Books for (Italian) Dummies #5

In America with Oriana Fallaci III.

Oriana Fallaci, Se il sole muore (‘If the Sun Dies’), Milano, Rizzoli, 1965.

Just a few words. It was the time of Space Race, people believed we would have established our first colony on Mars by 1996. To an Italian eye, everything in America looked brand new, strong, unbreakable. But Fallaci noticed how everything looks hopelessly fake.

This is a report, but also a journal, but written like the most captivating a novel. And between the portray of an astronaut and the other, among many picture of places and situations, you can find a lot about America.

Oriana Fallaci, Viaggio in America, Milano, RCS, 2014

As the editor says in his intro, in 1965 Fallaci was already a prominent journalist, everyone read her interview to Hollywood celebrities, her books were best-sellers. I sette peccati di Hollywood (‘The Seven Sins of Hollywood’), 1958; Il sesso inutile (‘The Useless Sex: Voyage around the Woman’), 1961; Penelope alla guerra (‘Penelope at war’), 1962; Gli antipatici (‘Limelighters’), 1962. Between 1963 and 1964 Fallaci conducted an investigative report on NASA; she spent weeks with the astronauts (the novel Se il sole muore, ‘If the Sun Dies’, was the result of that experience), in the meanwhile she writes for the newspaper L’Europeo a series of articles on the United States, published between 1965 and 1967. Viaggio in America (‘Journey around America’) is a choice of those articles, that the editor divided into sections, posthumously published in 2014. Fallaci has a mordacious style. She depicts a cruel, dangerous, New York, very distant from stereotype. A place in which one can die for a taxi ride, where the most common sports is sneaking in a woman’s flat and kill her for no reason, where woman regularly fleece their ex-husbands. Old ladies with pretty hats, apple-pie scented, embodiment of pre-war bon-ton that suddenly swear as soon as they see a photo of Kennedy. Fallaci talks about Liz Taylor’s and Eddie Fisher’s divorce from the husband’s and the daughter’s perspective, explaining how poor Liza changes her surname everytime, and I imagine Italian 1960s ladies’ scandalized expressions. She talks about the first generation astronauts and I remember my mother quoting my great-grandmother saying “OMG they are going up there and they will mess everything”.

There’s nothing much to say about it. Just read it.


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