The author was studying medicine in 2005 when her first book was published (from the front it was narrated by Alice; from the back the narrator's Carlo). This 2010 novel (which has about 110 spacious pages) has an episodic, at times consciously poetic style. The main character, Diego, is a lecturer who's revising a dictionary. We get a few definitions. He lives with his mother who's going senile. She often calls him Roberto. I don't think we ever find out why. She's cared for by Yvona.
His mother is confused about time, which concerns other characters too. The chapter headings have locations and dates, a few having 2 dates - one chapter begins "I'm 3 and 38". There's much jumping around in time. His classroom clock doesn't correspond with the time on his watch. Are people playing tricks? Diego falls in love with Antonia, who's good with his mother and lives in a mental care home. She can be mysterious at times.
Yvona has a distant boyfriend. She and Antonia wonder about what's required to keep such relationships going. Security? Imagination? Do the lovers need to be poets? Towards the end Yvona harms his mother, and Antonia turns out to be a patient rather than a doctor. Diego reasons that if he enjoys a story not caring whether it's true or not, why shouldn't he love a woman who deceives him?
Snowball fights, photographs, and definitions are all introduced as material for analogies as much as for their own merit. Passages like the following show how the main character thinks - "Outside it's raining and the rain flows into the Arno, water in water, diluting or concentrating? Both maybe, and anyway what does it matter. Outside it's raining and you are the person with whom I want to look outside when outside it's raining." (p.59). Images recur. He reads that after 30 years the black storks have returned to the Adda. They're shy creatures who shun humans. The chapter ends "From the margins of the newspaper the black storks in the room leave no feathers" (p.12). On p.61 is a 7-line chapter, headed "Rome, 5 October 2008" - "Long feathers of metallic reflections are scattered on the floor of my floor. They must have fallen after a lively beating of wings, a flight that must have hurt. ... The black storks have shattered the margins of the newspaper.