Friday, April 27, 2007

A project in mind

After what seems like an eternity away from the keyboard in any creative sense I think I might just about be ready to get back into book-writing mode. My target this time is the totally unambitious idea of writing "The Great Scottish Italian Novel" (that's not the title, by the way). As far as I am aware nobody has done it so far. There have been a few non-fiction books on the subject, some plays and screenplays and a few novels that have scratched the surface. But nothing going into the depth I would like to reach - a kind of Godfather trilogy for the fish and chip frying fraternity.

The premise is simple enough, really, tell the story of a family forced to leave Italy through poverty in the early 20th century. Their trials and tribulations in Scotland, tough times through the Second World War when many were interned and finally, I guess, their victory over that adversity. Something along those lines anyway.

At the moment I am trying to immerse myself in the culture of Italy from about 1900 to 1940, if anybody has any recommended reading material it would be gratefully accepted. Of course, another part of my inspiration will be some truly bad, home-brewed grappa. Although probably not too much or I might find myself slumped across my computer.

11 comments:

Brian said...

Will it be called the "Codfather"? .............sorry just couldn't resist it ;0)

ginkers said...

I've been trying to resist that one, although it is a cracker.

Spangly Princess said...

oooh early 20th century Italian culture? what kind of thing do you want? I can give you a whole reading list ;-) do you want novels, histories, social and economic studies, popular culture? in English or Italian?

ginkers said...

Spangly

I think history and a bit of popular culture would be best. Either English or Italian, although it would probably be easiest for me to get my hands on anything in English. And anything centred on Tuscany would be great.

Life Lines said...

If there's a hopeless roller-skating waitress in your book, then consider yourself sued!

ginkers said...

If she is there, she will just be passing through...

Spangly Princess said...

OK off the top of my head I woudl suggest:

for a really good thorough economic history - including what would I think be useful insights on working life, industry, farming etc - try Vera Zamagni's An economic history of Italy 1860-1990 (Oxford 1993).

On daily life in Fascist Italy you want to read Richard Bosworth's brilliant and highly entertaining Mussolini's Italy (Penguin 2005) if you haven't already. Frank Snowden wrote his doctorate on the social origins of Fascism specifically in Tuscany, iirc, so he must have subsequently published on it.

In Italian, the multi-volume region-by-region history published by Einaudi in a sort of sickly green is excellent, ambitious, detailed, far-ranging and accessible. You should probably invest in the Toscana volume.

You want to read about radio and about film & the Istituto Luce too I guess, also fumetti and newspapers. For all of these plus fashion, food etc, try David Forgacs, and especially his edited book with Robert Lumley (OUP, 1996 I think). Ooh and on food, Carol Heltosky Garlic and Oil is great, full of useful information on the regional traditions and on what ordinary Italians actually ate on a daily basis.

Oh, and if you want anything to read about Italy in WWI you can always enquire of any historians of your acquaintance who happened to write their doctorates on the subject ;-)

martinobhoy said...

Can I be the Tom Hagen character?

The scruffy Irish urchin taken under the wing of the Italian family.

ginkers said...

Spangly

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I will follow it up and let you know how I get on tracking down some volumes. Once I get started I may well pester you for more info.

Martino

To be sure, 'twoud be an honour.

Life Lines said...

table 40 .... table 16 .... table 7 ... [break through fire doors - violently and with some blood] ..Covent Garden ... Leicester Square ... Soho (home of Triad) Waterloo Bridge ... [wee wheels sparking by now] ... bloody encounter with Sprangly Princess'book shelf - knocked out by Istituto Luce. Oh god, you are never goint to take me seriously again!

ginkers said...

What do you mean again?