A “marvelous” Mediterranean memoir of an expatriate father raising his children in Italy—from the author of Italian Neighbors (The Washington Post).
Tim Parks offers another lively firsthand account of Italian society and culture—this time focusing on all the little things that turn an ordinary newborn infant into a true Italian.
When British-born Tim Parks heard a mother at the beach in Pescara shout to her son, “Alberto, don’t sweat! No you can’t go in the sea till eleven, it’s still too cold, go and see your cousin in row three number fifty-two,” he was inspired to write about parenting in Italy—which he was doing himself at the time after adopting the country as his own. In this humorous memoir, Parks offers an enchanting portrait of Italian childhood that shifts from comedy to despair in the time it takes to sing a lullaby. The result is “a wry, thoughtful, and often hilarious book . . . a parable of how our children, no matter what, are other than ourselves” (The New Yorker).
“Glimpses of Italy that are fond, critical, pithy and penetrating.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In Italian Neighbors, British-born Parks gave a wry portrait of his adopted Italy, where he lives with his native-born wife Rita in a village outside Verona. This engaging sequel is an affectionate family album focusing on the experience of raising their son, Michele, and daughter, Stefania, combined with general observations on childrearing practices in Italy. Parks believes the typical Italian child is born into a tight social matrix of caution, inhibition and a suffocating awareness of everything that can go wrong. For Italians, ``pregnancy is, inescapably, a pathology,'' and the intense mother-child relationship, suffused with eroticism, often produces young men with ``an extraordinarily inflated, mother-fed opinion of themselves.'' Beyond parenting, Parks serves up pungent cultural commentary. His Italy is a paradox, where an ancient mentality steeped in peasant Catholic traditions coexists with a hedonistic society that eagerly embraces all things modern. Parks's wit, eye for telling incident and sensuous prose make this a captivating family portrait.
Lovely moments but oh so long and so many rambling details.