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The Venice Chronicles
posted February 4, 2009

imageCreator: Enrico Casarosa
Publishing Information: AdHouse, hardcover, 144 pages, 2008, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 0981845509 (ISBN10), 9780981845500 (ISBN13)

I've read books that were so right up my alley I secretly believed the author created it just for me; this may be the first book that I've ever owned where I think the author created it just for me only one half to delight me and the other half to specifically drive me up the wall. The Bay Area-based Casarosa has chops to spare, and much of this gorgeous-looking and attractively-priced book is a genial travelogue that shows not only some of the sights he sees on the journey suggested in the title but also things like the interior of an apartment where they have dinner and some of the vehicles employed to get from here to there. If like me you call up real estate sites to look at condo floorplans you'll never be able to afford simply because you like looking at the spaces in which people live and operate, this is quite the gift.

However, Casarosa makes the overarching framework of The Venice Chronicles the deepening of the relationship between himself and his now wife and the artist's hopes and dreams for the same. I did not like these sections. I suppose this material will delight a lot of people, and it's entirely possible I'm a bad person for not being one of them. It's just that for me, the cloying qualities of these sequences is turned up to 111 on a 10-point scale -- and I didn't just mistype the third "one," I really mean 111 on a 10-point scale. Worse, Casarosa doesn't settle on one way of presenting this material, so all of the talking to the audience and the mini-digressions and the has-to-be sincere "I'm a goofy guy but well-meaning at the heart of it all and isn't she great boy I'm lucky" stuff tossed me right out of the book for their jarring structural digressions in addition to their content making me grind my teeth. I wish I felt differently; I wish the experience went differently.