November 22, 2017 | Rome, Italy | °C
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Fiction

The Day of the Owl

Rumors of Italian government complicity with the Mafia are age-old, but Sciascia pulled no punches.

Emilio's Carnival (Senilità)

Italo Svevo, born Aron Hector Schmitz, time and again presaged the modern curve.

The Baron in the Trees

Italo Calvino's gift was an adamant refusal to see the planet conventionally.

Little Misunderstandings of No Importance

The late Antonio Tabucchi always wanted it both ways: real and surreal.

The Siren

At his best, the late Dino Buzzati made the magical abut the mundane.

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

In English, "That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana" is an impossible novel — which makes it necessary.

Zeno's Conscience

Italo Svevo's remarkable Zeno Cosini has the pedigree of a 21st-century neurotic.

Nonfiction

Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty

Jennifer Clark's careful accounting of Fiat's ups and downs is essential Italy reading.

Zero, Zero, Zero

Roberto Saviano's cluttered new book plumbs the depths of cocaine trafficking.

Naples '44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth

Little written about World War II and southern Italy rivals Lewis' memoir.




BOOK REVIEW
Street Art Stories – Roma
By Jessica Stewart
Mondo Bizarro, 2012. 128 pages (English and Italian text)

Stewart's book offers a selection Rome's most celebrated street artists through photography and text, and as such the book is a first, a slender, light-hearted introduction to the city's street art scene that reflects the author's personal experiences in the city (she got here in 2005).

Stewart covers 15 of the city's most important artists, as well providing a kind of roadmap to where pieces are commonly located. The book is atypical of its genre, since most street-art books let photographs do the talking (see Banksy's 2006 bestseller "Wall and Piece," a self-portrait through imagery.)

But Stewart likes words, sometimes to her detriment. The text here is in both English and Italian, and if Stewart has a shortcoming it's that she often doesn't distinguish well between presenting the artists she likes and musings about her own struggle to establish herself as a connoisseur. The narrative can be disjointed and her disdaining of classic methodology can make it seem as if there was nothing happening before she got to Rome.

What you get in the end is the story of a young woman's discovery of Rome's secretive and light-shy underworld, illustrated by four years worth of photos. But while anecdotes about budding friendships with artists work well in a blog (and Stewart's has won prizes), they don't make a book. Next time around, someone should focus on the artists, because they deserve it.

Reviewed by Camilla Cahill
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

Everything you need to know about visiting or moving to Tuscany, Italy.