Tuesday 21 July 2020

The Reluctant Tuscan

Finished July 12
The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian by Phil Doran

There were aspects of Doran's experience that I quite liked, such as his efforts to learn the language, and aspects that I didn't like, such as how the local people were often caricatures of various Italian stereotypes and his humour, which is in the style of the sitcoms that he wrote for as a career.
At the beginning of the book there is a disclaimer that all the events are true, but some of the place names and all of the people's names have been changed to ensure their privacy. This is good, but given some of the people's secrets, if you know Phil and his wife and where they actually have a home in Tuscany, I would think that some of these secrets might still become associated with the actual people, which is worrying given the promises made to those people.
There is the usual issue of Italian bureaucracy and the machinations used to sidestep and overcome it. Having never dealt with this, I couldn't say if these are real or exaggerated, but certainly at times it feels a bit much.
This memoir covers a year or so during which Doran's wife, a sculptor and lover of Italy, buys a ruined house with many issues and sets about making it into a home. One of her motivations is worry about the stress Doran has over getting his scripts accepted now that he is no longer on salary to a particular show or studio. She believes getting him away from California will help his health. Given the stress around this project, I'm not sure how successful this ploy was, but he did get a book out of it anyway.
Despite the stereotypes, one did get glimpses of the real humanity in the people he encountered, and some of them were more interesting to me, and I would like to know more about them, such as the young female mechanic.

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