by Michele Orvieti

photo © Elisa Fioretti

photo © Elisa Fioretti

photo © Elisa Fioretti photo © Elisa Fioretti photo © Elisa Fioretti photo © Elisa Fioretti

My name is Maria Chiara Casadio, I’m 35 and I work as a neurosurgical anaesthetist. I’m from Bologna but I have lived in Milan for 4 years and in Paris for 2 years. My husband’s name is Angelo and we’ve been together for 10 years. I have two sons: Luigi is 6 years old, and Giulio is 18 months old.
Reading novels is my greatest passion. I am a compulsive reader: I buy more books than I can read.
I’m very fond of classic novels; books have been genuine life partners to me and they have supported me through hard times: I have really confronted myself with people like Dostoevsky and Camus. Furthermore, I am constantly looking for books, I am a book and bookshop enthusiast: the most beautiful encounters I made, happened to be precisely inside a bookshop.
My husband is totally the opposite: he is my ‘container’, he delimits the many lives I live… and perhaps that’s the reason why we are together.
When I was attending high school, I lived in New Zealand for four months: it has been an extremely important experience for me, I put myself to the test in a place with a totally different lifestyle, and I understood that I wanted to live as many lives as our own existence offers us and not just one of them.
There, I also started becoming fond of the lives of others. I was really fascinated by differences, diverse people, flaws, anomalies.
The disease, for example, is a mistake and, as a doctor, I fight it: but since it is a mistake, it always produces something really interesting. In my opinion, in those mistakes, in those anomalies affecting reality hides the most interesting part of our existence, a kind of vanishing point that brings you one level deeper towards a better knowledge of humankind.
I work as an anaesthetist in a neurosurgical operating room: my job consists in making patients fall asleep, technically “putting them to coma”, during surgery. My main purpose is helping them overcome the surgical insult. I like it very much because it has a lot to do with the homeostasis of body and mind. On one side, someone destroys this homeostasis (the surgeon works, of course, for a good reason, i.e. removing a disease), and on the other side, we are working in order to restore it during and after the surgery.
I love neurosurgery: above all, I love the mystery lying in the bond between the organic matter (the brain is the same in every patient and its texture is similar to a pudding) and the immensity and complexity it holds (the particular distinctiveness of every single human being).
I can see some similarities between my job and Mirabilia: both of them pay a particular attention to the ‘flaw’ in reality, not considering it something to smooth or level, but a sort of entrance door. Like disease: it has to be fought, of course… but it cannot be denied that it brings change, new paths, unexpected complexities.
Before walking into Mirabilia, I hadn’t read any illustrated book! Actually, when I walked in, I was in search of novels and, as I looked around, I kept wondering what Mirabilia and its mission could be.
At once, I was fascinated by the ‘wunder’ section of the bookshop and memories of the many Dylan Dog comics I had read in my life came to my mind. I never knew there was such a huge literature dedicated to the borderlands of the ‘wonder’: it was like meeting for the first time somebody who’s a little bit ‘faulty’ as I am. I immediately thought that Mirabilia definitely resembled me.
Thanks to you, I got in touch with the world of illustration and immediately loved it: this world is certainly more ‘violent’ than the one of novels, it has a deeper impact than the written word... it’s like somebody took you by the wrists and forced you to look at something!
At first, I selected books quite randomly, relying on your pieces of advice, and I immediately felt a strong affinity for the more obscure and contorted illustrations, for example the ones by Stefano Bessoni or Claudio Romo.
Mirabilia is totally different from what can be found around us: I often see things devoid of depth, straightforward, but dull and unsubtle. The gaze here is fixed on what makes reality more complex, ironic and multifaceted.
The first book I bought at Mirabilia was Attilio by Giulia Pintus: I was struck by the illustrations of that huge man with a big and light hearth, who creates his own world, and falls in love with one of his daydreams… what an immense tenderness! I was attracted by this unconventional character: his uniqueness makes him a very handsome man. A moving book.
Then I started to read Stefano Bessoni’s books to my children and they were captured at once: Luigi calls Mirabilia “the bookshop of fear” because he can find there all those things that are kind of prohibited to him, like monsters, skeletons, and zombies, but that attract him at the same time. He really enjoys sharing these readings with me and this is helping him a lot to demystify the concepts of death, illness or the like, showing their true nature, as ordinary life processes.
The oddest thing I bought at Mirabilia is, no doubt, the “Dental Phantom Lamp”: Fausto Gazzi added some huge bulbs emitting a really beautiful light to this simulation of the skull used in the 19th century to create moulds of the teeth (the “dental phantom” indeed). This lamp is now a sort of family member at home: all our guests can’t help noticing it and my son affectionately calls it Lord Voldemort.
Another book I bought and that was very important to me is Les Dîners de Gala, the surrealist recipe book by Salvador Dalí, published by Taschen. I gave it as a gift to the wife of a university professor who invited our family for dinner. I felt really uncomfortable with that lady: she was caught by surprise and she really liked the gift, so she lowered all her defences… then we spent a lovely evening together!
There is a huge gorge with badlands, not too far from my parent’s house, on the hills between Imola and Dozza, between via delle Suore and via Comezzano: it feels like being in hell, there’s a huge silence. I used to go there, when I was a child and felt melancholic, just to collect my thoughts.
The next place—the wind turbines in Monterenzio—should be visited at night. Going under the wind turbines in operation at night is a tremendous experience: it’s freezing there, and no one can hear you, even if you scream; it’s like being totally defenceless in the middle of a vortex where a very strong wind comes from unpredictable directions.
Finally, in Bologna there is St. Catherine Chapel in the Church of Corpus Domini: there, you find the sitting saint, staring you in the eyes, with her body ‘miraculously’ uncorrupted since 1400. This place is not well-known today but is very special to me. It is certainly a ‘wunder’ place!