The Good… I finished Ciao, America in the blink of an eye. Absolutely adored this book… although I’m arguably biased as the son of an Italian immigrant. I have witnessed many of the things Severgnini describes firsthand among relatives. Severgnini’s verbal dexterity and keen observation of human nature, regardless of culture, had me laughing out loud repeatedly. Ciao, America is a quick read; tuck it away for a weekend trip or rainy day and it will not disappoint.
The Bad… I can’t pick Riddled With Life back up, and not for the reasons you might expect. I’m not squeamish at all and not put off by the subject matter. Its the writing. If you’re familiar with this style of non-fiction where the author takes an academic or scholastic topic and tries to make it into less of a reference work and more of informative dialog, you’ll know the sort of book Riddled is trying to be. Honestly, I enjoy both approaches when done well, but Riddled managed to aspire to both but achieves the least engaging aspects of both. Frankly, I can’t pick it back up and think I’ll just harvest the bibliography to learn more on the topic.
The Ugly… I had another falling out with Don Quixote. Yes, yes, pillar of western literature, paragon of early novels. Got it. The novel still frustrates me to no end. Between obsessively tracking down and trying to fully comprehend Cervantes ‘ references (a daunting task in any era) and the stupendous mass of the novel itself, I think that inventing a time machine and traveling back to introducing the concept of a pentalogy might do him (and more importantly, me) some good. Who am I kidding though, in classic time travel fortune, a copy of something by Robert Jordan would probably get left behind and destroy world literature as we know it.