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Book Reviews of Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World
Four Seasons in Rome On Twins Insomnia and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World
Author: Anthony Doerr
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ISBN-13: 9781442394971
ISBN-10: 1442394978
Publication Date: 9/1/2015
Edition: Unabridged
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Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Book Type: Audio CD
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3 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

ATraveler2 avatar reviewed Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World on + 67 more book reviews
Cute, quick read. Nice descriptions of Rome.
reviewed Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World on + 529 more book reviews
A wonderful book written by a talented writer. The Doerr family travel with twin infant sons to Rome, Italy where Doerr is on a paid one-year stipend to write a novel. Doerr shares of visiting the Pantheon, St.Peters Basilica, the vigil of John Paul II, as well as adventures to piazzas, local landsights of Italy, and the culture of the the Italians. A great, quick read.
terez93 avatar reviewed Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World on + 273 more book reviews
The eclectic title captures the essence of this book perfectly, and the experience of living in Italy perfectly! As a scholar on a fellowship in Italy, I experienced firsthand what Doerr describes here, namely the agony and the ecstasy of life in Rome. The ecstasy is self-explanatory; the agony... well, read the book. One of my own examples: in the great library at the Academy, I read in a nineteenth-century book about Roman topography of a lime kiln located near the forum of Caesar, in which were found numerous sculptures, which were rescued, but to think about all the pieces that weren't is terrible. I wonder if that was the fate of countless priceless masterpieces we'll never know about. Oh, and, nothing works or runs on time in Rome. Enough said.

I included some passages here from my own travel journal I wrote when I lived there. Suffice to say, this book spoke to me, because I lived it (sans twins and an elaborate funeral).

The entire scale of Rome is staggering: I remember the first time I visited, in 2004, and it's overwhelming. I remarked that âshock and aweâ seem to be the overall intent. Take, for example, Saint Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican, which was modeled after the original basilicas in Rome, such as the basilica of Constantine and Maxentius, now in ruins, in the Roman Forum. The vastness is cavernous and overwhelming, but some other people have remarked that after a while, when you've made many visits or repeatedly go to mass there and you become accustomed to the sheer enormity of the structure, you become more familiar with its features, and it becomes almost comfortable and intimate. I think I would need to spend some serious time there before coming to that conclusion!

Rome in general just makes one contemplative. For example, when walking through the ancient city, with the remains of millennia under your feet, I often wonder, based on so many of the historic paintings, drawings and engravings (and often the remains themselves) of ancient Rome I have seen, about the process of its destruction. There are so many famous renderings of structures such as the Basilica of Constantine, as well as the Colosseum, and I more often than not wonder more about their decay as opposed to their actual construction. What was the process like that reduced them to the state they're in now? In the case of the former⦠what happened? Was one of the largest, most magnificent structures in the city just completely abandoned, like an old warehouse, to decay? Someone actually wrote a book about the flora and fauna found among the famous ruins, now microcosm ecosystems in their own right which have unique properties not found in the surrounding landscape. Time has melted them into the ground and transformed them into worlds all their own.

I now have some parallels to draw from in the modern day, looking at some of the rust belt cities in the US, like Detroit; someone posted an article on Facebook not too long ago of an abandoned library, with books strewn all over the room and the roof partially collapsed. How did that happen? How did the books get like that? In the ancient case, what happened to all of the columns, the marble floors, the mosaics, the sculptures? And when? At what point had these literally decadent, "falling away" structures deteriorated to such a degree that no one bothered to enter the buildings anymore, at least for their original purpose?

So, time. It demonstrates both persistence and yet impermanence. In the case of Rome, we're all just passing through. Someone I know told the story about how they had been talking to an Italian, and when they asked where he was from he replied that he was sort of Roman, as he had been born in Rome, but that his great-great-grandfather was from somewhere else, so he wasn't âreallyâ Roman in the full sense. We were talking about this at dinner once, about how some people think that Rome takes but rarely gives back anything. I think that it is unconcerned, overall, and leaves each individual to make their mark, accepting all and letting you take away what you will. It's been here so long that it's generally apathetic. The people who live here and experience it, however, are anything but.