From Publishers Weekly
Intrigued by Carlo Levi's book on life in the Italian province of Basilicata, Christ Stopped at Eboli
, the author and his wife, Anne, decided to live for a year in Aliano, the village where Levi was kept under house arrest by Mussolini for seven months in 1935–1936. In Levi's day, Basilicata, situated in the instep of Italy's "boot," was a place of poverty. Unlike Levi, however, British travel writer Yeadon (The World's Secret Places
) was there to "live happily with Anne, learning, and generally have a spanking good time dining on all those gorgeous porky products and homemade olive oil and wines and wild game and pasta galore." In his entertaining book, he describes how he did just that, renting an apartment with a terrace overlooking the village square, making friends who enjoyed serving him sumptuous meals, learning how wine and olive oil are made and investigating the local superstitions. He tries to find out from the older inhabitants what life was like in the 1930s, but they are reluctant to talk about it, claiming that they are better off than they were. But Yeadon doesn't dig too deeply: finding it hard to reconcile his experiences with Levi's bleak portrayal of conditions in Basilicata, Yeadon concentrates instead on the comradeship and good food. Illus.
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After his exile in southern Italy for anti-Fascist activities during World War II, Carlo Levi wrote Christ Stopped at Eboli
, in which he explores the "dark, ancient, and richly human ethos" of the south's Basilicata region. More than a half century later, summoned by the "siren calls" in Levi's masterwork, Yeadon, with his wife, retreated to Aliano, a tiny village tucked within Basilicata's remote, snowcapped peaks and the site of Levi's imprisonment. There, in a community dating back to at least the sixth century B.C.E., they found winding streets and a wonderfully eccentric populace, including Pietro, the town's geriatric parking attendant, and Viva, a spirited breakfast hostess, who, like many Italians, seemed to have "an inbred natural ability to express all [her] emotions instantaneously." Also evident was an ancient, underlining fascination with the occult, with frequent whispers of werewolves, sorcerers, and death curses. Yeadon's focus on the Aliano people gives this funny, surprising story its lifeblood, as does his avoidance of cliches. His illustrations are a nice touch, too. Andy BoyntonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved