My Venice and Other Essays

My Venice and Other Essays

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by Donna Leon
     
 

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Donna Leon has won a huge number of passionate fans and a tremendous amount of critical acclaim for her international bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. These accolades have built up not just for her intricate plots and gripping narratives, but for her insight into the culture, politics, family-life, and history of Venice,

Overview


Donna Leon has won a huge number of passionate fans and a tremendous amount of critical acclaim for her international bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. These accolades have built up not just for her intricate plots and gripping narratives, but for her insight into the culture, politics, family-life, and history of Venice, one of the world’s most-treasured cities, and Leon’s home for over thirty years. Readers love how Leon opens the doors to a private Venice, beyond the reach of the millions of international tourists who delight in the city's canals, food, and art every year.

My Venice and Other Essays will be a treat for Leon's many fans, as well as for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. For many years, Leon, who is a perennial #1 bestseller in Germany, has written essays for European publications. Collected here are the best of these: over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to the troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. She shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With pointed observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Best known for her Venetian mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti (The Golden Egg, etc.), Leon turns to real life with this engaging yet overstuffed essay collection on everything from her adopted city to animals. Divided into six sections—On Venice, On Music, On Mankind and Animals, On Men, On America, and On Books—Leon muses, reminisces, and often complains about her Italian home of more than 30 years. While Venice isn’t associated with cleanliness, Leon makes it clear just how dirty the city is in the bluntly titled “Garbage” and “Shit” (the latter of the canine variety). But in the titular essay, it’s clear also that she loves the community feel and unforced camaraderie of her neighborhood, where the city’s lack of cars means citizens are “forced to walk forced to meet.” A music aficionado, with a particular penchant for the underappreciated Handel, Leon makes the arias and orchestrations come alive in “On Beauty and Freedom in the Opera” and “Confessions of an American Handel Junkie.” Originally from New Jersey, though she’s lived and taught in locations as varied as Saudi Arabia and China, Leon takes her native country to task on issues of obesity (“Fatties”), the Manhattan male (“The New York Man”), and fear (“The United States of Paranoia”). With most of the essays running no longer than three or four pages, the volume leans a bit too much on the side of quantity (there are 55 essays), but Leon’s distinctive voice is reason enough to power through. (Dec.)
Library Journal
09/15/2013
The intricate and exotically nuanced Venice, certainly an integral ingredient in the appeal of native New Jerseyan Leon's "Commissario Guido Brunetti" mysteries, holds center frame in this collection of essays influenced by the author's 30 years in the "Floating City." Reminiscent of writing by Patricia Highsmith and Ernest Hemingway, Leon's style is sparse and compact—the majority of essays comprise only a page or two—yet not at the cost of detail, insight, or sagacity. And though her travels and encounters surely drive most sections, she doesn't mull or meander, instead offering sharply revealing and precisely vivid sentences. With an alert perspective and skilled hand at turning "the reveal," Leon sparks seemingly exhausted topics such as politics, social customs, hamburgers, or fat Americans into something fresh. Heightening the intrigue, her essays are, with a subtle but nonetheless cunning pomp, rarely what they seem. VERDICT Fans of Leon's Brunetti books will take great pleasure deducing how her thoughts on everyday life on the island may shape and affect her series. Recommended for the author's fans, travelers, writers, and lovers of Venice or Italy. [See Prepub Alert, 6/3/13.]—Benjamin Malczewski, Toledo-Lucas Cty. P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
An American mystery writer reveals a new character: herself. Leon (The Golden Egg, 2013, etc.) is the author of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, set in Venice, where she has lived for more than 30 years. In this new collection, Leon muses about that celebrated city, its inhabitants and visitors, unique landscape, arts, culture and food, and also about men, music, animals--and America, which, she admits, she continues to call "home." Most of the pieces are very short, more like journal entries or blog posts than well-structured essays; at best, their form gives them an easy, conversational quality. At worst, they flit too quickly from thought to thought as Leon reveals her passions--for Baroque opera, for example--and her many strong dislikes. Here, a selective list is in order: fat people, hunters, the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, self-absorbed American men, the proliferation of the words "like" and "I mean" in American speech, sanctimonious diplomats, the grim players of slot machines, and the hordes of tourists who defile whatever place they visit, causing "far greater harm to the planet than have terrorist bombs." Leon writes warmly about music and animals, offering a charming portrait of the modest and articulate mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, an artist she much admires. A lifelong "dog addict," the author fell in love at first sight with Blitz, a dog trained to sniff out drugs and bombs. The essays grouped under the heading "On Books" are not, as readers might expect, about literature but instead include her experiences with the seduction of email, her astonishment over a physician's powers of observation and her incredulity about the outpouring of grief at Lady Diana's death. An uneven collection showing Leon to be a cranky, though sometimes witty and insightful, critic of her times.
From the Publisher

“Leon . . . takes both loving and jaundiced looks at Italy and the United States, music, men and many other subjects in My Venice.”—New York Times Book Review

“Entertaining [and] unapologetically opinionated.”—New York Times

“Cheerfully opinionated. . . . An intriguing glimpse at the strong views of an exceptionally interesting and entertaining novelist.”—Seattle Times

“So keenly observed that they almost make me homesick for a city I’ve only visited . . . [Leon’s essays] have the kind of friendly intimacy of a letter from a friend far away”—Boston Globe

“Donna Leon is . . . a practiced writer of sharply observed commentary. . . . Leon clearly loves her adopted city, but she is not so pie-eyed as to overlook—and report to often hilarious effect—its idiosyncratic imperfections. . . . Savoring these short and engaging pieces is akin to sharing a latte at a Venetian café with an entertaining, opinionated, intelligent friend.”—BookPage

“Well known as the author of the Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery novels, American Donna Leon has lived in Venice for 30 years and knows its vagaries and delights in and out. The essays in My Venice are filled with her pointed observations, humor and insight. . . . Leon's great intelligence and wit come through in every one. . . . A lively collection.”—Shelf Awareness

“Leon . . . is literate, witty and contentious, with a ready sense of humor and an eye for the absurd. I’d love to have a cappuccino with her.”—Kathy Weissman, Bookreporter.com

“Engaging. . . . Leon muses, reminisces, and often complains about her Italian home of more than 30 years. . . . But in the titular essay, it’s clear also that she loves the community feel and unforced camaraderie of her neighborhood.”—Publishers Weekly

“[Leon] never fails to explore the periphery of her topic, deepening her theme and giving it context and nuance.”—Booklist

“Absorbing. . . . My Venice and Other Essays . . . provide[s] morsels of wit and sharp observations.”—New York Journal of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802120366
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/03/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
735,745
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author


Donna Leon is the author of the internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and has lived in Venice for thirty years.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Venice, Italy
Date of Birth:
February 28, 1942
Place of Birth:
Montclair, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., 1964; M.A. 1969; postgraduate work in English literature

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My Venice and Other Essays 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago