Four Seasons in Rome

Doerr, Anthony. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. New York: Scribner, 2007.

Reason read: Doerr celebrates a birthday in November, or something like that.

Imagine coming home from the hospital after your wife has just given birth to twins and discovering you have won an award that will send you to Rome for a year, an award you didn’t ask for or even know about. So, six months later you pack up aforementioned wife and boys and off to Rome you go. Doerr spends the next year reading Pliny, exploring the ancient city and marveling at life BT (before twins) and AT (after twins). He is observant and witty on all accounts but by his own admission is too busy staring at Italy to write anything constructive. Until Four Seasons is born. If you are to read just one page of Four Seasons in Rome I strongly recommend reading page 141, starting with “What is Rome”.

Quotes I liked, “Sleep is a horizon: the harder you row toward it, the faster it recedes” (p 26) and “Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we are not careful, pretty soon we’re gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack ” (p 54). There were many more, but I’ll leave it a that.

Author fact: Doerr has received two O. Henry Prizes and this book was as a result of winning an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, affording him a stipend ($1,300/month) and a writing studio in Rome.

Book trivia: there are no photographs in Four Seasons in Rome. I’m disappointed. There are, however, illustrations by Brian Rea at the beginning of each season.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Roman Holiday” (p 189).

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