2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A book about Tim Parks,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona (Paperback)
I can see why a lot of readers like this book. It stops just short of the Peter Mayle style of caricature while preserving a soft-centred idea of what living in a provincial Italian town might be like. However, I found the characters were lifted straight from the Mayle-inspired books - the "mad" woman claiming ownership of property and her townie adversary; the witch-like character with a broom; the toothless old men; the uptight employee (what the French would call a "cadre") and his neurasthenic wife, etc., etc.
In the end the reader learns a lot more about Tim Parks than about real Italians. He was the son of a vicar and, educated at Cambridge and Harvard was happy, at this period of his life, to be an English-language teacher and a hack translator. His only "friends" seem to be people who qualify as "material" (admittedly a trait common among contemporary writers). He loves to eat and drink. He and his wife like their cat, and going for walks. So far, so boring. He also fantasises about killing his neighbour's maltreated dog, even seeking advice (presumably from sophisticated friends) as to how to do it. Various methods are discussed, including one that would mean days of agony for the dog. What a lovely man!
Eventually the dog is poisoned, and dies a long-drawn out death one night that keeps Parks awake. After an anxious period when he and his wife fear that they might be implicated he decides the owner killed it. So that's all right. He doesn't admit to a desire to kill the owner, which some people might find more logical.
For a more mature assessment of Italian myths and mores I suggest you read Parks' "Italian Ways". In this book Parks does borrow from his earlier works, and, as he acknowledges, from that of other authors, but his evaluation is honest and balanced, and for this Italophile, throws a bright light on a corner of Italian life that in some ways sums up the national conundrum.