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I’m lucky enough to belong to a multicultural book group that decides on a country for a year: China, Japan, Haiti, Australia, Turkey, and Korea, among others. The reason I bring this up is that we choose fiction and non-fiction; thus, I feel compelled to finish and digest titles I might not normally pick. Italy brought us Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, a whimsical allegory about a nobleman who lives, loves, fights duels, and dies of an advanced age without having his feet touch the ground.
As corollary reading, we all should have checked out Tree Houses: Fairy-Tale Castles in the Air. Although fantastical, these full-page photographs in a huge coffee-table sized book illustrate real constructions, with accompanying explanatory text in English, German and French.
The Taschen design elements are much to be admired throughout, including a huge international map depicting where the actual treehouses hover in the forests. Often, before a five-page entry on a specific site, illustrator Patrick Hruby has created colorful graphics showing the structure’s relationship to the tree trunks. It’s too bad that the book with its heavy 352 pages is just too cumbersome to enjoy in a hammock somewhere!
Crime and Corruption
Also on our Italian booklist was author Leonardo Sciascia, who courageously tried to illuminate the crime families in 1970s Sicily in his detective novels. We read Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl, which is only available through LINK+, although San Mateo County Library has Sciascia’s other books.
A Woodside patron pointed out The Collaborator as a book that you can’t put down. Again, the crime clan is centered in Naples with Italian gangsters and informants. Entangled in the suspenseful net are the sensual Italian collaborator Immacolata,her persistent and ignorant British boyfriend Eddie, the mysterious security specialist Lukas, and the incorruptible investigator Castrolami as the tense story violently builds. The reader is caught up in the pervasive corruption and violence of the Italian underworld.
Karen Y. reads eclectically, due to her two book clubs and library employment. The next country choice is Ireland, with a booklist encompassing Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde.