The David Sedaris-like protagonist makes his living by ghost-writing celeb quickie memoirs: "Downhill All the Way! is about a skier; "Hot Seat!" is about a stock car driver... you get the idea. He finds the ideal little Tuscan villa to fix up, while satirizing every posh ex-pat book since the 1990s. But wait! There's a new neighbor, Marta--a shabby composer from a sketchy Eastern Bloc family--who absolutely insists on sharing our hero's penchant for 80-proof Fernet. A riotous farce worthy of rereading every few years.
I acquired my first copy from a display table at Looking Glass Books in Portland, Oregon.— From Matthew's Picks
A witty satire of the expat experience in rural Europe and antidote to every 'wish-you-were-here' travel memoir, this novel is entertainment in its purest form.
Gerald Samper is all about the good life. On his own private hilltop in idyllic Tuscany, he is living his own brand of la bella vita working as a ghostwriter for celebrities. He wiles away his free time concocting outrageous dishes with the distinctive liqueur gifted to the area's new arrivals. But it's not long before his little slice of paradise is shattered by the arrival of an eccentric neighbor.
Marta is a composer on the run from 'Voynovia, ' a crime-riddled Eastern European nation to which she owes her distinctive accent. With her nocturnal helicopter visits and habitual piano-playing, it's not long before the two clash and become embroiled in an absurd turf war. The battle compels each side to devise increasingly strange retaliations: a back-and-forth which features such delicacies as Gerald's batch of Garlic and Fernet Branca Ice Cream and Marta's parody of her neighbor's terrible singing for a film score she's composing.
With each ridiculous misunderstanding, the two are brought into ever closer and ever more disastrous proximity. In their earnest attempts to narrate their side of the story it quickly becomes apparent how unreliable they both really are. An adroit, charming and bitingly funny comedy of manners for anyone who finds humor in the idiosyncrasies of human behavior.