The Tales of Arturo Vivante

Mary Kinzie, Selected by Sheep Meadow Press $15.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-935296-91-4
Although he immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s and writes in English, Vivante ( Run to the Waterfall ) is sustained by his native Italy, as evidenced by these limpid tales, many published previously in the New Yorker . With their Tuscany-based philosopher-fathers and artist-mothers, the variously named protagonists and narrators from the different stories blend into one persona, apparently an alter ego for their creator, and, with insight and a sense of humor, suffer fascism and exile, economic hardships, broken hearts and deaths of loved ones. Minutely detailed descriptions recall Mediterranean smells, tastes and colors, luring readers into a sensuous experience. One narrator's father passionately raises fragrant, plump peaches ``as beautiful as flowers''; another wonders if his mother is in love with a lichenologist, who collects marvelous, natural lacework specimens of ``pale green and yellow . . . tenuous blue, silver, and almost white.'' A boy forges a secret friendship with a thirsty snake, supplying it with water until the ``fresh and insipid'' rain spills in torrents. In memory of his mother, a man buys up ceramic dishes that display landscapes ``done with colors that held meaning: the blue of distance, the green of freshness, the brown of earth.'' (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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