It’s somehow appropriate that a book comprised of select writings on Venice would begin with Jan Morris’ arrival by sea, describing a city that is “very old, and very grand, and bent-backed” whose “towers survey the lagoon in crotchety splendor.”
The editors of city-pick: Venice have succeeded in gleaning a rich variety of well-hewn chronicles, narrations and descriptions as lived by fictional characters, like Inspector Brunetti and Miss Garnet, and real-life residents, whether Venetian by birth like Tiziano Scarpa and Casanova; or by choice, like Henry James or Paolo Barbaro; even those just passing through, like Simone de Beauvoir and her companion Jean-Paul Sartre.
The editor’s picks span countries (Brodsky, Goethe, Twain), centuries (Dickens, Mann), and genres (mystery to travel). Some of the authors are world famous, like D.H. Lawrence; some decidedly less so. There are even a few surprising appearances like Judith Martin (better known as Miss Manners), and writings reach from the present day to centuries past even though Dickens recount hardly seems dated.
City-pick: Venice might just as well be called “author pick;” but whether you choose it as a Venice warm-up, or only as a sampler to direct you to preferred authors’ more ample works, it’s a worthy and rewarding read.
Published by Oxygen Books, oxygenbooks.co.uk
Edited by Heather Reyes
Pub date: Dec 2 2010
ISBN: 978 0 955 9700 8 5
£8.99 – $8.88
Other city-pick cities include Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, London, and Paris.
For what could be a complete list of books and readings on Venice, see Jeff Cotton’s FictionalCities.com – he also wrote the Venice introduction.