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on 13 January 2018
Being a British person living in Northern Italy I found this book insightful and funny at times as I could relate to a lot of the insights in the book. It explains the culture well and I really enjoyed reading about Tim Parks's experiences.
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on 13 October 2017
If you are at all interested in Italy this will be a most enjoyable read. If you are thinking of going to live there it would be a good idea to read this first. It is a pity they aren't on audio books as well to cheer up long, boring car journeys.
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on 10 October 2017
half way through and thoroughly enjoying it .. so well written transport you there
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on 25 June 2017
A thoroughly entertaining read!
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on 19 August 2017
Bought for my brother who said book was hilarious!
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on 25 March 2003
I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book, it is always nice to know how foreigners see you! Tim Parks is a good observer and gives you plenty of details on his surprise at some of the Italian ways.
Things have changed a bit, though, as the book was written some 15 years ago and we changed a lot in politics and way of living, even if the typical characters are still there (my aunt is obsessed with cleaning the house and keeping it perfect, some people I know are "car worshippers" and so on). Some of the differences may be due to the fact that I live in Piedmont and not in Veneto and there is a big difference, not as big as between the North and the South, but still sensible. I guess this is one of the reasons that made me so curious about the book. I started reading it and couldn't stop, I finished it in 2 days!
It is really a good insight in Italian provincial life and a good read for anyone with an interest in this country.
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on 6 June 2001
This book, like "An Italian Education" by the same author, makes a compulsory reading for who really wants to know about Italian culture and I don't mean how they cook, how they dress or how they play football. Tim Parks has lived for twenty years in the town where I was born and I have to admit that it took an Englishman to pinpoint the every-day Italian characteristics and ways of living. For me it was a bit of a revelation because I never thought all the idiosincrasies, manias and madness of Italian society were anything to write about, but then a friend at work told me there was a guy who lived in Verona who wrote a book... and here I am, reviewing it. The book is brillant, thoroughly enjoyable, it is always witty, hilarious and critical at the same time, it makes such an entertaining reading. One breezes through the chapters. I could see myself, my family and friends in them and this is the way we are over there, this is so spot-on! The author got it so right! I think this book is very special because Tim Parks understood the culture of the place where he lives writing a couple of superbly entertaining books about it in the meanwhile.
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on 2 May 2011
Having lived in Italy for several years, this book had a special resonance for me. While signor Tino's experiences are slightly different to mine, I could often relate to certain incidents and recognize various characters and their foibles. Tim Parks' descriptions of Italians and Italian life are witty and affectionate, exposing some of the oddities and idiosyncrasies of our European neighbours. I don't think, as other reviewers have said, that he is cruel and scathing in his writing, or that he writes from a position of superiority - I doubt that these reviewers have spent years living in a small, northern Italian community. Rather, he accurately captures how he tries to fit in with this simultaneously surprising, frustrating and charming people, whose culture and mindset are very different to our own. Don't expect scenes straight out of a Forster novel, populated with charistmatic Roberto Benignis and Sofia Lorens - you will be disappointed. If you set your preconceptions about Italy and its people aside, you will laugh, despair, and cheer along with Mr Parks. And when you have finished, go on to read the sequel, An Italian Education, which focuses on life from a parent's perspective, and then A Season With Verona, told from a football fan's point of view, which is joyous even for those who don't know the offside rule.
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on 13 October 2011
Tim Parks, unlike many other English authors who always keep aloof from the countries they live in, truly became integrated in Italian society. His family is Italian, he speaks the language perfectly and can understand it inside out... at least as much as any Italian. There is no smugness here, no superiority complex. Yet, he is able to maintain that cool-headed approach to description that only outsiders can enjoy when describing a complex society like that of Italy. As an Italian I find he does a better job than most Italian writers in describing us!

He is so part of Italy that, again as an Italian, I do not take offence when he makes fun of us! Because he is accurate, perceptive, and he loves the country. He tells it how it is, this is indeed how we live in Italy, beyond the stereotypes, with our bureaucracy, our immigrants (things have gotten more complicated since he wrote this book), our big and little manias...

The book was writen quite a few years ago, I read it in 1998, but as i re read it today I feel it is not out of date at all! So buy it by all means and get a good look deep into our country! Or at least Verona and the Venetia region, one of the richest and most advanced of all. It would, of course, have been a very different book had he lived in Rome or in the South!
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on 29 April 2015
I wonder what Tim Parks' neighbours and acquaintances made of his depiction of them as bigoted, superstitious, hypocritical, scrounging cheats? Presumably in his intellectual ivory tower he just didn't think that they would read a book and so be in a position to care.
I was upset at his callous indifference to the sufferings of the chained-up dog whose night-long agonies when ultimately poisoned were cheerfully rejoiced about about Parks and his wife.
Having since read the lengthy account of his own physical sufferings in "Teach us to Sit Still", I hope that he has now learnt some compassion.
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