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BatiGol Weekly 255: Wrapped up in books

In which we discuss reading, Serie A teams, and recommendations.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford, Oxford University, Uk
Our aspirations are wrapped up in books.
Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When I moved to Seattle, I sold all of my books. That was absolutely the right decision since we wouldn’t have had space for them in our new apartment and also because packing and then unpacking that many books (I didn’t count but I’d guess there were about 500) is stupid. It sucked at the time, but in hindsight it’s been a huge blessing. I now own maybe four books and just use the library whenever I need to rather than buying used copies and stashing them around the house.

Right now, though, I’ve got some regrets. The library’s closed and the only way to get new books is to beg them from family members or buy them myself, which leads to the precarious stack on my bedside table that I’m going to have to give away when this is all over. As I stew over my lack of reading options, I’ve put together a list of books for every fanbase in Serie A.

Atalanta: The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This is about as fun a book as you can get, full of antiheroes who don’t care that they’re not sympathetic pulling off swashbuckling capers. If that doesn’t reflect Gian Piero Gasperini’s unfashionable but absolutely enthralling bunch, I don’t know what does.

Bologna: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Sometimes I have a good explanation. Sometimes it’s just an Oscar-Mayer joke. This is one of those latter times.

Brescia: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. An exquisite memoir about one of the worst years anybody’s ever had that somehow turns all the horror into something clear and flawless and important.

Cagliari: Absalom! Absalom! by William Faulkner. All about an insular community with some endemic toponyms that outsiders can barely pronounce (Yoknapatawpha County is right next to Portixedda, right?), the densely-written novel can be as tough to break through as a Rossoblu defense. And, of course, there’s definitely some racism.

Fiorentina: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Yes, it got turned into a show. Yes, the books are better. This is a really good book that tracks the progress of a talented, flawed, and frequently frustrating young man who encounters few challenges that aren’t largely self-imposed. When you add the magic, the humor, the openness, it all makes you think of a certain purple club, no?

Genoa: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The eldest Brontë was the first in her family to publish, and although she got panned by critics initially, hindsight has allowed us to see that maybe she was okay. Nice fit for Italy’s oldest club.

Hellas Verona: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Batman is maybe a little bit more popular than the Mastini, but this particular storyline fits them perfectly. Batman returns to crimefighting as an older man, matching the return of Hellas to Serie A after a lengthy absence. The ultra violence fits neatly in with the ultras’ reputation, but not as much as Miller’s well-documented ultra-right views.

Inter Milan: Water Music by TC Boyle. This rollicking historical novel tracks two young British men from different classes and places as they navigate the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Just like Pazza Inter, circumstances change in a heartbeat, sending both surging upwards or tumbling downwards or maybe doing both together. By turns grim, hilarious, and uplifting, it’s a perfect match for Nerazzurri fans who feel their outfit doesn’t get the recognition it deserves these days, just as Boyle himself is frequently overlooked as a truly great writer.

Juventus: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It’s boring and repetitive and popular with people who have bad ideas who will try to bludgeon with arguments for why it’s totally the best and most important book ever. I’ll spoil it for you. All those arguments are wrong.

Lazio: The Cantos by Ezra Pound. I wrote my senior thesis on Ezra Pound and cannot imagine a less appealing character. I also detest his poetry, if we’re being honest, but not as much as I detest his politics. I still have to admit that the Cantos are pretty important to Western literature, as much as it pains me. And given the state of the average Lazio fan (in fairness, we know a few who are actually smart and thoughtful and really lovely people and this is in no way directed at them), a bit of ultra-cultured, referential poetry would do them good.

Lecce: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Reasonably fun, fairly clever, but certainly flawed and ultimately an unnecessary effort.

AC Milan: Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. A historical novel about stage magic, the sudden demise of a president, and the very devil. Combine those episodes and you’ve pretty much described Milan.

Napoli: The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. The bestselling Italian novel of all time is set in Sicily, not Naples, but it begins in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, so we’ll call it close enough. It’s a dang classic and provides a fantastic look at the end of the monarchy on the peninsula. It’s just good, man.

Parma: Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen. You know what you’re getting with Hiaasen: middle-aged dudes with good-looking women, really detestable villains, and soundly-plotted but manically-executed farce revolving around environmental mismanagement in Florida. I went for Skinny Dip, but it really doesn’t matter. That’s sort of Parma, isn’t it? You know more or less what you’re going to get but it’s still well worth it at times.

AS Roma: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The difficulty of adapting to American culture is a topic of constant discussion for the Giallorossi, so let’s lean into that and add the constant movements of characters in and out of the story as a nod to Roma’s inability to hang onto talent.

Sampdoria: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. The youngest Brontë, who had her work repressed by Charlotte after her death, is now held in similar regard to her better-known sister.

Sassuolo: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuinn. Okay, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Neroverdi, but it’s late and this book is so damn good that everyone should read it.

SPAL: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. A good, honest young man experiences unimaginable misfortune but then returns after an absence to take revenge on those who made him suffer? Sounds like exactly what you’d want to read if your team was neck-deep in the relegation places.

Torino: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin. An outcast part of the family is drawn into a world of intrigue and danger. That part may sound formulaic, but this is a really good book that wraps a murder mystery in science fiction. The themes of outsiderness in a strange and powerful city make me think of Torino, who have to share a town with some other team.

Udinese: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. This is not a literary masterpiece. It’s kind of bad. But it’s just good enough to stay on the bestseller list forever. Just like how Udinese somehow stays up every year without being good or interesting or really worthwhile at all.

Latest news

Amidst all the chatter about Juventus preparing a bid for Federico Chiesa, Rocco Commisso dropped an off-the-record remark to journalists about never selling a player to Turin’s second team. Rocco is good.

Inter Milan are also sniffing around Fede and we’ve heard a lot about the Nerazzurri including Radja Nainggolan in a swap. Here is why that’s a bad idea for the Viola (although maybe not entirely).

Wanna know who isn’t leaving this summer? Dušan Vlahović, who just verbally committed himself to a Florentine future. We really like the Very Large Young Adult Man.

In other things we like, there may be calcio again in the next month or so as the players have the national okay to resume training on 18 May.

Must read

We’re doing a position-by-position rundown of players who’ll be available on free transfers this summer and who could potentially wind up in Florence. So far, we’ve covered the goalkeepers, centerbacks, rightbacks, and leftbacks. The rest will emerge over the next week or so.

We asked if Fiorentina should sell Chiesa this summer and you answered with what was pretty surprising rationality. I was really expecting some pitchforks.

Comment of the week

Yeah, Rocco’s just fine and davidensi knows it.

That’s it for this week, folks.