The Chambers of My Heart - Venice, Paris and New York

Albert Russo

1 August 2022

The Chambers of My Heart - Venice, Paris and New York

Albert Russo

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The story is recounted by a thirty-something writer of Italian-American descent, whose parents have settled in Paris; his mother, Emily, a New Yorker by birth, teaches contemporary art at the American University, while his father, Massimo, originally from Monza (Lombardy, Italy) is himself a famous painter. Arco is a talented author of erotic novels, his books, written in French, are bestsellers. His wife, Margo comes from a Bordeaux family of famous vintners. Although not religious, she grew up in the strict Catholic tradition, and has kept a certain moral rigidity, which creates some friction within the couple. They still don’t have children, and they live in a mansion of the secluded and very posh Villa des Ternes located in the 17th arrondissement, not far from the Concorde Lafayette complex, where Margo owns a gallery of arts and crafts, hailing from the four corners of France. Arco is a dashing and colorful young man and shuttles between Paris, Italy and New York, where he is invited to large book fairs, gives interviews, has TV shows which are sometimes controversial, since he often targets religious bigots, and presents his own English translations, for he is a bilingual writer, to students of literature at those few universities of the Big Apple that welcome Arco Baleno, calling him a modern and daring mix of Marquis de Sade, Casanova, Rimbaud and Verlaine (who were lovers), as well as Pasolini. Unbeknownst to his wife, Arco has a long-standing homosexual relationship with Flavio, a young Venitian architect of his age, he met in Paris, a few years after he married Margo. Theirs is a passionate love with, at times, furious squabbles, because Flavio is terribly jealous. The novel also provides a context for revealing aspects of three different cultures, different mentalities, all deemed from the inside, since the hero is himself multicultural and has lived in these places. It is a far cry from what tourists or even frequent visitors see.

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