East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Corsair and the Stray Cats

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A few months ago I set up something that was to be called Seven Lives – a collection of my unpublished stories, seven, all with a cat somewhere, to be treacherously handed to my supporters on Patreon (because it’s good to be my supporters on Patreon ) and then to be grouped in a single volume, to be sold to raise funds for two stray cat shelters.

Arrived at the sixth story, three things happened

  • I was told that cats have nine lives, not seven, silly!
  • my current job as a ghostwriter overflowed and drowned me
  • a global pandemic hit us all

And so my plan for one story a month went hiwire, but only a little – and so the seventh story, which was scheduled for March, came out only today.

All the stories of the Seven (soon Nine) Lives Project are original stories and belong to one of my many series of stories – a story of Buscafusco, a story of Aculeo & Amunet, a story of Valerie Trelawney, a story of the Contubernium …

And today my supporters on Patreon received their copy of The Repentant Magdalene, a Corsair story.

Leo Martin, aka the Corsair, an adventurer who wanders the Mediterranean in the 1950s with his sailboat, helping those in difficulty, halfway between Simon Templar and Travis McGee, is a character to whom I am particularly fond.
It was to become my first series published by a “real publisher” in the United States, but then things took a different turn.

To date, Leo Martin only appeared in two novelettes – Chasing the Mermaid and The devil Under the Sea – available in ebooks and in print via Amazon, and only in English.

The Repentant Magdalene, set in Venice in 1956 is the first story of the Corsair to appear (also) in Italian. A 8000 word story.
Leo Martin is contacted by a friend known during the last months of the war, to recover a painting stolen from the Nazis from its rightful owners, and now in possession of a shady figure.
But it’s more complicated than that. Obviously.

And the painting is a real painting – or almost.
La Maddalena Pentita is one of the many works by Vittore Carpaccio (around 1465 – 1525/1526) which are mentioned in various catalogs, but nobody has seen around for at least three hundred years. In theory it should have been part of a diptych, paired with a Virgin Mary – both commissioned portraits of a woman of the Venetian merchant upper middle class. And we suspend the judgment on a patron who decides to have his wife or daughter portrayed as the Virgin and as a prostitute (however repentant).
Strange people.
The painting was probably destroyed during one of the various wars that crossed Europe from the 16th to the 19th century, but if it were found, La Maddalena Pentita by Carpaccio would be absolutely invaluable.
And Leo Martin knows it well.

Today, of course, in our country Carpaccio is famous above all for the beef-based dish, which was invented by the owner of the Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1950, while an exhibition of the paintings of Vittore was held at Palazzo Ducale. One divulges culture with the tools one has, I guess.

As a last flying note, the story The Repentant Magdalene, as I said, will serve to raise funds to protect stray cats.
Just yesterday someone killed the Cat with No Name, who had regularly visited our courtyard for ten years in search of crunchies, and when my father was still with us, to get his belly scratched.
And I find it oddly appropriate that a story of the Corsair comes out today to remember the Cat with No Name.
Both adventurers, each in their own way.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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