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Pasquale's Nose: Idle Days in an Italian Town
     

Pasquale's Nose: Idle Days in an Italian Town

by Michael Rips
 

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Beloved of readers and critics everywhere for its quirkiness, its hilarity, its charm, Pasquale's Nose tells the story of a New York City lawyer who runs away to a small Etruscan village with his wife and new baby, and discovers a community of true eccentrics -- warring bean growers, vanishing philosophers, a blind boot maker, a porcupine hunter -- among whom he feels

Overview

Beloved of readers and critics everywhere for its quirkiness, its hilarity, its charm, Pasquale's Nose tells the story of a New York City lawyer who runs away to a small Etruscan village with his wife and new baby, and discovers a community of true eccentrics -- warring bean growers, vanishing philosophers, a blind boot maker, a porcupine hunter -- among whom he feels unexpectedly at home.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The author is every bit as eccentric as the villages he describes in Pasquale's Nose, a quirky addition to the growing ranks of travelogues about Italy. The author, who has an obsession with living in hotels, moved to the tiny Italian town of Sutri with his wife and daughter -- and promptly took a room in a local hotel. Rips is far from the adventurous travel writer -- whenever his wife's career as an artist takes them to far-flung locations, she must book him a hotel room and arrange it to match his hotel room back home -- but that only adds to the flavor of this offbeat book and seems to make the author the perfect observer of Sutri's own unconventional inhabitants. Chronicling the unusual characters Rips encounters -- from the blind bootmaker to the illiterate postman -- Pasquale's Nose is an entertaining, enjoyable travelogue.
Vogue
...refreshing...it's the spirit of the great fabulist Italo Calvino that one feels hovering over Pasquale's Nose.
Insight
...beguiling stories...
Boston Phoenix
...[Rips] lovingly details his adventures in this remarkable village...
Washington Post Book World
...entertaining...Rips is a remarkably self-effacing memoirist...
Atlanta Journal Constitution
...an entertaining story...
Ruminator Review
...vivid evocations of human oddity...
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author Rips, formerly a successful trial lawyer, ran off to the Etruscan village of Sutri with his painter wife and new baby. In Sutri, the likably neurotic author spent day after day in the cafe, reflecting on the notion that he "was unable to produce or even reflect on anything that I or anyone else would consider useful." Seemingly in the throes of a pre-midlife crisis, Rips presents his quirks at face value, sans psychospeak, with hilarious, moving or unsettling effect. In a small, ancient town, one might expect to find citizens repressed by long-standing social mores, an assumption both confirmed and disproved by the many eccentrics: the man who lights his cigarettes with a magnifying glass; an illiterate postman who leaves the villagers to sort their own mail; a blind bootmaker who claims he can make a perfectly sized boot just by looking at a person's foot (he can't, but still keeps his customers); and Pasquale, a terrifying brute with a penchant for smelling feet. Rips warms to Sutri, finding it "an archaic society... that had... forged a collective identity and story and that had a mystical attachment to both." The kindhearted, brutal and idiosyncratic Sutrinis' nonsensical ideas about causality and the author's peculiar, often bleak worldview complement each other perfectly. In tiny, glittering vignettes, Rips paints an extraordinary picture of interwoven sublimity and absurdity. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Yet another in the proliferation of "I lived abroad" books, this unemotional and self-absorbed narrative explores Rips's stay in Sutri an Italian hill town near Rome where his artist wife finds an available house and studio where she can pursue a new series of paintings. Rips abandons his legal practice to live an indolent life and spends his days drinking coffee in a local cafe while collecting anecdotes about Sutri's citizens. In a town noted for its beans and riding boots, he assembles more than a dozen surreal accounts of the area's most peculiar inhabitants: Aurellio Mezzadonna is reputed to have a cat's paw in place of a hand; Pasquale's nose is enormous and reacts painfully to the odor of feet; and Frank, the shoe storeowner, is a hermaphrodite. There's little mention of Sheila, Rips's wife, and even less of his infant daughter. Almost as an aside, Rips includes the menus of a few meals and relevant recipes. As a whole, the book lacks the wit and warmth of such classics as Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence or Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun. This is probably results from Rips having lived his entire adult life in hotels. Not recommended. Janet Ross, formerly with Sparks Branch Lib., NV Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An attorney makes his literary debut with a slim collection of musings on a year's residence in Italy. The format will be familiar to anyone having even a passing acquaintance with Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. An American family—in this case, ex-trial lawyer Michael, wife Sheila, and their baby daughter-moves to a European village and has an intriguing time learning about life from the quirky but warm inhabitants. Preciousness is a pitfall of this genre, but the author gives good promise of avoiding it in his opening pages, where he declares that "The plan was that Sheila would spend her days painting, while I would sit and reflect on the fact that I'd not worked for years, had an infant daughter, and was unable to produce or even reflect on anything that I or anyone else would consider useful." Unfortunately, from here Rips swings his gaze outward and relates a series of anecdotes about the inhabitants of the town of Sutri: a blind bootmaker, a crusty bean farmer, a hermaphroditic shopkeeper. The locals seem to be little more than collections of traits; their motivations and relationships remain opaque. More promising is the author's own story: an adulthood spent living in hotels, his relationships with his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, he does little with these topics, telling just enough to intrigue the reader and then retreating to yet another sketch of local qualities and customs. Rips makes motions towards a larger unifying theme, mentioning philosophy or the Bible or his curiosity about the meaning of life, but he never addresses these subjects in a sustained way. Taken as a whole, his effort falls flat. Colorful but slight.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780759524491
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
05/21/2001
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
760 KB

Read an Excerpt

For as long as I can remember I have suffered from the belief that the place where I am living, however wretched, is preferable to anywhere else, however pleasant-the brown grass here is better than the green grass there.

My brown grass that spring was the Riss Restaurant, a purgatorial place where I would sit day after day doing little or nothing, surrounded by others doing less. It was at the Riss that Sheila found me, at the Riss that she suggested that we move to Italy, and at the Riss that I refused to go.

Sheila, an artist, had just given birth to our child. With no reason to believe that I would ever work, she felt compelled to earn money. That's where Italy came in.

Sheila knew of a medieval town at the top of a hill in central Italy. Artists lived there and one of them had a vacant house and studio. The town and studio would inspire her to complete a new series of paintings, which she would sell to support us. As for me, Sheila claimed that the town had two or three coffee shops that were as awful as the Riss.

I began to assemble the excuses for not going. But Sheila didn't need to hear them-she knew them from countless other conversations, all of which ended the same way: I would not leave.

But that afternoon something happened. A sheet of paper taped to the cash register. A sign.

The Riss, which had been open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for seven decades, was closing.

It should not have surprised me-unlike Heaven and Hell, Purgatory was bound by time, subject to decay and oblivion.

Days later we left for Italy.

That Sheila was responsible for the sign on the cash register did not occur to me until it was too late.

Copyright (c) 2001 by Michael Rips

What People are Saying About This

Kurt Andersen
...part Federico Fellini and part Preston Sturges...these characters and their town are real and this bewitching tale is true.
—(Kurt Andersen, author of Turn Of The Century )

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