So says Mario Stefani, one of the myriad of characters that populate John Berendt's latest book. If he is correct, then, John Berendt must be a true Venetian. Berednt spent years in "La Serenissima," investigating the occurence of the fire that burned the Fenice theatre on January 29, 1996. His investigation takes him to a variety of places, exploring Venetian culture and history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The book meanders; often one wonders, "what does Henry James have to do with the burning of the Fenice? But the characters are intriguing. John Berendt has a gift for observing and describing people, and he does this to perfection in The City of Falling Angels. There are the two ex-presidents of the Save Venice Foundation, dedicated to the saving of Venice as well as a petty quarrel over the running of the foundation; a glassblower whose family has been in the business for centuries; the so-called Rat Man, who has invented a fool-proof recipe for killing rats; the First Family of American ex-patriots, the Cabots, who have been living in the same palazzo since the 1880s; electricians; politicians; mafiosi; lawyers; and many more.
John Berendt interviewed scores of people, getting the story from several different viewpoints. Its difficult to realize, sometimes, that this is a work of nonfiction. All these people are (or were) real; Berendt proves that sometimes real people are more interesting than those who are created in the imagination.