Sunday, December 25, 2011

Andrea Camilleri in my newspaper

My review of The Potter's Field, thirteenth of Andrea Camilleri's Sicilian crime novels about Police Inspector Salvo Montalbano and the first in which Salvo goes to bed with Ingrid, appears in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Typically for a Montalbano novel,” I write, “the investigation becomes one of mob connections, heated emotions, and family secrets. But crime, investigation, and solution are the least of the Montalbano novels. Every word is a commentary, sometimes wry, sometimes righteously angry, sometimes touching, on the protagonist’s political, social, professional, and personal worlds. To choose just one typical example, `Ingrid’s husband was a known ne’er-do-well, so it was only logical that he should turn to politics.'”

Read the full review, and learn how to impress your server the next time you visit an Italian restaurant.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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21 Comments:

Blogger Joe Barone said...

I liked this book a lot. I like the Montalbano stories very much.

December 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the note. In general, I've liked the series more and more as it has gone on.

December 25, 2011  
Anonymous Tim Mayer said...

Great Blog! I'm adding it to my list of recommendations.

December 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks!

December 25, 2011  
Blogger Simona said...

Very nice, Peter! As I was reading your (very right and totally supported by yours truly) paragraph about bruschetta, cannolo and panino, I just thought how arbitrary the process of absorbing Italian words into America is. People shout bravo to one as well as many performers, regardless of their gender. As you can imagine, I don't like that.
Buone Feste!

December 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mille grazie, e Buon Natale!

I received the following note from the colleague who copy-edited my review:

"Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the bruschetta comment in your review. My wife and I regularly spar over that one. And she lived in Rome a few years and speaks a bit of Italian. I will print out that paragraph in 48-point and post it on the refrigerator."

On the other end, repeated viewings and listenings convinced my that Clemenza really does say, "Leave the gun; take the cannolis" in The Godfather, movie written, directed, and acted, in large part, by Americans of Italian descent.

So what are ya gonna do? I accept the reality of language change, but I also recognize that in this instance, I will change more slowly than others might. Tant pis!

December 25, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Very nice review. I've loved all the Camilleri novels. Yes, there are too many Mafia plots, but I don't read mysteries for plot, it seems. I read them for the human element. Camilleri's protagonist enjoys a life style that rises above moral considerations because he lives so lightheartedly and with such gusto. No doubt that is what attracted the women in his life to him in the first place. For most readers that is a perfect escape from their own limitations.

December 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. The human element is rarely as entertaining as Camilleri makes it, and he has emphasized it more as the series has gone on.

I'd call Salvo a strongly moral character even though he enjoys a good meal and, after thirteen books, sleeps with a married woman. So, moral sense plus a lively enjoyment of what the world has to offer. That's an attractive combination.

December 26, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Lively enjoyment what the world has to offer is right! :) I was really more concerned about his breach of faith with his regular lady love, but then he fels a bit guilty also.

December 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, Salvo's relationship with Livia is not the most conventional of such things. Given their squabbling and the physical distance between them, no reader can be surprised that Salvo finally takes the plunge with Ingrid.

December 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In any case, as you suggest, he feels a bit guilty. His awareness of his own shortcomings is one of the character's attractive aspects.

December 26, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Yes, I agree. And at some point, we want to accept a protagonist, warts and all. In this case, there is so much right about the man and such joy in his acceptance of the generosity of women that one cannot really fault him for his escapades.
Very clever of the author, by the way, to keep the relationships sexy but distant.

December 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, he'll appreciate a woman's beauty and grace, but he has few escapades, at least not sexual ones. I'd say a short temper, rather than an overactive libido, is his main fault, it he has one.

I have read that Camilleri's wife is from Northern Italy and that this may have inspired the Monalbano-Livia relationaship. I'd hesitate to ask them about this, at least if they were in the same room.

December 27, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Hmm. I thought we weren't supposed to confuse the protagonist with the author. :)

Have you ever thought about how many characters in crime fiction may be based on the author's secret fantasies? Reacher, perhaps? Most of female authors' tough heroines, I think. Living their wished-for lives vicariously through their books.

December 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Such thoughts occasionally cross my mind, especially when there are tantalizing coincidences between the author's life and the character's, as with Camilleri and Montalbano. Don't tell me it's mere happenstance that Camilleri, who has aged from his late sixties into his mid-eighties over the life of the Montalbano series, has aged Montalbano form his forties into his mid-fifties and has had him worry about his own mortality and regard the world with greater tenderness.

December 27, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Yes, but that's different. The wisdom of experience may color a character's views and that's a very good thing. That's different from having the character do or experience things the author wishes he could do or experience. The milksop becomes the super hero in fiction.

December 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or, as a character in Isaac Babel's "How It Was Done in Odessa" says: "Imgaine that instead of raising hell at your desk and stammering in public, you stammered at your desk and raised hell in public."

December 27, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

LOL! Nice.

December 27, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Your review is excellent and captures the humor in Camilleri's books.

I especially like the reference to Livia's spouse going for a career in politics and the remark about going to Milan for veal Milanese.

So typical of Montalbano.

I just read Excursion to Tindari which I enjoyed immensely. Laughed quite a bit.

I was only dismayed that I have read eight books in this series with only five to go, counting The Potter's Field. Then found an article saying there are two more in the pipeline.

So Camilleri may be in his mid-eighties, but that isn't slowing him down at all.

I now can look forward to seven more in this well-written and fun series. Ah, contentment.

The only problem with this series is the craving for fish, pasta and cannoli just grows.

My only salvation is that a friend bought the most sensational biscotti -- the best I have ever tasted -- from an Italian bakery in the Bronx to a holiday dinner. It's worth the trip.

January 07, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Kathy. When you get done reading the Montalbano books, you can look forward to rereading them.

January 07, 2012  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Ooops, I meant to say that Ingrid's spouse is going for a career in politics.

Yes, I will reread the Montalbano books as I will reread Sjowall and Wahloo's books in the long run.

January 07, 2012  

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