by Dan Hofstadter
New Yorker contributor Hofstadter (The Love Affair as a Work of Art) poignantly writes of the crowded streets of Naples, his love for the city and the local woman who captivates him. The author has long adored Naples’s charm and travels to the city as an adult for a translation project. There, he divides his time among his work, exploring the city and meeting some eccentrically charming people. Naturally, he falls for one of them, the passionate and bold Benedetta, with her “unique blend of affection and defiance.” Other people Hofstadter encounters become some of his best friends: stuttering, chain-smoking Gigi Attrice, who dreams of being an actor; wedding photographer Donato Bianchi, who knows the albums he creates may become his young clients’ most prized possessions; and the brainy Signora Perna, who believes unabashedly in the other world. Alas, Hofstadter’s assignment ends, and he’s forced to leave his newfound friends to return to America. Several years later he returns, spurred by a peculiar letter from Benedetta. Although it takes him a while to find her—”no one could find her until she wanted to be found”—they eventually reunite. With enticing descriptions and backstories, Hofstadter adroitly captures both the allure and sorrow of Naples and its people.
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