The best-selling author of Italian Neighbors returns with a wry and revealing portrait of Italian life - by riding its trains.
Tim Parks’s books on Italy have been hailed as "so vivid, so packed with delectable details, [they] serve as a more than decent substitute for the real thing" (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
Now, in his first Italian travelogue in a decade, he delivers a charming and funny portrait of Italian ways by riding its trains from Verona to Milan, Rome to Palermo, and right down to the heel of Italy.
Parks begins as any traveler might: "A train is a train is a train, isn’t it?" But soon he turns his novelist’s eye to the details, and as he journeys through majestic Milano Centrale station or on the newest high-speed rail line, he delivers a uniquely insightful portrait of Italy. Through memorable encounters with ordinary Italians - conductors and ticket collectors, priests and prostitutes, scholars and lovers, gypsies and immigrants - Parks captures what makes Italian life distinctive: an obsession with speed but an acceptance of slower, older ways; a blind eye toward brutal architecture amid grand monuments; and an undying love of a good argument and the perfect cappuccino.
Italian Ways also explores how trains helped build Italy and how their development reflects Italians’ sense of themselves from Garibaldi to Mussolini to Berlusconi and beyond. Most of all, Italian Ways is an entertaining attempt to capture the essence of modern Italy. As Parks writes, "To see the country by train is to consider the crux of the essential Italian dilemma: Is Italy part of the modern world, or not?"
©2013 Tim Parks (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Italian Ways has been one of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to in a long time. It's not just the reading (which was excellent), but the wonderful insight into the Italian way of life.
This book is incredibly hard to describe and that's what makes it such an excellent listen. The author gives you a view of the Italian people through the perspective of a frequent rail-traveler. The book is a well-composed series of stories chronicling humorous, sweet, and frustrating events the author either participated in or witnessed while using the train system.
The stories couldn't be more enjoyable or vivid. Tim Parks ignites your imagination and builds the most incredible scenes of people interacting with one another. And, Ben Bartalone, the narrator, really delivers, as well.
I can't recommend this one highly enough.
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
Only if there was a narrator/reader with a British/Italian accent. The reader was so very NOT right for this travel book. It made me want to stop listening at times. He was boring.
Not so sure. He is not as intimate a writer as Frances Mayes, but then that is a different kind of book.
By hiring a good British reader who speaks Italian. To have to listen to a narrative by a Btit read by am american with a midwest sort of whiny accent was not good.
It made me long for Italy when I could get over the bad reader.
If an author is British, use a British reader.
I think I expected more italian life and italian people in the story, but it was pretty much just about him figuring out the trains.....
He has the voice of the teachers pet. It's annoying. A bit too cheery
I enjoy some historical fiction. James Clavel, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larson, Adventures of Marco Polo, Julius Ceasar.
Tim, life is so much a happier place than how you tell it. Even the ending on meditation is misplaced. It isn't the world'd (Italy's) fault. It is your negative perception.
Yes, I think this book is worth it to get to know Italian culture from the view of the trains. I listened to this book prior to going to italy and traveling, and it helped navigate the rail system and to understand Italy on a deeper level.
Tim Parks was openly critical of a country that he clearly loves.
Inappropriate, incongruous, and unfitting. Because the voice of the author is that of an old ex-pat carmudgeon from Britain, and the narrator sounded like a young American.
I haven't even bothered to finish the book because I got a little bored, saw that there were still 2 hours to go in the narration, and wondered what possibly more the author could discuss about Italian rails. Almost seemed like he was riding around the country just to have more material to talk about.
Not sure the story lacked any tension--there was no real point to the travel. The observations seemed random and the prose was uninspired
Something with some direction and punch
The performance was flat but this was not surprising as there was no real drama in the story.
This book is not really up to the high quality of Tim Park's intellect. It read as though he was phoning the story in. It is certainly not up to the level of a Paul Theroux travelogue.
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