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Florence: A Delicate Case (Writer and the City)

3.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
David Leavitt brings the wonders and mysteries of Florence alive, illuminating why it is, and always has been, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The third in the critically-acclaimed Writer and the City Series-in which some of the world's finest novelists reveal the secrets of the cities they know best-Florence is a lively account of expatriate life
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 1st 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 279)
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Mar 15, 2012 Preeti rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel, abandoned
I don't know if it was me being ignorant in the "classics" or what, but this book was just so nose-in-the-air that I just couldn't do it anymore. I got it out as a way to introduce myself to Florence (Italy) before my trip in a few weeks but it was nothing like I thought - hoped - it would be. I snuck a peek at another review on here when I was deciding if I should stop reading or not (I try not to read reviews of things until after I've read or watched them), and it called the author pretentiou ...more
Oct 27, 2015 AdiTurbo rated it did not like it
DNF. Is there a point to this book except for showing off the writer as well read and highly educated? Good writing goes to waste here on a bunch of unrelated anecdotes, historical and artistic pieces of information, unimportant personal material no one cares about and pretentious bullshit, all coming at you one after the other with no apparent reason or logical order. It also presents such silly statements as "Florence is a manly city", and suchlike, based on some famous person or another's wor ...more
Cute little hardcover; another $1 find at Half Price. Highly subjective and impressionistic, essay style, full of historical and pop references... It's one writer's view of Florence and its strange allure to the tourist. First dozen pages make it clear that this was not commissioned by the Florence tourism bureau or chamber of commerce; and if it was they would be suing. So far, Leavitt makes Florence sound about as inviting as plague-ravaged Europe in the 12th century. A lot is made of the fact ...more
Paul Tominac
Apr 04, 2012 Paul Tominac rated it did not like it
A small, thin book, like those one finds in boutiques---usually about cats, small dogs, and/or Paris, and mostly filled with pictures. This one could use pictures, if only for relief. Only five chapters, and almost none of them on Florence. Chapter five seems to explain why the book exists: David Leavitt is a gay author, and while he was in Florence, the last three "monuments" (his term) of the nearly century and a half existence of an expat Anglo-American Florentine community died. Gossips all, ...more
Apr 30, 2010 Djlown rated it it was ok
This is the third title I have read in Bloomsbury's very impressiontic 'Writer and the City' series. (The other two being John Banville on Prague and Edmund Wilson on Paris). Always short and unillustrated, the books follow the same format in pairing a famous writer with a famous city.
It is fair to say that one learns as much about the writer, as the city he (so far it always has been a he) is writing about.
To capture the reader's attention, the book starts with a cheap literary ploy: 'Florenc
Oct 12, 2010 Denise rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
Ugh. If I were a graduate student who thinks a tedium of examples of one thing will increase the reader's interest in my subject, and if my subject were 'the meaningless examples of British writers living in Florence, being homosexual and not accomplishing much' then I would love this book.

But I'm not. So I didn't.

I read it because it's part of The Writer and the City series and another book I've read of this series was great: 30 Days in Sydney, by Peter Carey. Also it was written by a UF profes
Hunted Snark
Oct 04, 2015 Hunted Snark rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the curious; fans of Firbank; lovers of literary gossip
Well I liked it.

Readable, gossipy, idiosyncratic, impressionistic: just what this series promises.

If you're after a tour guide, forget it. If you're after up to date facts and figures, forget it. If you're after solid history, forget it. If you want sumptuous pictures of the Pitti Palace, buy a picture book.

This isn't precisely about the bricks and mortar city of Florence. And it's not about the art, either. It's more the Florence of the outsider's imagination. If you like, it's the idea of Flor
Boring and pretentious, like an unimpressive masters thesis composed in about 70% of quotes from mediocre writers.
Jan 06, 2013 Steffi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firenze
Das Schöne an dem schmalen Band: Es werden nicht zum Hunderttausendsten Male Geschichten über die Zeit der Medicis, die Anfänge der Renaissance usw. wiedergekäut. Das Ernüchternde an dem Band ist: Die englischen (teils amerikanischen) Bewohner von Florenz vom Ende des 19. bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts werden nicht nur thematisiert – Leavitt schreibt über kaum etwas anderes. Wer sich für dieses Thema interessiert – meist geht es dabei um Schriftsteller – kommt absolut auf seine Kosten. Alle ...more
Aug 27, 2013 Myriam rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Re-read (bought & read it in Florence in 2006 when I was staying there for a summer course) of this charming little ‘refreshing antidote to the average city guide’ as the cover says. Not always fairly judged though, just because it is not a city guide and you will be disappointed if that is what you expect. Surely a book that opens with the sentence: ‘Florence has always been a popular destination for suicides’ will give you a particular view of … a popular destination. The author lived in F ...more
Feb 07, 2015 LemontreeLime rated it it was ok
i had picked this up second hand over 20 years ago, and didn't read it until now. It's an odd little psuedo travel book, more like a one sided conversation, and several digressions on subjects I really couldn't connect with.
Elizabeth Pergam
Jun 29, 2014 Elizabeth Pergam rated it liked it
Another book that's best read in situ, in this case Florence. Very personal musings on the relationship of ex-pats, mostly British, who have lived in Florence.
Mar 17, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I've always wanted to visit Florence, now I'm not so sure. Actually I still want to but now I feel like I may not be welcome, may not enjoy it as much. In the section of further reading David Leavitt describes another book as ill-tempered and opinionated. I feel like it could equally be applied to David's own book. I'm torn, this book is well researched and quotes extensively from historical and literary works but the very first thing it tells me is that Florence is a popular destination for sui ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Pierette rated it it was ok
I expected more. It jumped from one story to another without providing any substantial background to make the leap tangentiable. It was risky. That said, this is a difficult type of writing. The memoir-esque history cum travel novel is something rarely accomplished with ease. At least it had a list of recommended readings, and it never claimed credit for anything he hadn't come up with. I enjoyed the parts about "The Pope" or John Pope-Hennessey, but that is for personal reasons.
Mar 20, 2010 Tuck rated it liked it
one from a series called "writer and the city". this one is good, talks about why lots of people suicide there. of this series, banville in prague, perter carey in sydney, and edmund white in paris. edmund white is by far the best. LEARN HOW TO BE A FLANEUR. peter carey's is cool because its very subversive. banville's is the most straight "normal".

bloomsbury put out series in early naughties, but then stopped, for lack of interest? philistines
Apr 28, 2015 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-history
David Leavitt's book is a thin volume in The Writer and the City series. The author, who divides his time between the U.S. and Tuscany, seems to have focused his book mainly on the Anglo-Florentine colony. I enjoyed his chapters on the moving of David and his account of the flood of 1966 and the role of the "mud angels". He provides good notes on further reading about Florence, one of my favorite places.
Mar 05, 2016 Matthew rated it liked it
Enjoyable, discursive & full of recounted gossip, some quite bitchy! But there are some gems to aid the understanding of how Florence works.
Shawn Thrasher
Jul 16, 2013 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to describe this book - it's a little bit of history, a little bit of literature, some art history - how about a little literary love letter to Florence? I'd definitely recommend finding a copy and reading it if you are visiting this most beautiful and romantic of cities. Some of this was over my head, but all it was lovingly and beautifully written.
Dec 12, 2011 John rated it really liked it
David Leavitt has written a thoughtful and interesting book on Florence. Some reviewers have labelled this book as pretentious. Leavitt is a respected author writing about a city known for its fine art, so the tone is appropriate. What were these people expecting? Giggly stories about Paris Hilton tottering around Florence looking for a McDonalds?
Oct 11, 2009 Doug rated it liked it
Somewhat interesting and definitely well written history of the English colony in Florence, particularly its homosexual aesthetes, from the 18th c. to the last denizens of this curious crowd. A mixture of love and loathing for the people the author and his partner have apparently themselves chosen to become.
Dec 21, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: italy
I read almost anything about Florence, including murder mysteries set there. While
I usually enjoy a write's point of view and love
literary gossip, this had so little about Florence
and so much tittle tattle, that I was disappointed. The history of the anglophone
community became boring.
Sep 02, 2009 Carla rated it it was ok
For me, some parts of this book were more interesting to read than others. I didn't really enjoy the style in which this book was written (essay). I felt there was too much reference to books and movies which I have not seen or read. This made it hard to enjoy at times.
Apr 28, 2016 Rachel rated it it was ok
One of the dullest and most pretentious books I've read. Leavitt wants us all so badly to know how exceptionally interesting and intelligent he is that he forgets to write anything interesting or worth reading. I gave it two stars because it's Florence.
Sep 02, 2011 Caro rated it really liked it
Another in this terrific series on cities. Leavitt pays homage to Florence's Renaissance past but also discusses the Anglo-Florentine community and the flood of 1966. Great bibliography, too.
Apr 09, 2012 Traczy555 rated it did not like it
Ugh, Leavitt is self-indulgent and makes a whole lot of assumptions about the reader. This was like reading a really bad doctoral dissertation.
Ayelet Waldman
I read this right before we went to Florence, and it was a delightful window into that particularly gorgeous little city.
Michael Clark
Dec 22, 2010 Michael Clark rated it did not like it
Not what I wanted it to be....
Sunny Hill
Sunny Hill rated it really liked it
Apr 22, 2016
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Leavitt is a graduate of Yale University and a professor at the University of Florida, where he is the co-director of the creative writing program. He is also the editor of Subtropics magazine, The University of Florida's literary review.

Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work. He divides his time between Florida and Tuscany, Italy.
More about David Leavitt...

Other Books in the Series

Writer and the City (7 books)
  • 30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account
  • Ghost Town: Tales Of Manhattan Then And Now
  • Prague Pictures: A Portrait of the City
  • The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris
  • Rio de Janeiro: Carnival Under Fire
  • Oxford Revisited: A City Revisited

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