Thursday, October 27, 2016

Writing about WWII in Italy by Ian Lahey (GUEST POST)

Welcome to the blog, author Ian Lahey!

Writing about WWII in Italy

When my dad, Michael Lahey, set out to collect information about the Allied forces landing in Anzio, and their struggling north towards Rome, he quickly realized two things: The first thing was that reading a history book just isn't enough. You have to visit the place, breathe the air, touch the rocks and speak to the people, especially the latter, to really understand what happened around these places. The other thing he realized is you just can't dig into the Italian past looking for war history without a whole lot of other history turning up as well.

It's...well, it's intoxicating.

The fact is that you can't dig a hole in Italy, or drop a bomb if you're in that kind of a conundrum, without getting involved in archaeology. Chances are you'll run into stuff like Roman houses, Celtic cups and especially the burial sites of the Etruscans - one of the world's most mysterious populations - and probably spend a lot of time researching the wrong century, simply because it's all so interconnected.

Once you've shaken that off, go and interview the people who were there during the war. Now, seventy-two years after the Anzio Landings, you'll find very few direct witnesses, but, and I forgot to tell you this, my dad started his research back in the 80s, when I was just a moody teenager.
Speaking to the Italians about their memories of war required making friends, and that brought along a whole new area of discovery, mainly situated around the dinner table. Heck, do I remember some of those meals!

Most of Italy's long and wonderful history has left some trace of its passing in the country's immense culinary culture, and what isn't in the recipes you'll find in the wines.

Sweet wines, stark, unforgiving wines, wines that bear names otherwise lost in modern Italian language, and wines which will whisper to your soul and may even draw tears.

When we wrote Jim's story, we just had to take into account this overwhelming cultural tsunami which could not wash past him without changing him.

That is why, when he is finally reached by his nephew, Robert, Jim feels the urge to let him experience the same. He knows he's been changed and needs Robert to change too - to absorb the culture - before he can be told the full truth.

The result was a story of one war which took place in a land of many wars, of mines and other dangerous things buried underground but also in people's hearts, and of mysteries, some jealously kept by a hardened veteran, others lurking in the cold darkness of an Etruscan tomb.

Description from Amazon:

A Christmas card from Italy arrived on Robert Svenson’s desk. There was no return address, but when Bob opened the card, it was signed by his uncle, James Savorski. Nice, except for the fact that Uncle Jim was declared MIA back in ’44. Forty years later he’s sending solid gold Etruscan amulets for Christmas presents? Bob resolved to travel to Italy to see if he could find his long lost uncle.
How does one find a dead man in Italy without knowing the language or having an address? All Bob knew was that losing his luggage and his money the first night in Rome didn’t help. Then he found himself picking his way through a minefield of old scars and memories of war.
Along the way he journeys through Italy’s art and its incredible archaelological treasures, its history and people. A tale of war and mines and other things buried underground and even deeper—in the hearts of those who lived those years.

About the Author:

Ian Lahey teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. An incessant traveler, he has visited the country from coast to coast (which doesn't take much), and from head to toe (which is somewhat longer).
Florence, Naples, Rome, and then Venice, Verona and Genoa are his second homes but he will never admit this in the presence of a tax agent. Although he's visited many times he never tires of them and of the stories, both ancient and modern, which these places tell.

These stories he re-tells, sometimes as they were, other times hidden beneath the veil of imagination and scientific speculation, but always with a good sprinkle of humor. 
He can often be spotted taking long walks with his wife around his hometown near Udine, and can be easily wiled with offerings of fresh beer or Dr. Who marathons.

You can connect with Ian Lahey via Twitter @ian_lahey or his author website:

No comments:

Post a Comment