TRAVEL WRITING. On the same day that his wife gave birth to twins, Anthony Doerr received the Rome Prize, an award that gave him a year-long stipend and studio in Rome ́Œ'Four Seasons in Rome' charts the repercussions of that day, describing Doerr's varied adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world, and the first year of parenthood. 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 neighbourhood, whose clamour 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 account of the alchemy of writers.
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)