Wednesday, January 10, 2007

buongiorno, signorina

I've just started reading Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King. Apparently, I'm one of the few people who hasn't read this book, but I honestly hadn't even heard of it before someone handed it to me last year. No surprise there. There was a time when I was on the cutting edge - the bleeding edge, as it's called these days, which is a pretty gross term that makes me think of shaving mishaps - of all things old, new, borrowed and blue in the literary world, thanks to a generous e-friend who gave me the NYT Book Review as a gift. Alas, gift subscriptions eventually come to an end, and I had a hard time justifying the expense after taking more than a year off working for wages to finish writing the novel which, as we know, does not tend to fatten the coffers.

Back to the King book. It's enormously intelligent and fun, and I appreciate the fact that King doesn't lionize Michelangelo or Pope Julius II, or any of the players in the 16th century world of Italian art and religion. They were human beings struggling to varying degrees within the place and time to which they were born, and King doesn't whitewash or sugarcoat this. Quote in point: "It was not unknown for artists to get embroiled in fights or even murders...Michelangelo himself had been on the receiving end of a blow from Pietro Torrigiano, another sculptor who punched him so hard on the nose, following a dispute, that Torrigiano later recalled, "I felt the bone and cartilage crush like a biscuit."" I love reading books by authors who likewise love their subject matter.

I have seen the vault of the Sistine Chapel, though it was more than 15 years ago and I undoubtedly did not appreciate it as much as I would now, careless spoiled youngster that I was. Still, even then that work struck me as the beating heart of Vatican City, the way Trevi Fountain struck me as the beating heart of Rome. Or maybe it was just the gorgeous Italian guy who flirted as I descended the fountain steps. I'll admit it. I have a thing. I totally get Jamie Curtis' reaction to Kevin Kline and John Cleese when they start speaking Italian in A Fish Called Wanda, but I'll try not to let it get in the way of objective reading as I finish this book.


  1. >>>Torrigiano later recalled, "I felt the bone and cartilage crush like a biscuit." <<< Okay..not only is this really just *ICK*, but it sounds OUCHY!! Good luck with the book..I haven't read much more than Dr. Seuss in say..10 years. LOL

  2. >>I haven't read much more than Dr. Seuss in say..10 years. LOL

    Okay, the fact that you actually read MY book only a year ago can't say much for my publishibility. (Or can it? Dr. Seuss is one famous dude).