A light and sweet account of an outsider’s encounter with Italy’s education system, customs, and cuisine.

LIKE A NATIVE

TEACHING ENGLISH, LIVING ITALIAN

An American physician takes a post teaching English to Italian schoolchildren in this debut memoir.

Disillusioned with medicine and a dead-end relationship, Morris accepted a temporary teaching position in the small Italian city of Civitanova, exchanging public school classes and private tutoring for free room and board with his charming host family, the Pezzonis. Morris experienced Italian life outside of the tourist centers of Rome and Florence and certainly cut an anomalous figure while doing it: a middle-aged American man in a school operated almost entirely by stylish Italian women, lacking a salary or car and subsequently totally dependent on his hosts. He was virtually the only American tutor in the area who was male or above the age of 30. Yet the education challenges he encountered should be familiar to teachers from all walks of life: overcrowded classrooms, easily distracted and hormonally charged students, and institutional chaos. Morris was a committed, genuinely passionate teacher, and as the semester progressed he explored techniques to engage both his rambunctious public school students and his private pupils. He eventually became the strict yet beloved disciplinarian of the school and, at the end of the year, organized an English-speaking contest that culminated in an emotional awards ceremony. Meanwhile, he sampled the neighborhood winery at bargain prices, introduced his Italian hosts to American-style chili, and engaged in brief flirtations with his fellow teachers. The narrative fires rapidly through encounters with many different students, which can make keeping track of who is who difficult. Morris expresses frustrated bemusement at his American colleagues’ inability to articulate why they are teaching English in Italy but doesn’t share an answer for himself. A more probing exploration of Morris’ own past and psyche, beyond a few hints regarding romantic strife, professional frustration, and familial estrangement, would render his triumphs and failures more impactful. Leaving the story of a man walking away from his old life essentially untold, the book instead delivers a slight travelogue that overflows with Morris’ clear love of Italian culture, food, and people.

A light and sweet account of an outsider’s encounter with Italy’s education system, customs, and cuisine.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5372-3934-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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