Floricanto Press has just published Marc Zimmerman’s The Italian Daze: Notes of a Lost Traveler (2017), the English-language version of Marc Zimmerman’s La penisola non trovata (Milano: Greco e Greco 2017), which was presented at Torino’s International Book Fair in May 2017), the Italian version translated by Marco Codebó and both versions introduced by the Alessandro Carrera. The book is listed on Amazon.
According to the book blurb: “The Italian Dazeportrays the Italian American and Italian connections of a Jewish American in the course of his wandering life. The book opens with a catalog of Italian foods, cultural actors, heroes and villains, etc., culminating with a litany of Italian and Jewish Americans. Next come four parts reviewing early loves, travels with an Italian American wife, and subsequent encounters. Depicting key Italian locales, the book includes some of the paradoxes in Italian and Italian-American life, as well as the author’s concerns with Fascism, the Holocaust, the mafia, possible afro-phobia, and recent turns in Italian politics. A final coda portrays Mel’s most recent Italian trip, a series of public demonstrations, and our aging hero’s final dream of being lost and dazed in the labyrinth that is Rome and Italy.”
About the book, Professor Carrera, a brilliant and prolific author, tell us that
“Zimmerman’s protagonist, Mel, is a tireless traveler who separates himself from his East coast Jewish roots, only to find an Italy that knows no geographic boundaries and extends from the New Jersey/ New York area, to San Francisco, San Diego, Mexico and Spain, and then to the Abruzzi mountains, Rome, Florence, Venice, Houston, Puerto Rico and Chicago. But Mel never really finds Italy; his enterprise is doomed from the start. [Because] for the Italians as well as for him, Italy remains an elusive space—the shadow of a fleeting dream, a mystery, a pilgrimage peninsula itself wandering the world, reaching out toward the rest of the world—but never quite able to find itself.”
Readers of El BeiSMan might imagine this book to be distant from Zimmerman’s usual look at matters Latino and Latin American. Zimmerman explains the issue in his opening note, where he tells his readers:
The Italian Americans and African Americans were the first significant others in my Jewish New Jersey childhood. Both groups came to play major roles in my life and letters, only to be surpassed by the Latinos and Latin Americans who became central to my life experience. This book follows the Italian American and Italian strands of my shifting days, my overall daze—the hazy, but sometimes dazzling maze of my labyrinthine ways.
And as a matter of fact, many stories show Zimmerman’s protagonist as a Jewish Latin Americanist making his way though Italian encounters, often with his Puerto Rican wife bolstering the Latin American perspective crucial to his narrative. Such is the case with the story, “Menace in Venice,” which follows.
Along with the story, we include Alessandro Carrera’s translation of the first review of the Italian version of the book, which appeared in Italy shortly after its publication.
Guillermo Simbolov is an Guatemalan critic whose work appears time to time in El BeiSMan.