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A refreshing antidote to the saccharine charms of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, this is the quirky and hilarious memoir of a criminal lawyer who gives up his New York practise to spend a year in the Etruscan town of Sutri, near Rome, where he moves - reluctantly - with his artist wife and baby. Himself something of an eccentric from a bizarre Nebraskan family, he has spent his adult life living in hotels; and in Sutri, he heads straight for the caf- in the main square. From there he observes the baroque events of small-town life, conjures up a cast of Italian eccentrics (including Pasquale and his hypersensitive organ of smell), and relishes the weirdness and the wonder of Sutri's history, folklore, architecture and above all its food - particularly the notorious 'fagioli regina' (beans in a tomato and pig skin sauce) and the annual Bean Festival. Part of the delight of reading this memoir is that it not only evokes the sights and smells of an ancient and little-known town in Southern Italy, and brings its people to extraordinary life, but it also reveals the irresistible foibles and philosophy of a talented and unusual mind. Funny, philosophical and surprisingly moving, this is the story of how a rootless American finds home in the most unexpected places and how Pasquale and his compatriots put life into perspective in the strangest way.
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There are two kinds of travel narrators: those who travel to write and those who land in a place and pick up a pen. In Pasquale's Nose, Michael Rips is the latter, having landed in the Etruscan village of Sutri near Rome, the accident of an artist wife with a mission though Rips seems to have none.
Rips, a lawyer from the Midwest of America, appears to look for nothing more than what he can see through the steam rising from his coffee cup when seated at an outdoor café table. The result is an uneven series of occasionally stunning vignettes of the curious people who pass by his field of vision. It is an unlikely writing style for an American in Italy, more reminiscent of a distanced Victorian observer of another culture than an exuberant Frances Mayes in Under the Tuscan Sun or the freshness of Annie Hawes in Extra Virgin.
Rips' own personality, in all its neuroses, is the backbone to the daily doodles that introduce the reader to the village. The elegant café owner Dina Guidi, the inbred Mezzadonna family, the blind boot-maker and the titled Pasquale with a penchant for cars and for smelling feet are created with varying detail.
The style veers toward a movie script outline where characters have great potential and all will be revealed before the camera. This first-time author, who would be a study in eccentricity in his own right, is on the right path when he blends observation with his version of a morality tale. --Kathleen BuckleyBook Description:
A sharply flavoured, eccentric and entertaining travel memoir which does for the southern Italian town of Sutri what Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil did for Savannah (without the murder) - makes you want to go straight there, or better still stay at home and read about it!
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Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # S-0099422735