1970s, Italy is in the stranglehold of terrorism, and a police inspector is wrongly accused of having murdered an anarchist, by throwing him outside a police station window. The justice system will ultimately exonerate him, but only many years after he has been murdered by exponents of the extra-parliamentary Left. He will leave behind a young wife and two children. One of whom, Mario Calabresi, will become a prize-winning journalist and will write his version of those years: Pushing Past The Night - Spingendo la notte piu' in la' - translated by Michael Moore.
Pushing Past the Night is a personal journey into the tragedy of terrorism. In its opening lines, the author explains how, although it was terrorism that pulled the trigger, it was the press that loaded and aimed the gun that shot his father. Calabresi is a refined writer, who never resorts to a victim's voice in recounting his tale. He informs and explains the political turmoil that led to his father's murder, and the emotional tsunami that risks drowning his family afterwards.
Confucius wrote that "Ignorance is the night of the mind, one without moon and without stars". And Calabresi reminds us that we have a duty to hold our heads high against the onslaught of the night. We have a duty to push past the night. And then maybe, just maybe, we can, like him, find love and hope on the other side.
“There was nothing normal about the day he was killed. But no day had been normal for quite a while, so his murder wasn’t entirely unexpected. Premonitions, panic attacks, anxiety, and even tears had become my parents’ constant companions. No one could say exactly when it started. Or maybe one could. Perhaps it was the evening that my father came home, shaken, and announced. “Gemma, Pinelli is dead.” Or the day that graffiti calling my father Commissario Assassino – Inspector Murder – started to appear on walls throughout the city. Or the morning that the ferocious press campaign began, filled with violence, sarcasm, threats, promises, and taunts. And then there were the political cartoons. Not long after I was born, the newspaper of the militant left, Lotta Continua, printed one in which my father is holding me in his arms, intent on teaching me how to use a toy guillotine to decapitate a doll representing an anarchist.
The details that I have collected over the years and filed away in my memory have transformed an ordinary day into a fateful one. Foretold. Almost expected.”
Original (In Italian)
“Non era una giornata normale – scrive Calabresi all’inizio del libro – quando fu ucciso, nel senso che non era inaspettata. Da molto tempo nessun giorno era più normale: i presagi peggiori, le paure improvvise, le angosce e perfino i pianti erano diventati compagni di strada dei miei genitori. Nessuno potrebbe dire più da quando. O forse si, dalla sera in cui mio padre rincasò sconvolto: ‘Gemma, Pinelli è morto”.
E poi, dal momento in cui le prime scritte apparvero sui muri della citta’, indicandolo come il commissario “assassin”. Dalla mattina in cui comincio’ quella feroce campagna di stampa, carica di violenza e sarcasm, fatta di minacce, promesse, sfide e anche vignette. Non molto tempo dopo la mia nascita il quotidiano “Lotta Continua” ritraeva mio padre con me in braccio intento a insegnarmi a decapitare, con una piccolo ghiliottina giocattolo, un bambolotto che rappresentava un anarchico.
Ma sono i particolari, che negli anni ho raccolto e istintivamente catalogato nella memoria, a fare di una giornata qualsiasi una giornata annunciate. Prevista. Quasi attesa.”