Review by Vinoo
Author : Italo Calvino
‘The Road to San Giovanni’ is a collection of autobiographical pieces, and has five pieces, each one brilliant. My favourite of the lot is ‘A Cinema-goer’s Autobiography’. Sample this, ‘What used to be called the Hollywood firmament formed a system entire unto itself, with its own contrasts and its own variables, a human typology.
The actors represented models of character and behavior; there was a hero available for every temperament; for those who aimed to tackle life through action, Clark Gable represented a sort of brutality leavened with boastful swagger, Gary Cooper was cold blood filtered through irony; for those who counted on overcoming obstacles with a mixture of humour and savoir faire, there was the aplomb of William Powell and the discretion of Franchot Tone; for the introvert who masters his shyness there was James Stewart, while Spencer Tracy was the model of the just, open-minded man who knows how to do things with his hands; and we were even given a rare example of the intellectual hero in Leslie Howard.’ He also has an interesting take on the heroines of the time. And, quoting from the first story ‘The Road to San Giovanni’ ‘…and if we weren’t there to help him father would come down over-loaded – ‘like a mule’ was the traditional image – flaunting his burden perhaps partly so as to have our desertion weigh on us…’
Surely has to be one of my all-time favourite writers. Also reading ‘Invisible Cities’.
Useless trivia : ‘The Road to San Giovanni’ was supposed to have a few more pieces and was to be titled ‘Passagi obbligati’ but it is incomplete says Esther Calvino in the foreword to the book. It was meant to have a few more like ‘Instructions for the other self’, ‘Cuba’, ‘The Objects’ and hence the title that was meant to be used hasn’t been.