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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Florence, A Delicate Case by David Leavitt 
11th-Dec-2006 11:59 pm
I dunno what it is with the nonfiction lately...

Leavitt, David. Florence, A Delicate Case. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002.
          Summary: The Writer and the City series. David Leavitt narrates the history of the Anglo-American expatriate community in Florence and highlights the lives and writings of its luminaries.
          Comments: Though Florence boasts more "important" artwork and history than you can shake a stick at, novelist David Leavitt focuses less on the prosaic sights of the usual guidebook and more upon the underbelly of what he characterizes as a medieval, claustrophobic locale popular as a place of suicide. Specifically, the way in which it became a bohemian community for aspiring--and often homosexual--artists from elsewhere, mostly England and the United States. (He seems particularly attached to Ronald Firbank.)
          One of Leavitt's primary theses in this little tome is that these artists squandered their artistic talents on gossip and petty vendettas. By the time I had gotten to the fifth and last chapter when he began a truncated account of his own adventures in Florentine expatriate society, I was well on my way to a disgusted conclusion regarding this author's own hypocrisy. He was gossiping when he should've been documenting! As we all know, gay guys are stereotyped for that sort of behavior, but Leavitt has actually acquired a track record for this sort of thing in the wake of the publication of While England Sleeps...so I suppose he can relate on a personal level. Luckily for him, though, he saved himself at the last second: "I'm struck by the degree to which, without ever intending to, I seem to have adopted the very tone of the Anglo-Florentine memoirist that earlier I saw fit to decry" (165). Amen, brother. At least he realizes it. And readers who get this far will likely be pissed off--for, like the works of those aforementioned memoirists, Florence, A Delicate Case fails to live up to its writer's full potential or, for that matter, his recent track record.
          Notes: hardcover, 1st edition
          Rating: 4/10 - An overheated, unnecessary account of the greatness of Western art and culture designed to please a Western audience who already believes that it is the only important human civilization on this planet.
14th-Dec-2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
So Florence is where gay men go to kill themselves? ^_^;
14th-Dec-2006 03:09 pm (UTC)
Ha, ha. Very funny, but I don't think he was THAT specific, actually.
1st-Jan-2007 06:16 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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