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Vastela Books

Tim Parks - Italian Neighbours

Tim Parks - Italian Neighbours

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Paperback - Used

3.8/5 Goodreads

"I often find it useful, or at least amusing, to think of a book in terms of a gesture, a mood, a posture. In which case the gesture of this book might be that of a busy but inexpert fellow dashing about the narrow confines of his territory waving a net on the end of a long stick. It’s not a butterfly net, by the looks of it. It’s altogether too big for that, huge in fact. But it might be a will-o’-the-wisp net. Which would explain the extremely fine silk mesh, the random way it is being waved. And if we were to ask this frantic fellow what particular species of will-o’-the-wisp he is after? He stops, out of breath, surprised at our interest. Well, some of the most common, he pants: national character, a sense of place, the feeling people, place and weather generate. And how is he getting on? He shrugs, pouts, as if to say, this is a mug’s game if ever there was one. Will-o’-the-wisps — you know — the thing is, even when you do catch one for a moment you have a terrible job recognising them, and then when you pin them on the pages of your book they immediately lose all colour and shape. Anyway, he is spending most of his time picking truisms, clichés and caricatures out of his net. Not to mention the mere grit and chaff the air is full of. You leave him to get on with it. He rushes off, apparently at random. And it seems that in his desperation he’s beginning to wield his net quite wildly, and perhaps in not altogether legitimate fashion, sweeping backwards in time when he ought to go forwards, allowing the fine fabric to fill with all kinds of things from moments years apart, and places, even dimensions, far from contiguous. You shake your head. Whatever it is that finally gets catalogued in his book, obviously this is not a man you’ll be able to trust on such imponderables as documentary authenticity." - Tim Parks, Author's note

"I recommend this book to all those who are fed up with accounts of roughing it agreeably in Tuscany and similar junk that scarcely scratches the surface of the real Italy" - Daily Telegraph
"This is a clever, entertaining book. And, rare in travel literature, it is charged with a sense of purpose" - Sunday Times

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