Thursday, June 15, 2017

Four Seasons in Rome

On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. This is a journal of Anthony Doerr's year in Rome with his family. As he came home from the hospital after his wife had given birth to twins, in the mail he found news from the American Academy of Arts and Letters that he was the recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize. It came with a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. So when the twins were six months old, he and his wife pack them up, leave Boise and settle in Rome. Pope John Paul II is fading, and rallying, and finally dies while the family is in Rome. Doerr is not religious, though he seemed touched by the very familiarity of the Pope. He enters a pool betting on the next Pope (he doesn't choose the eventual frontrunner). Aside from the Catholicism that gets skipped over (he was within walking distance of the Vatican and it's scarcely mentioned! This Catholic, who dreams of going to Rome precisely to see the holy spots is aghast.) I will admit, though, he was busy. I remember those new parent days; and I didn't have twins. His wife Shauna is quite capable and they were able to hire a Philipina babysitter so they could have time together. Owen and Henry, the twins, learned to walk and talk in the eternal city; and it must have felt eternal to Doerr, for on the rare occasion when both boys slept, he couldn't. He read Pliny the Elder because he couldn't write, except for this illuminating journal.

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