It starts, in 1974, with a girl (it always starts with a girl). Aldo and Vanda, youngish Neapolitans, have been married for twelve years. They have two children, Sandro (nine) and Anna (five), and a fair income from Aldo’s university job; they go on family trips to campsites and beaches. They’re models of everyday life. But when Lidia (nineteen) enrols on Aldo’s ‘economics and business’ course, his head is turned and he walks out of the family home. He’s away for four years – and then he comes back to Vanda. Lidia vanishes. The marriage goes on. They’re still together today.
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'I began to wonder whether, like one of Kaufman’s ... characters, I had in fact always been reading Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind; if my reading of Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind was in some strange fashion coextensive with my experience of life itself.'
'The relish with which we made for beaches, hills and dales as soon as the most stringent restrictions were lifted suggests a widespread craving for contact with the natural world not met by a brief turn around the local park.'
Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.