Saturday, April 18, 2009

Well-read Weekend #6

So far I've managed to keep myself apart from the Italy craze.  On my last Europe trip we skipped over the country entirely since it's in such an inconvenient place--jutting out into the water protected on to by the Alps.  (slight sarcasm there) I haven't read Under the Tuscan Sun or felt any deisre beyond 'graci' to learn the language.  Folks oooh and aaah over Italy and I'll counter with my love for the Eastern European capitals or Spain.  

But when a friend whose opinion you trust hands you a book and says you must read it, you read it.  This is what happened with Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr.

At the face of it, Four Season looks incredibly cliche--new parents with twins from Iowa move to Rome.  They live out the stresses of being parents in a foreign city.  What struck me at first from Anthony's stories is that I do not want to be a parent.  It seems like hell.  Wailing constantly, the toothing children sweating from the summer heat don't sleep through one night.  If and when I go to Rome I am definitely going childless.

But then as Anthony and his wife slowly get over what seems like the horror of child-rearing and get into the groove (and a babysitter), Anthony's recondite perceptions are fascinating.  He gleans the deepest truths from his everyday experiences with the city, his children and his stuggles writing.  He connects his life with those of thousands of years of Romans before him.   He draws strange parallels of his observations with those of Pliny the Elder's as he reads Natural History.

The city ceases to be a cliche of Romans and cathedrals and more of a year long meditation on the generations before and to come and what we think of the world.

Since reading this book I've rented A Roman Holiday and made pasta primavera, so I'm afraid I've fallen from my pedastool above fads.  Perhaps Rome is more than a fad, no?

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