Monday, January 29, 2018

January's Reads

I think one of the biggest surprises people get reading Frankenstein is how radically different it is from the story we've all heard a million times.  There's no description of how he creates the monster or the methods he uses to bring it to life.  Igor's not in there, nor is there an angry mob with torches and pitchforks.  The monster speaks perfect English.  And at no point does Victor scream, "IT'S ALIVE!"

I was already curious about this when I read the excerpts in New York magazine.  When I heard that 45's lawyers were actually trying to suppress it I considered reading it almost a patriotic duty, and downloaded it the day it was released.  Of course a lot of the stories are impossible to verify (and predictably the White House is denying everything), but nothing in this book is beyond the realm of plausibility.
Andrew Cullen and Ryan Anthony McNally - Decoding Italian Wine

Read this one if you don't know a fucking thing about Italian wine.  What you see is what you get: a beginner's guide.  It's all Nero D'avola, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  Personally I would have preferred a bit more depth, but them's the breaks.  I dug the section on Italian cinema pairings.

This one came at the recommendation of my good friend, wine guru and Italian life-coach Marta Rezzano.  The way I evaluate high fantasy (or any novel that takes place in another world) is I ask myself towards the end: how real does this world feel?  My belief in this universe and its systematic magic never faltered, and I cared about the characters right up till the end.  My only complaints are that the story seems to lose the titular wind in its sails somewhere around the fourth quarter, and the ending felt more than a little anticlimactic.  Still, I'm intrigued enough to read the next one.

Shawn Levy - Dolce Vita Confidential

Excellent book about Rome in the post-war years.  Cinnecittà.  Fellini.  Paparazzi.  Sophia Loren.  Marcello Mastroianni.  Levy describes how Mussolini centralized the film industry to serve as a propaganda machine, then goes on to chronicle how after the fall of fascism the Marshall Plan helped facilitate its growth into one of the most dynamic movie production zones of all time.  If you're at all interested in Italian cinema or twentieth century Rome, I can't recommend this one enough.

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