My Venice and Other Essays
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My Venice and Other Essays is a treat for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. Collected here are over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. Leon shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With poignant observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.
seems calmer these past few years. Sometimes he can be seen sprawled in a doorway, smiling at the people who pass him by, no more threatening than a cat. Memory still holds the image of my special favorite, the white-haired woman who stood for years at the bottom of Ponte delle Erbe, not far from the Casa di Cura of the Ospedale of SS Giovanni e Paolo, where she was said to live. Wearing her bedroom slippers and dressing gown, she moved with the sun during the day, gradually taking herself and
experiences that confirmed me in my Handelian faith. Some time ago I was invited to attend a performance of that jewel in the crown of Wagnerian genius, that triumph of all musicality, Tristan and Isolde, invited, I might add, by the Isolde, who is a friend. I went, and after a while the circumstances in which I found myself seemed strangely familiar, though I had been to only one other Wagnerian opera in my life. Was it the peculiarly earnest, one might almost say joyless, audience? Was it the
to sing but the speaking voice, not at all a musical voice, continued. Glancing down, I saw the white-haired man’s head inclined toward that of the young woman. His face was blocked by the sheer volume of her hair, but the motion of his hands told me that it was he who was talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. Tenor, soprano, mezzo-soprano, duet: his voice, like a bass Valkyrie, droned above them all. Not even the soprano aria with oboe obbligato could stop the flow of his chatter. Is
We drank tea and made polite remarks, all of us avoiding the sound of machine-gun fire that occasionally filtered over the walls of the house. After ten minutes or so, Parveen excused herself and went across the courtyard and into the kitchen, only to return quickly with a platter of rice the size of an inner tube, from the center of which rose a steaming mound of meat. She placed it in the middle of the table and started to heap rice and meat on each of our plates. When all of us were served,
replicants in place of the people who were there when I left. My native language is still spoken there but formulaic slogans, relentless friendliness, and endless repetitions of “like” and “I mean” delay the realization that Americans’ words are too often devoid of any genuine content. But my sense of alienation grows strongest when I am faced with their size. Americans are fat, but fat in a way that is peculiar to them, as though a race of hermaphrodites had been squeezed out of a pastry bag