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Ciao, America! Paperback – 13 May 2003
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"A bella laugh...Wonderfully funny perspective. No Dickensian outrage is to be found in these pages, no close to Toquevillian analysis; "Ciao, America"! is fun from first page to last, pure and simple."
-Jonathan Yardley, "The Washington Post
""Severignini is a master in the vein of Bill Bryson..."Ciao, America"! is a sardonic tale of cultural bewilderment, an incisive peek into the mundane obsessions of our American existence that makes the commonplace seem not only insane but extremely funny."
""A delightful read, full of wonderful anecdotes that capture the eye-opening absurdity of life in the United States."
""Witty...Whatever you have taken for granted in America is what Severignini observes with the freshness and charm of the outsider, here for an extended visit. He gives us back ourselves-- with our manners and mores and even the fine print on our No Parking signs--in a shining mirror."
-"Philadelphia Weekly Press
"From the Hardcover edition."
From the Inside Flap
In the wry but affectionate tradition of Bill Bryson, "Ciao, America! is a delightful look at America through the eyes of a fiercely funny guest -- one of Italy's favorite authors who spent a year in Washington, D.C.
When Beppe Severgnini and his wife rented a creaky house in Georgetown they were determined to see if they could adapt to a full four seasons in a country obsessed with ice cubes, air-conditioning, recliner chairs, and, of all things, after-dinner cappuccinos. From their first encounters with cryptic rental listings to their back-to-Europe yard sale twelve months later, Beppe explores this foreign land with the self-described patience of a mildly inappropriate beachcomber, holding up a mirror to America's signature manners and mores. Succumbing to his surroundings day by day, he and his wife find themselves developing a taste for Klondike bars and Samuel Adams beer, and even that most peculiar of American institutions -- the pancake house.
The realtor who waves a perfect bye-bye, the overzealous mattress salesman who bounces from bed to bed, and the plumber named Marx who deals in illegally powerful showerheads are just a few of the better-than-fiction characters the Severgninis encounter while foraging for clues to the "real America. A trip to the computer store proves just as revealing as D.C.'s Fourth of July celebration, as do boisterous waiters angling for tips and no-parking signs crammed with a dozen lines of fine print.
By the end of his visit, Severgnini has come to grips with life in these United States -- and written a charming, laugh-out-loud tribute.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
It is a lighthearted, short book that is somewhat amusing. I actually quit reading it about 1/3 of the way through because it was outdated. Not the books fault; it was written in the early 2000's if I recall correctly. There was a lot of commentary on the internet, technology, etc. and things have changed so much that I just got bored reading it.
To his credit, Mr. Severgnini is a good writer, his pen is light and his text is charming and flows well, and his fascination with his subject is obvious. Sadly it did not translate into anything profound.
Bottom line - pros: well written and somewhat entertaining airplane book for people who never lived in the US; cons: Beppe Severgnini is not Alexis de Tocqueville
There are few aspects of America that Mr. S.-- I'm not taking any chances on misspelling his name-- misses. He covers malls, freeway drivers, obesity, casual attire, overly friendly waiters, political correctness, our obsession with shopping, being in control, being organized, numbers and air conditioning, to name a few.
One of my favorite paragraphs from this book is Mr. S's take on America's bad taste or what he calls "large-scale wanton tackiness." "The hero figures of this America are Mae West, Liberace, Muhammad Ali, Joan Collins, and Ivana Trump. Larger than life personalities who at first sight, and often at second or third, are beyond comprehension. How can they like that stuff? The sacred places of this America are Las Vegas, Atlantic City, every bar in the state of Texas, and every swimming pool in California, as well as 90 percent of official ceremonies and any sports event you care to mention." This is a statement difficult to dispute.
I'm not completely convinced that this writer could get an objective view of the U. S. from hanging out with Washington types. I wouldn't say that people inside the Beltway, as the media would have us call them, are good examples of what Americans are like. I wonder if he would have sung a different tune if he had spent a year, for instance, in Nashville, Kansas City or Miami or some other large U. S. city besides Washington. At any rate, this book is a great read. I recommend reading it during these Dog Days of summer in a very cold air conditioned room!