Adriano Bulla’s The Road to London

To say this is a gay novel is like saying that the Bible is for Jews.  I mentioned this debut novel yesterday but the more I think about it and re-read parts, the more I want to talk about it because it’s so unusual and so good.  I’ve just finished Ken Follet’s latest doorstop which was entertaining but quite forgettable..  Ade Bulla’s little novel (only 154 pages) simply cannot be forgotten.  For the record it’s at

It is a tale of his journey to become the person he didn’t want to be and to be happy about it. At times a colloquial narrative and, at others, heroically poetic, it is a tale of a soul adrift on a sea of adolescent uncertainty, honest, quirky but accessible. The swings in style are marked by the same structure in each chapter but they are a bit like Picasso or Stravinsky – you’re constantly taken by surprise and find yourself enjoying the ride. The descriptive writing and dreamlike sequences are beautiful and his metaphors are original, unusual and so effective that you go back to absorb them again.

I think that anyone who writes should read this book that is both refreshing and dense.  The use of the English language as a paintbrush for ideas is exceptional, even more so when you know that Ade is actually Italian.  I was blown over.

Here are a couple of snippets to give you a taste:

I felt Michael lift me by the hand. I felt my friends’ eyes on us, I was proud. The Moon on us like a celestial spotlight, we rose like swans to meet the light. I felt my Mum, my Dad, Pat, the youth and their parents, the grey souls, the world, I felt their eyes on us, and I was proud. ‘Let’s run,’ he said, ‘let’s run.’ We turned to the silver light, ‘Go!’ Run, run. Run like the wind, run. Run to the end of the land, run to the sea, run to meet the rainbow, where it kisses the horizon. Run with the clouds, run, run to the sky. Yes, run!’ Hand in hand, we ran. Faster and faster to the top of the hill. Hearts beating faster, our faces drowned in the Moon. Like swans we rose, David and Daniel watching us. We ran, we ran. We ran past the glistening stage, ran past our friends, ran past our lives. Hand in hand, our steps quickened, the wind behind us, we ran to the west, where the land meets the sky, we ran into the light and yes: I could fly!
Where the land meets the sky, where the wind breathes warmer, closer to the stars, on the summit, I could see it all. Hand in hand, we saw the glittering fountain down to the left, and its million bright inhabitants. David and Daniel, like stars looking up to us, the vast marquee alive with youths and music spread behind them. The grey city moaned breathlessly to the right, asphyxiating dreams. Trees behind us spoke to the wind, the light of the night fell down on us, sky meeting land, light meeting darkness. Ahead of us, in the warm breeze, only light. We fell on the ground. The grass was soft. Drowned in the summer light, we hugged. I heaved. His hand in mine, I felt Michael’s foot rub my leg. From the back of the universe a spark crossed his eyes and drowned in my heart. His face was pale, his hair dark. Time stopped. The world watched. In the light of the Moon, his lips parted, mine answered. I yielded. Wind and wave, sky and land, it was all light. Our heads closed; we kissed.
Thunder strikes; the grey city shakes. Scolding the grey metropolis, thunder strikes, low, remote like a lost lament. Thunder strikes; the fierce wind sweeps the long grey avenues that lead nowhere, scraping the walls, chasing the smog into the ground. Thunder strikes; the land cowers. Steady, monotonous, the gale pillages the pavements, upsets the grey asphalt, knocks on the doors of the grey blocks. Thunder strikes; grey factories and office blocks shrink and hide. Hail, like fire from hell, blasts the grey towers, rain pelts the grey cars. The grey city lies supine, moaning breathlessly in the endless night. Thunder strikes; its fingers scratch the windows of the grey prisons, seeking a way in. Panes shatter, shutters scatter, tiles fly. Thunder strikes; like a crying child, the grey metropolis cowers and recoils. Silence. Thunder strikes; dark covering darkness. Its void boom echoing among the grey souls, shivering against grey walls and under the beds, awaiting the end. Thunder strikes, then lightning. Reaping the sky apart, like heavenly fire, for a moment, the grey city lies naked, defenceless in the light. For a moment, thunder is silent, the sky waits, the universe is still. Thunder and lightning, the universe opens and pours its rage onto to dormant giant. Thunder: the warning. Then lightning. Aeons of darkness break, a single light lashes the land. Amongst the million grey souls, lightning strikes. Lightning strikes, the city awakes. From nightmare to nightmare the grey souls raise their heads in silence. Thunder strikes, then lightning: cutting the endless night, light falls on a dream.
Nuff said.

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