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Italian Neighbors Paperback – October 7, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (October 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140340
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Matiqua on November 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I would like to talk about a book I enjoyed very much, Italian Neighbours by Tim Parks.
It is a collection of all the "Italian Experiences" the author made while living in Montecchio near Verona. Being Italian, I found it really amusing and very interesting, because it tells about all the innocent manias we have. It was interesting to see how weird and exotic, if I may say that, some of our typical habits may seem to a foreigner; I mean, sometimes you realize some things are a bit weird and you laugh at them yourself, but sometimes you just cannot realize, because you grew up with that and it is normal for you.
The book is a bit old, so some things have changed slightly, especially in politics (well, not that they have improved anyway), but, you know, people and things change in 15 years...Everything is described with that sort of light irony that is a chracteristic of the English sense of humour, and I enjoyed every bit.
A lot of the things he notices are still there, though, as if they were buried very deep into the Italian soul: well, I know a load of "car worshippers", my aunt is a cleaning freak and so on.
I think what has improved most, at least as far as I know, is the relationship to our pets. The author is shocked for the way people treat their dogs (and rightly so), but now many people changed their minds about animals in the house, and the way they should be treated. I let my cats sleep on my bed and know a lot of people that do too. It is increasingly becoming a true "love affair", even if there are still some people (and I would really like to meet one) that throw away their dog, because they are going on holiday and it is too much of a fuss to take it with them!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Quilici on October 3, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
* I rented that apartment! (except in ours we found dentures...)

* I had those neighbors, that landlady! (we had different factions calling us on the phone asking details about which other faction may have taken furniture and warning us not to speak to the opposing factions!)

* We had not one but two hound-dogs tied up on the terrace below, in full cry 23 hours out of 24, and each utility bill was in the name of a different dead relative.

I can't think of another book that made me laugh to the point of tears! This is the REAL ITALY (at least, the real Italy as viewed by an Anglo-Saxon). Priceless for anyone thinking of making the move, or who is interested in a regular "slice of life" that isn't all sunflowers and wine, pasta and mandolins... Also worth reading is the continuation in "An Italian Education" but this one is fresher and funnier.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Zecon on December 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Even after having lived in Italy, I remained puzzled by some of my Italian Aunt's eccentricities. For instance, she would stop to pick bitter herbs she saw growing from about anywhere and would be seemingly unaware that this constituted bizarre behavior in America. Reading about how a character in the book named Lucilla would stop to do the same brought pleasant memories back and made it clear to me my Aunt's behavior was really about the incongruities of Italian life. The chapter entitled Discreto, Valido, Relativo best captures these incongruities.

Tim Parks does not describe an idyllic Italian paradise. He captures the beauty, and even some of the warts, of everyday life near Verona. His focus is not on restoration of a country home and learning to cook like a native, but on real life. His insights into Italian politics, baffling bureaucratic behavior, and combative neighbors are fascinating and are conveyed with a lightheartedness this subject merits.

Parks does occasionally show his political colors taking swipes at Margaret Thatcher (the book was written a while back) and showing an affinity for the Green movement. At least for me, those sorts of references are somewhat of a detour to the story that blurred the author's focus.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Yahtzee! VINE VOICE on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
An honest and REAL account of life just beneath the surface. This book brought me back to what it was like to deal with the endless stamps (francobolli) to make receipts "official" and the endless beaurocracy you find if you live in Italy. Anything more than a tourist (ie--if you plan an extended stay) you need to read this book, otherwise, like my poor room-mate and friend suffered, you will be blown away by what we, as Americans, consider a lack of efficiency, corruption, or just backwards thinking. Parks explains the motivation for such silly things so that we may see them for what they really are. I wish I had read this book BEFORE I went to live in Florence for a year and a half...I would have been less surpised by some of the ridiculous things that occurred~!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gary Anderson on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm an American living in Italy, on Sicily. I enjoyed this book; Tim Parks nicely describes Italians doing what they naturally do. Italy is a prosperous country where most things seem to go awry. The chapter DISCRETO, VALIDO, RELATIVO sums it all up. Even the things that are worth doing (valido), and done well (discreto) have a fatal, RELATIVE flaw that cancels the first two. This paradox comes so naturally to natives that it must seem odd to Italians that foreigners need an explanation.

THE ITALIANS, by Luigi Barzini, also tries to explain why Italians are the (wonderful) way they are.
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