Toni has now published his ‘biased memoirs’ entitled glow worms – which can be downloaded free as an ebook from the Biased Memoirs site, with a request to donate to the Cordoba Initiative – or as a paperback via Lulu.
Toni decided to engage in what he calls the onanistic, narcissistic, navel-gazing exercise of consigning my musings to paper for two main purposes: to delay senile dementia, and to be of support and assistance to others. We naturally support both objectives!
We have also asked the book’s content editor Angie Voluti, to share her ‘biased memoir’ of helping Toni produce this masterpiece.
Angie Voluti shares her own ‘biased memoir’ about helping Toni Muzi Falconi with his glow worms book
You’d not think that editing a book may turn into an emotionally-charged activity, would you? Neither did I.
A PR professional who moved to the UK in 1991, I have spent longer in English-speaking countries than in Italy, the place from where I come. Yet, as they say, you can take the little girl out of the village, but not the village out of the little girl. It was no ordinary village, and I was no ordinary little girl: I did not wish to become a housewife, have three children and be happily overweight. I wanted a ‘proper’ career, a difficult dream to pursue as a Sicilian young graduate.
Being approached by a professional of high stature like Toni (Muzi Falconi) with a view to edit his professional/ personal memoirs was a puzzling experience.
I was brought up to question everything, and was curious as to why an Italian PR guru would write his memoirs in English. Moreover, why would he then ask an Italian-speaker to edit the material? The questions circled in my mind like sharks. As an author myself (of novels written in English), I had no doubt that I could rise to the challenge. Yet, would it not be a better, more linear proposition to approach a British editor?
I read the first chapter of ‘Biased Memoirs’, and felt that it answered all my questions. They were not there, black on white, of course: it was the prose itself, and the matter discussed, which flicked and pinched heartstrings I had forgotten all about.
Does a PR professional understand another better? Is it easier? Does an Italian communicate more effectively with another? Is there a common background against which to play a fairer match?
I think that there was a real danger that I would tint Toni’s prose with my own colours, and be totally unaware of it, in the same way as members of a family influence the home’s general environment and set of values without perceiving their own contribution to its development as such.
Two things became clear to me: the first was that real editing keeps true to the original narrating voice even if some words and sentences’ structure may be altered. You need to come out of yourself and become someone else: that osmosis is key to empathy, and PR professionals, whether of the academic kind or not, must have a constant supply of it. I would like to think that I did.
The other was a sudden awareness of what the essence of the book, in my view, is all about: there is no objective view of reality. Reality does not exist unless through someone’s perception of it, and even that perception keeps being modified through the years and the same person’s eyes. If our profession can absorb that as a fundamental principle, the book will have gone a long way to give a lasting contribution to it.
It was daunting to read of episodes dotting my own country’s troubled political past and hear them told by someone else’s voice. True, many of the episodes narrated only exist in my personal imaginary, as I was too young to live them, yet Toni’s sharp eyes gave them a different dimension, and presented an interpretation of them for which I had to find space in my heart as well as in my memory and mind.
Toni was, at times, worried about the personal content of his Memoirs. PR professionals are acutely aware of the confidential weight of memories, especially when they involve other people. Yet there was something therapeutic about it all and – as the editor – I aimed to ensure that such soothing effect could be shared between the writer and the reader.
Muzi Falconi is too accomplished a person to offend, antagonise or disrespect individuals or cultures. Indeed the entire ethos of the work breathes and feeds off tolerance and understanding for people as well as credos.
Looking back, I am pleased to have been chosen to adapt, edit and fine-tune Toni’s ‘Biased memoirs’. An editor’s job can be considered completed when the book’s prose is as immaculate as it can be, but true to its original intent. In our case, I grew with each passing chapter; I remembered my own ‘glow worms’; I was reminded of what is so absolutely great about PR as a profession and as a way to lead one’s professional life; I developed a long-lost fondness for a flawed country.
If a book can stir any of those feelings in the reader, I consider it to be a good choice. If it can, at the same time, smooth out the rough edges of the writer’s choices and own professional and personal growth, then it is an even more accomplished result.
Born in Italy, Angie Voluti has spent the past 23 years living in the UK (arriving with one rucksack and her History of Communications Degree, in the early 1990s) and working in the fast-moving automotive industry, both agency and corporate PR-side. She is currently writing her fourth book, the second title in a new eight-part series called ‘Searching for Nonno’. She published her first book (Clay Ghosts in Sicily) in 2011, her second in 2013 (Mr Lost) and writes freelance for British and Italian publications, alongside managing her PR consultancy.
When not stuck in traffic, compressed like a sardine on a London Underground train, or promoting her clients’ automotive services, glamorous celebrities and brand ambassadors, Angie enjoys spending time with her two children, (Romeo, named after Alfa Romeo, and Florio Tazio, after both famous racer Tazio Nuvolari and the Targa Florio race), her toy poodle, Princess Allegra Leyland and a long-suffering partner – all of whom are small, fierce and hyperactive, apart from her partner, who is big and tall but very chilled and laid back, luckily for him.