Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Shawn Levy: 'Dolce Vita Confidential' (2016)

Shawn Levy's Dolce Vita Confidential: Fellini, Loren, Pucci, Paparazzi, and the Swinging High Life of 1950s Rome (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016) takes us on a wild Italian ride from about the end of World War Two until the mid-1960s. 

Barely five or ten years after the war, economic activity "mushroomed . . . recasting Italy from the buffoonish ally of Nazi Germany into a hive of style, culture, fine craft, genteel living, and even heavy industry."  (pages 195-196). During that time, it became one of the hippest places in the world to experience firsthand. 

There are so many characters in Dolce Vita Confidential, some large and some small, that one cannot help being drawn in. 

Consider Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, Marquis of Portago (aka Fon de Portago), a Spaniard by lineage and sometime race-car driver, and his philosophy of life:

"'I want to live to be 105 . . . I'm enchanted with life. But no matter how long I live, I still won't have time for all the things I want to do. I won't hear all the music I want to hear, I won't be able to read all the books I want to read, I won't have all the women I want to have. I won't be able to do a twentieth of the things I want to do. And besides just the doing, I insist on getting something out of it.'" (page 214).

In 1957, the Fon was killed in a racing accident while driving a Ferrari -- along with a slew of others -- at age twenty-eight.

In addition to memorable stories about film directors, actors, designers, photographers, expatriates, and trouble-makers, Dolce Vita Confidential includes very helpful endnotes, bibliography and list of films from the period, making it a nifty reference work as well as a tasty treat. 

Today's Rune:  Breakthrough. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, lost at 28. Way too young