Sunday, March 2, 2008


"IN THE SPRING OF 2003, Canadian writer Michelle Orange boarded a plane bound for Italy. The Sicily Papers is a series of letters she wrote while traveling alone throughout the region. Though originally meant to reassure an anxious correspondent, over time the letters, both high-spirited and frank, searching and satisfied, grew into something larger than the sum of their parts: a love letter to Italy, to an uncertain future, and to the lost art of letter writing itself." - publisher's note

"So in these moments you become acutely aware of yourself, every hour that has passed before you, your exact age and the perfection of this moment that is doomed to end and will never happen again and you'll look back on fondly until you die..."

"It just occurred to me that at times you come off as cynical but you are more of an optimist at heart. I am a cynic at heart and as such a hopeless, scandalous and, underneath it all, dreadfully romantic loser."

What I loved most about The Sicily Papers was filling in the blanks. Michelle gives B, the gentleman to whom the letters were addressed, part of the story. She describes her journies to find fresh fruit, her dreaded downtime waiting on roomates and tour guides, her impatience with American boys and their obsession over which women, from which countries, were the "hottest," her dealings with perverts trying to sneak peaks at her in the shower, her responses to B's letters, her reactions to the books she was reading, her lost underwear, her jealousy of a naked girl sunbathing on the beach, her evaluation of the Italian landscape, art, language, and cathedrals, and her love for Italian boys and shipmen. Michelle's letters reveal a woman infatuated with the Italian way of life, self-imagined or otherwise. This, in and of itself, is beautiful; it's enough to read the book and enjoy it on its own merit. This will provide the reader with a bad ass way to fill up a Sunday afternoon and you will set the book down feeling satisfied. But this is not what I loved the most.

I was blown away by the part of the story not being told to B, a gentlemen obviously vying for her affection. There are blanks, gaps in the story, contradictions, downtime, holes that I found myself jumping into and not wanting to leave. They were deep, muddy, murky, Michelle would meet a mysterious Italian stranger presenting her with flowers and her story would cut off. She spent time waiting on her Italian roomate and when he finally arrived the story spaced out. She was in love with Italian boys, she told B that much over and over and over again. She inquired after a few of them, but never mentioned what happened after the inquiries. She mentioned one of her Italian boys loved to hug and kiss and expressed jealousy towards B. This is when I found myself most curious. I wanted to hide in the bushes when she didn't think anyone was looking and tag along behind her and her companions on a Vespa. I wanted to pop up in unexpected places and find the story she wasn't telling in her letters, the nitty gritty she would never write home about.

All of this news, or lack there of, had to be killing the poor fucker at home. She was fucking with him bad, teasing, twisting, pouring it on, for no other reason, seemingly, than to satisfy her own intentions. Wait a minute. I'm not altogether convinced that what I just said was true. I'm not sure whether or not she had any idea what she was doing. I honestly couldn't tell. Women often misunderstand, or perhaps, overestimate a man's constitution. If she knew what she was doing I was partially fooled. She played the innocent, in love with life card.

B's stomach had to be in knots. The object of his affection is absolutely gorgeous (I met Michelle, she is gorgeous), parading through Italy, most of the time in a bathing suit top, in love with Italian boys, and he is stuck at home, angry, pissed off, nervous, wondering who has his woman bent over on all fours, sticking it in her ass. These letters possess an undertone of sadism, torment, that I find beautiful, engaging, and irresistable, even if it wasn't intended. I wish I knew. Buy the book, read it, love it, reread it, embrace it.

Released - October 24, 2006

Short Flight/Long Drive Books

ISBN / 0-9749541-4-4

$12.95 US

160 pages


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