Book: An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley
I love launch days for new books. Particularly when they are written by friends. An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley, launches officially tomorrow, July 9. I’ve known David as an on-line friend for some time through the Travel Writer’s hangout known as travelwriters.com, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to read a review copy of his new book.
You could not ask for a more evocative description of Italian small-town life than this book. Yes, [amazon_link id="B002XULXYM" target="_blank" ]An Irreverent Curiosity[/amazon_link] is about Farley’s quest for an alternate Holy Grail, but it is really more about an American learning how to navigate communications in Italy.
David Farley impressed me with his methodical quest to find one of the more bizarre relics of Christendom–the foreskin of the baby Jesus. He uncovers a wagon load of legends, rumors, and gossip while he reads serious history everywhere he can find it, including the Vatican library.
I was intrigued with the organization of An Irreverent Curiosity. Here’s what David said:
“It took a lot of planning. I had to juggle 3 different story lines—present times, living in Calcata searching for the relic and writing about the village itself; the history of the village; the history of the relic, which I tried to sprinkle throughout the book in a chronological way and balance that with the present in a way that made sense all together.” He adds, “Actually I was surprised at how well it worked out.”
The title refers not to an object that is a curiosity, but the feeling of curiosity that a person experiences when exposed to something different. David’s curiosity about the physical object and its whereabouts is the very thing that sets the Papal teeth on edge. These relics are meant to stimulate reverence, not curiosity–idle or otherwise.
If this book were only about one of the thousands of bits and pieces of holy personages that populate Catholic churches (bones, skin, organs), particularly in Italy, I would lose interest fast. But cleverly, Farley mixes religious history with present day culture, and even the clash of various national cultures together with a crystal clear picture of an idyllic medieval village in Italy.
Even though Calcata, the town he and his wife live in, is more international hippy-hangout than typical small-town Italian, he gets plenty of exposure to new cultures–including the culture of the Vatican and Catholic priests. This means An Irreverent Curiosity is definitely a book for travelers–whether they are looking for history, religious enlightenment, or mysterious energy from rocks.
Anybody out there been to Calcata?
For other posts about Italy, see the “By Country” page.