What I’m Reading: The Leopard

It’s vacation week (sort of) and that means time to dust of the books that deserve some concentration and not a quick skimming. After having my curiosity piqued by the Sunday NYT travel section a few weekends ago, I ordered a copy of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) from Amazon and waited for it to come off of back order. I have not seen the 1968 Visconti movie starring Burt Lancaster, but will save that for after Beijing.

I spent this afternoon on Dead Neck covered in 30 spf and zinc oxide, listening to an iPod filled with Dylan, drinking diet Moxies and really getting into The Leopard. I give it a strongest recommendation if you’re in the mood for some great historical fiction about an interesting transition in Italian/Sicilian history (the Risorgimento — the rise of Garibaldi and the decline of the House of Bourbon). Lampedusa wrote this in his late 50s and died before it was published. It is definitely a masterpiece and a case of a literary talent realized too late, but gratefully at all.

I need to start thinking about Beijing reading — two massive flights generally eat books — and I guess I blew it by not saving David Maraniss’ fine Rome: 1960 for the flight. Anyway, it was good and it gave me some interesting perspective on the history of Olympic media.