Dario Cannizzaro is a 35-year-old writer from Naples who managed to mislead me with the title of his collected stories Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies and a completely black cover of his book outlined with red images of a syringe, stars, planet Saturn, a cross, a profile of a woman, a naked female body, a hand digging out its way through earth, a spaceship, a pierced heart, and a cloud dialogue with xxx in it. My mind was sidetracked into believing that I will be reading gory, horror stories of aliens, zombies, death celebrated and life taken, so I embraced myself for this dark and short journey.
I was so wrong. And I wouldn't put a blame for it on Dario Cannizzaro for choosing this title and Vico for “lending his design talent” for this book cover. Actually, now when I reflect on everything that I've read in nine stories on 104 pages (Preface, Thank you and Bio & Contacts pages included), they are rather logical and smartly chosen. Only my dark and twisted mind has been looking forward to the rivers of blood and aliens and zombies hunting down the remaining surviving specimens of mankind!
Cannizzaro's stories are indeed stories about life, death, alien and zombies. They are stories about everyday life as we know it, life as it could be if things went slightly different (e.g. zombies walking among us, Pope admitting that aliens are gods we have been worshiping since the dawn of mankind), life and death that continue its perpetual circle despite the fact that aliens are watching us and we don't care much about it after the first initial shock of finding the truth that is out there, or that zombies are our new neighbors even though we do not see or hear them so we carry on with our daily life, normal as it can be under the new circumstances.
Cannizzaro's stories are also stories about love, passion and sex. In some we can so vividly taste the smells, fragrances and the bloodstream of Italy, in others we are faced with our own basic instincts, aspirations, cravings, hopes, dreams and memories. Some of them are not even two pages long, while others are a more complex and maybe even more demanding reading. All of them, though, are carefully written with Cannizzaro's beautiful style and meticulously chosen words and sentences.
Three of my favorite stories are Yet Another Zombie Apocalypse, The Best Place to Plan a Mass Shooting and The Announcement. If that describes me as an aspiring and sometimes misunderstood author who is scared shitless of zombies and hopes for aliens to come to his rescue, so be it. This is who I am. But these stories carry the weight of a deeper truth and hypothetical and yet not-so-alien reality, if we only allow ourselves to think outside the box we have been put and locked into.
There is one particular story I wanted to mention at the end and I am sure there is a good reason why the author saved it to end his first book of collected stories with it as well. Impurita is the most complex and in-depth story of them all, but what truly separates it and places it on a special pedestal is the beauty and love with which it is written, a strong and deep emotion and the poetry in every sentence through which it speaks to us. Would calling it a literary masterpiece be an exaggeration? I hope you will be able to tell me that after you read it.