A collection of anecdotes about the author’s life in Italy and Australia.
Some people never travel for from home, but the same can’t be said of author De Franco, who has lived in Italy and Australia and shares his experiences in both countries in this collection of incidents from his life. From one of his first memories as a young child—being spirited away by his father into the Italian forest to escape an Allied air raid in World War II—to the European Union’s receipt of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, De Franco discusses the people, events and experiences that have made an indelible impression on him across the decades of his life. His experiences run the gamut from the mundane, such as fetching cigarettes for adults as a young boy in Italy, to the exceptional, such as helping to build the world-famous Sydney Opera House in Australia. There is plenty of human drama as well, such as his story about his suicidal Italian boss or the ultimate fate—succumbing to lung cancer—of the friend to whom he brought cigarettes. Animal lovers may be turned off by the fact that every time the author takes care of one as a boy, it inevitably winds up on the dinner table. De Franco voices his own personal morality and opinions throughout, interspersing his book of humorous stories and anecdotes with statements like “…just the fact a man holds a Bible in his hand does not make him a Christian…” Sometimes this inclusion of serious and humorous within the same chapter becomes jarring, as readers must suddenly switch emotional gears. This well-written book works best when it marries De Franco’s personality—such as the detail that he barely spoke as a youngster due to an extreme case of shyness—to the incidents he is relating. The keenly observed cultural comparisons—particularly that of Italy after the war to the United States—also strike a poignant note. Still, the stories tend to blur together over the course of the book, representing the authenticity of a life lived but lacking the standout moments of a truly remarkable memoir.
Best suited for readers with a vested interest in Italy or Australia, or cultural comparisons in general.