From the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See, a "dazzling" (Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran) memoir about art and adventures in Rome. Anthony Doerr has received many awards--from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with it a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award the day he and his wife returned from the hospital with newborn twins. Exquisitely observed, Four Seasons in Rome describes Doerr's varied adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world. He reads Pliny, Dante, and Keats -- the chroniclers of Rome who came before him--and visits the piazzas, temples, and ancient cisterns they describe. He attends the vigil of a dying Pope John Paul II and takes his twins to the Pantheon in December to wait for snow to fall through the oculus. He and his family are embraced by the butchers, grocers, and bakers of the neighborhood, whose clamor of stories and idiosyncratic child-rearing advice is as compelling as the city itself. This intimate and revelatory book is a celebration of Rome, a wondrous look at new parenthood, and a fascinating story of a writer's craft--the process by which he transforms what he sees and experiences into sentences.
Literary and lyrical except for a few episodes of parenting panic and moments when he wonders “what was I thinking when I accepted the Rome Prize with newborn twins?”, this book about reading, writing, and the terrifying and wonderful experience of being a new parent and living for a year in the heart of Rome when you don’t speak much Italian will appeal to readers of literary memoirs.
if you keep a journal
if you get a fancy prize that lets you live somewhere interesting
if you (and spouse-wife) just had twins
if you just wrote a great book
then you can publish anything
(fun to read, easy to read, life in Rome-speaking no Italian and changing 2000 diapers)
Doerr worked on the early writing and research for his later Pulitzer Prize winning novel "All the Light We Cannot See" (2014) and completed the short story "Village 113" about the Chinese Three Gorges Dam project (collected in "Memory Wall" (2007) during this time and wrote his notes and journal entries that became the basis of this book.
Thanks to my friend Karan for introducing me to and gifting this book! (less)