other authors. How does McGilloway fit in with the publishing philosophy of Revolver?

MS: You know sometimes, we have to breathe. As you said, we love to publish action-packed novels, but at the same time we would like to offer different kind of crime fiction, different tunes and tastes, and Irish noir, for instance, is a wonderful new creature that, as publisher, we would like to show to the Italian readers. I hope to publish as soon as I can guys like Adrian McKinty or Stuart Neville but sometimes you cannot publish everything you want.
*
Practise your Italian at Revolver's Web site and at Matteo Strukul's own site. Read about Italy's best current crime writers, crime in northeastern Italy, and a new Italian literary movement and crime fiction festival, coming soon in Part II of Detectives Beyond Borders' interview with Matteo Strukul.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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26 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

Great interview. I'm particularly interested in learning of some of the Italian crime writers I hadn't heard of yet.

I do have to say that I don't tend to think of Irish crime fiction as quiet. But it's great that Strukel would like to publish Neville and McKinty.

February 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. Those names are coming in part two. I should find out how many of them have been translated.

No, Irish crime writing is not especially quiet, but McGilloway's writing is a log less slam-bang than Guthrie's, Faust's, or Gischler's.

February 25, 2013  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Brian McGilloway's series is fantastic. As I read the interview I was muttering, "McKinty," until I saw his name. Adrian's books can sometimes be seen as falling between the action and the thoughtful, so it seems they'd fit in perfectly here.

February 25, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Il dottore Strukul apparently agrees on McKinty. And I agree on McGilloway. But his series protagonist, Benedict Devlin, is a family man and a somewhat religious Catholic. McGilloway does a good job using that to build moral dilemmas for him. But he's not as close to the edge as the protagonists of some of the other books Revolver publishes and will publish. I'd say that speaks well the catholicity of Matteo Strukul's taste.

February 25, 2013  
Blogger Solea said...

Great interview! I hope it inspires you to (finally) read Carlotto's Il Fuggiasco, Death's Dark Abyss, and The Goodbye Kiss! I would ask Matteo what he thought of the book by Saviano, Gommorah?
I loved the book and the movie. I can't wait for part 2!

February 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, this could be the kick in the butt I need to finally read Carlotto. And I hope Matteo will look in and answer your question.

February 27, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solea Saviano is not bad but Giancarlo De Cataldo's Romanzo Criminale is amazing! Matteo

February 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks!

February 27, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter thank you! Matteo

February 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Prego, dottore! I have learned much from the interview. Padua is more than just the great Cappella degli Scrovegni.

February 27, 2013  
Blogger Brian Lindenmuth said...

I love that cover for La Ballata Di Mila. Is it available in English? Doesn't look like it. Any plans for a US release.

February 28, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The color and font on the cover look a bit like those nice covers from Europa Editions. It's Europa Edition with dreadlocks.

March 01, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Friends, at the moment The ballad of Mila is not available in english but i hope will be available soon, maybe even the sequel "Regina nera. La giustizia di Mila" that will be on shelves in Italy on 20th o f March! As i said there are good possibility that Mila will come to USA, i keep my fingers crossed!

March 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I hope it will become available in English soon too.

March 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In bocca al lupo!

March 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Matteo's view of Padua was an eye opener for me. I had previously known the city for its botanical gardens, its illustrious 800-year-old university, and its art. which includes the greatest work by the most important artist the West has ever known.

March 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Sounds like John McFetridge's work being an eyeopener about Toronto. Not that I know anything at all about the art scene there...

March 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Padua has sculpture by Donatello and frescoes by Andrea Mantegna, miraculously restored after being bombed in World War II. But mainly it has Giotto's frescoes in the Arena (or Scrovegni) Chapel. Western art as we know it begins with Giotto, and these frescoes are in marvelous, complete, vivid shape (or at least they were in 1995).

March 03, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Giotto is right up there at the top for me. I hope I manage to get to Padua some day.

March 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Matteo runs or helps run a crime fiction festival in Padua called Sugarpulp. I'd say such a festival in the city of the Arena Chapel would be the closest I could get to heaven while retaining my corporeal form.

March 03, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Very likely. You should probably try to go, although it might be wise to wait a few more years, just in case you are bodily taken up into the celestial regions.

March 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...


I should try to go because of something I missed on my first visit. That happened in 1995, when I hoped to see Donatello's altar panels at the Basilica of Sant'Antonio in Padua. Unfortunately, that year was the 800th anniversary of the saint's birth, so worshipers packed the church, and I couldn't get in. The nerve!

March 03, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

For some reason, Padua brings to mind a song lyric from a musical I'm not even sure I've seen. At the most, once.

March 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had heard of Kiss Me, Kate, of course, but not that song. I've just look up the show's song list, and it contains some of Cole Porter's celebrated songs, one of which I once pinched to write a headline about a weather story.

March 03, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Friends, i'm very proud to announce that Exhibit A, new Angry Robot's crime fiction imprint, will publish "The Ballad of Mila" and the sequel "Black Queen" in USA and UK and word english starting JULY 2014 (USA) and August 2014 (UK)!!!! Thank You Peter! Lucky me!

Here you are friends!!!

http://exhibitabooks.com/books/the-ballad-of-mila-by-matteo-strukul/

Matteo

August 31, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Here’s the link in handy, one-click form. And congratulations!

August 31, 2013  

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