This week I finished reading Sometimes I Dream in Italian by Rita Ciresi. From the title and the jacket blurb I thought I was going to be reading a funny book. It’s fiction but reads like a memoir. Unlike a certain recently-published “memoir,” however, this book does not claim to be true. Actually it is a “novelization” of various previously-published short stories.
I should have read the back cover of the jacket, where Ciresi is compared to Nora Ephron. Like Ephron, Ciresi is funny, but with an angry edge. Sometimes she’s just plain angry. The inner jacket calls the book “lovingly written” but I didn’t see much love here.
The story centers on a pair of sisters, daughters of Italian immigrants. They spend their lives trying to escape their heritage and the “embarrassment” their parents are to them. They never succeed, and instead seek into various states of anger, depression, despair, jealousy–they live in a poisoned emotional world.
This book failed to measure up to the hopes I had for it–much as the characters’ lives failed to measure up to their own hopes.