The Commendatore is a retired opera impresario who has now chosen to narrate three episodes in his life, all of which depend on a curious- and seemingly inexplicable incident. They also concern people who accept illusions which can sustain them, and reject the more painful reality. The Commendatore, or Soldati (an Italian film directore of some note) writes with an unusual blend of compassion, cynicism, and doubt, and the stories- which are not much more than anecdotes- tell of a conductor who always stops a performance at a certain passage, of a theatrical producer who converted his home into an orphanage, and of an enigmatic disappearance. The greatest virtue in this small book of several virtues is that Soldati knows how to tell a good story well, and to give that story meaning; and while he pities those who seek the protection of deception, he defends the dishonesty which can thereby bring contentment... A raconteur, reminiscent of a past generation and a more assured tradition, he writes with sophistication and precision. And the translation from the Italian by Gwin Morris preserves the amenities of the original.