To him we owe one of the most beautiful titles given to a crime novel: «Milanese kill on Saturdays». Which then is a perfect synthesis of the Milanese work ethic: during the week you work hard and have no time to kill. But on Saturdays yes. «An old Milanese always works, every day. If he does something wrong, he does it on Saturday”. This title would suffice to explain not only the affinity and close bond between Jorge Scerbanenco with the city of Milan, but also and above all the deep knowledge of its inhabitants and their vision of life.
However, it is precisely when he arrived in Milan, around the age of 18, that Vladimir Shcherbanenkoborn in kyiv in 1911, “becomes a foreigner”. Who feels the condition on the skin for the first time. When he, hesitant and shy, he has to explain that he was indeed born in Russia – of a Ukrainian father and a Roman mother – but that he only stayed there for six months. And when, to feel less alien, he changes the k in his last name to a c, and the first to his middle name, Giorgio.
However, although something of the foreigner always remains, it is his. Milan is the place of his training, where the wounds of a difficult childhood and adolescence, marked by poverty and abandonment, begin to heal; It was Milan that made him famous, that showed him the path that would lead him to become an established and esteemed journalist and “an authentic and indefatigable storyteller, in the lineage of a Georges Simenon or a James M. Cain,” he wrote. Oreste del Buono.
But the road is not short and the beginnings are hard. The first job is Borletti (on via Washington), then on Red Cross (in via Corridoni) as “emergency soldier”. Jobs to earn a living, which have little or nothing to do with him because they are reading and writing are his true passions. Devour books; fills in the gaps of his erratic studies in Libraries of the Castle and of Brera. AND writes, write, write (also for the «Corriere»). Until he walks in rizzolithen in via Carlo Erba, and made a career, becoming a gray eminence of women’s magazines (from “Bella” to “Novella”) and a prolific author of “pink” and “black”.
Beyond a hundred novels and more than a thousand short stories (with an avalanche of pseudonyms), in which personal Milan is intertwined with that of his stories, and feeds them. Especially in the four adventures of Duca Lamberti written between 1966 and 1969 -the year in which he died at the age of 58- and in the shorter ones that “odb” will publish in the book “Milanocali 9”, where the city becomes the protagonist. along with the characters described, “modest people, often even humble, who only thought of living, darkly, and darkly suffered or was happy.”
In the investigations of the doctor disabled for euthanasia, there is a desperate Milan, where crime, transformed from an old “bad” to “organized”, is ruthless. A city that Scerbanenco dissects with the writer’s scalpel, which portrays even the darkest and most controversial folds, in a continuous fight between outlaws and police.
These are the years of band of knights and of Luciano Lutrin that they have chosen it as the scene of their blows and that it shows in real time. She is a black-and-white Milan, daughter of the box headlines of the evening papers, “La Notte” and “Corriere d’Informazione” leading the way. A city of extremes, cold and foggy in winter, humid and hot in summer. “The sun also rises from time to time in Milan,” he writes in “Private Venus.” And in “Traditori di tutti”: “Noon is not the time to cross Milan by car, perhaps there is not even an hour, those who can refuse to cross it.”
This is Scerbanenco who accompanies the reader in its streets, in the center and in the suburbs, between places that no longer exist -the Ricci Pastry in Republic Square, the milanese bar in Cavour square, theGerman in via Manzoni, the lounge-bar of the Torre del Parco-, between victims and perpetrators.
After having inhabited it from via Orti to piazza dei Mercanti, from via Cadamosto to via Durini, from via Manzoni to piazza della Repubblica, in 1964 Giorgio Scerbanenco left Milan and he moved to Lignano Sabbiadoro with his last partner and the two daughters she gave him. But the city will remain with him forever: that city “beautiful for those who knew how to appreciate it” that she welcomed him as her son and that he reciprocated by loving her just as she was. In its most human and dark aspects.
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