Heart warming story set in Kosovo and Canada
Introducing Shebooks (“short e-books to move and inspire you”)
27th June 2015
We recently came across Shebooks “short e-books to move and inspire you”, a publishing house that specialises in high quality, short e-books that you won’t find anywhere else. So we thought we would bring them to our readers as many of them are really evocative of locale. Pour over one at lunchtime, finish a book before bed in one sitting, or download a story for the commute to work. There is something satisfying about reading good quality prose in one go, especially when one is pushed for time.
My first foray was The Marco Chronicles by Elizabeth Geoghegan, set in Rome, in which the author shares her experiences of the ‘Italian male’ in Rome. And all of her liaisons (she is clear they are really not boyfriend material), bar one, were called Marco, hence the title of this narrative.
“If Rome were a woman, she’d be a whore. The kind of whore that looks good from a distance or in just the right light. And while you are busy ogling her cupolas, she will deftly slip the wallet from your back pocket. She will deceive you and seduce you and she will be so intoxicating you will have a hard time letting her go”
The author just captures that sense of what it is to be in Italy – the smells, tastes and the views are terrifically brought to life (think fresh fettuccine, fennel, and the smell of rosemary and lavender assaulting your senses!). But fundamentally the Italian men are a conundrum to her, no, more than that, a no-go area. She likens them to anything ‘Made in Italy‘, to wit, ‘form over substance‘. Behind the sultry sunglasses, the shock of styled hair, the gait and the clothes, there is a man, who essentially is looking for a quick dive under the covers, but paradoxically wants a chaste young woman for his wife. Essentially it is the Madonna/Whore Complex, the Italian male splits his womenfolk into two – those who are suitable to bring home to Mama, and those who are suitable for sex. She goes on to describe some of the proclivities displayed by many of her encounters, and goes on to explain why on certain stretches of road around Rome there are beautiful, dark skinned women available to the passing motorist. Rome is also a lure for transvestites, you may ask yourself why? In parts this is a very interesting and illuminating read, in others the content is depressing because of the functional interactions between the male and female in Italy.
If you date four Marcos on the trot, who essentially are non-committers, there is of course a common denominator and I think it might have enhanced the generally bleak view to bring in some self reflection on why the author might have been drawn to a certain type of male, the narrative would have felt more rounded.
That said, I have heard what Geoghegan describes echoed elsewhere, so if you are intent on dating an Italian male, they come with a health warning; don’t be solely drawn in by the honed looks, do take a moment to reflect a little deeper!And read this memoir before you make any moves!
My second choice was Tangier Love Story, set in Tangier, by Carol Ardman. At a difficult period in her early life, Ardman discovered the writing of Jane Bowles and was inspired and captivated by this woman, so much so that she determined to search her out. Jane was “a lovely sophisticated expatriate with a daring life”. She tracked her and her husband, Paul, in Tangier and set off for a three week trip, much against the wishes of her family. Within a short period she found the company of Paul whilst Jane was in care after a debilitating stroke. It is a frank and illuminating depiction of life in Tangier in the 1970s, free love, same sex relationships, drugs…. It is also at times a frank and uncomfortable read as the author is in thrall to the charismatic Paul, who relishes his role as older man, mentor and educator, and, dare one say, manipulator. Ardman is encouraged to insinuate herself into Jane’s place, and as a star struck young woman, she extends her stay by more than a year, so that she can spend time with Paul and really get to know him.
It is, however an intriguing story, set against a powerful background of Tangier, that comes alive in the capable hands of this author.
Other touring titles include: The Risotto Guru by Laura Fraser (Italy), August in Paris (World) by Marion Winik and Jamaica Dreams (Jamaica) by Rosemarie Robotham. And for Paul Bowles books, click here.
Tina for the TripFiction Team