Four Stories About Naples, Plus One By Me
I’m talking about the Naples that comes with this view, not the one down I75 in southern Florida.
I’m in a Neapolitan state of mind, consumed by tales from the ancient city on the Amalfi Sea.
One you can’t read yet, because I’m still writing it (see below). The others, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, are stunning…and contain what are possibly the most soul gripping words I’ve ever read.
Ferrante is a writer who can turn her characters inside out and back again.
Beginning with the first of these four novels, My Brilliant Friend, you’ll know those characters intimately. You’ll love, hate, or admire them; some will disgust you, but you’ll care for them anyway; some you’ll pity; and at least one you’ll recognize as part of yourself. By the second novel, The Story of a New Name, you’re invested emotionally in their future.
You don’t have to ever have been to Naples or even want go there to get hooked by these stories covering 60 years of friendship, rivalries, loves, betrayals, life played out on the stage of post-war Naples through to the present time.
Now that I’m on Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay, the third of the quartet with only Story of the Lost Child to go, I know I’m going to miss them when they’re gone—Elena, Lila, Enzo, Marcello, Nino…every one of them.
But I have been to Naples, several times, and the first time I went is the backdrop for my story.
Back in the early days of my transition period (I changed marital status, not gender), I went to Naples at the invitation of friends who had an agenda much different from mine which was to consume as much Neapolitan food as I could in a four day period and then write about it.
It became a two day trip that included one exquisite meal I was too outraged to even remember and another in an opulent hotel restaurant that left me with a memory having nothing to do with my spaghetti con le vongole.