As the Romans Do: The Delights, Dramas, and Daily Diversions of Life in the Eternal City

Alan Epstein, Author William Morrow & Company $20 (304p) ISBN 978-0-688-17272-5
Although it retreads ground familiar to readers of Tim Parks, this slight if enjoyable collection of essays on life in Italy provides many amusing anecdotes. Epstein is a city-lover, particularly enamored with the Eternal City, and in 1995 he moved there from California with his wife and two young sons. These pieces collect his thoughts on the quirks of Italian life, but they often pertain to Italy in general rather than Rome (and too many of them concentrate on the joys of living in a city where women ""not only don't mind that you look at them, but actually seek your gaze, your glance, your stare""). The most successful of these pieces examine the differences in the minutiae of life as experienced in Rome and in the U.S. Epstein's thoughts on making photocopies, something that in Rome is as difficult as ""trying to get into Fort Knox,"" is well detailed, and the material on child-rearing (which the Italians consider both a communal responsibility and a pleasure) is sweet and poignant. Epstein often remarks that present-day Rome resembles the 1950s Philadelphia where he grew up, but he is too easily blinded to the weaknesses of both cultures. For example, in the face of growing xenophobia and violence against immigrants, he writes glowingly of how friendly Italians are to foreign vendors. Nevertheless, Epstein's love for his adopted home is often charming. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-184757-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 304 pages - 978-0-06-149444-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-149441-3
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-149446-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-06-093395-1
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