Synopses & Reviews
A portrait of the sun-drenched volcanic city from an American who has lost his heart to the place and to a beguiling and mysterious Neapolitan woman.
Weaving the tale of an elusive romance with a vivid and haunting evocation of a legendary metropolis, Dan Hofstadter brilliantly reveals Naples to us. He is our guide to the dilapidated architectural beauty and the irrepressible theater of the city’s everyday life; the centuries-old festivals that regularly overtake the jumbled streets; the conversations in dialect that start in the cafés after work and continue into the night; the countless curio shops where treasures mingle with kitsch. And he brings to life on the page the natives he befriends, people whose gestures and superstitions seem as ancient as Vesuvius: a master baker who’d rather be playing the stock market; an agoraphobic aunt who must meddle by phone; and, always, Benedetta, the object of our narrator’s fascination and affections, and, like her lifelong home-city, at once inviting and unfathomable.
Hofstadter’s Naples is an amalgam of equivocal beauty, vestigial beliefs, betrayed resolves, and half-concealed secrets, a wounded city whose commonplace wonders are vividly conjured in this rich and lyrical book.
"New Yorker contributor Hofstadter (The Love Affair as a Work of Art) poignantly writes of the crowded streets of Naples, his love for the city and the local woman who captivates him. The author has long adored Naples's charm and travels to the city as an adult for a translation project. There, he divides his time among his work, exploring the city and meeting some eccentrically charming people. Naturally, he falls for one of them, the passionate and bold Benedetta, with her 'unique blend of affection and defiance.' Other people Hofstadter encounters become some of his best friends: stuttering, chain-smoking Gigi Attrice, who dreams of being an actor; wedding photographer Donato Bianchi, who knows the albums he creates may become his young clients' most prized possessions; and the brainy Signora Perna, who believes unabashedly in the other world. Alas, Hofstadter's assignment ends, and he's forced to leave his newfound friends to return to America. Several years later he returns, spurred by a peculiar letter from Benedetta. Although it takes him a while to find her 'no one could find her until she wanted to be found' they eventually reunite. With enticing descriptions and backstories, Hofstadter adroitly captures both the allure and sorrow of Naples and its people. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Nov. 21)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Weaving the intrigue of an elusive romance with the vivid and haunting evocation of a legendary metropolis, the author brilliantly reveals Naples in this sun-drenched and lyrical book.
About the Author
Dan Hofstadter is the author of three previous books. His most recent, The Love Affair as a Work of Art, a collection of essays on French writers, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written for most national magazines and was for eight years a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives in the Hudson River Valley area of New York.