Maestro utrecht (Master Utrecht)
Maestro Utrecht is not like other teachers. He teaches his pupils the important things in life: the names of trees and how to draw birds. He takes them walking by rivers and foraging for mushrooms. Together, they sing songs and read stories of long ago. His students adore him, but their parents do not. Together, they sign a petition for his dismissal. And so Maestro Utrecht leaves his native Italy. He travels on foot from town to town, leaving faint traces behind him, like a watermark, his body growing ever weaker, until one day he simply fades away.
Davide Longo is visiting the city of Utrecht when he stumbles upon the story of Stefano M., an Italian man who has been found dead under a motorway bridge, a sack of bones weighing just ten kilos. No one attends his funeral, but a local poet writes a eulogy, for which he receives an anonymous letter of thanks. Maestro Utrecht and Stefano M. are one and the same man. In alternating chapters, Longo reimagines the life of Maestro Utrecht and pieces together that of Stefano M, based on the few things he left behind him – a guide to vermiculture and a copy of Don Quixote, three Kinder Egg surprises and a few cinema tickets – as well as things he said and people he loved.
Davide Longo’s novella takes us on a journey to the roots of one man’s life and the author’s own writing.