Tommy Cappellini
Rigor mortis per Lupe
ISBN 978-88-97308-42-3
128 pages, € 14,50

Tommy Cappellini
Lupe’s rigor mortis

“David, can you help me out with Miss Vélez’s garden tomorrow morning? Joel is taking the day off, so you’re the only one I can ask “. The life of David Donaz, a teenage boy from the 40s whose father works as a gardener for the Hollywood élite, is about to change. He’s soon to meet his first love, a woman he will never forget: Lupe Vélez, the star-crossed heroine of the Mexican Spitfire series as well as several other successful – but often forgotten – movies. Lupe, the wife of Johnny Weissmuller, was also sentimentally close to Gary Cooper and Arturo de Córdova, as well as to other famed acquaintances of hers.

The Allies landed in Normandy on June 6th, 1944; Lupe Vélez killed herself on the 13th of December of the same year, dressed in “a grand evening gown”. This charming actress, as sensual as one might expect from a beauty from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, had found herself at the top of the world, a glimmering movie star, loved by everyone – a real-life Nana that would have made Émile Zola himself proud. Was it too much? Did she have too many lovers? Whatever the case, David can’t take his mind off her, off the memory of the first (and last) time he met her, back in that garden in June, when she gave him a single, unforgettable caress. He will come up with all sorts of plans to see her again, driven by a blind, devouring and somehow naive desire.

We also get to know David’s father, a hard-working and reserved humanistic Jew widower; Aunt Dorothy, a holier-than-thou woman who overtly despises “that whorehouse, that lupanare that goes by the name of Beverly Hills” – a phrase she took from her Neapolitan husband; Marion, an emancipated neighbour; David’s classmates, his comrades who “borrow” a sidecar and drive with him to Rodeo Drive on a sort of love pilgrimage to Lupe’s villa, or to argue about the several, “politically incorrect” German writers that chose the palm-shaded beaches of California as their retreat.

Tommy Cappellini was born in Cantù in 1975. Having completed his studies in Como, at 20 he founded a small publishing house, publishing authors such as Yves Simon, Gerhard Köpf, Jean Baudrillard and Antonio Moresco. He has worked for Mondadori, Sperling & Kupfer and Frassinelli. After several years at the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, he started working for Swiss daily Corriere del Ticino. He lives in Switzerland.

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