Thursday, April 21, 2011

La commedia e finita . . .

I was cooking Italian with my twelve-year-old son the other day. Leoncavallo's Vesti la Giubba from Pagliacchi was playing in the background. (Pavarotti does an awesome version, but my favorite is the old, grainy recording of Enrico Caruso. Talk about pain and angst.)
As we cooked the pasta, my assistant/son was entertaining me. He does a spot-on impression of Jamie Oliver. He picked up a tennis ball.

"Look at this lemon," he said, sounding a lot like Jamie. "Fresh, lovely taste. It's literally beautiful."

"Um, Jamie?" I replied. "That's not a lemon. It's a tennis ball."

"What are you going on about, woman? Are you mad? Of course it's lemon. Look at it's beautiful yellow color!"

We went on like this for a while, and it was fun. This child always surprises me. He has a great sense of humor, and he's a bit of a rebel when it comes to following the rules. Kind of like the character of Pagliacchi. He's a rebel, too. He actually speaks at the end of the opera. (You just don't do that, people. Speaking is strictly forbidden in this musical genre. That's why they sing every bit of dialogue between arias.)

Anyway, after killing his wife and her lover in a play within a play setting, the tragic clown looks out at the audience in anguish and says, "La commedia e finita!" The comedy is over. Oh, speak to me some more, Pagliacci. Don't you just love that? Awesome, awesome. Or as Mr. Oliver would say, "Literally beautiful!"

Sometimes breaking the rules makes things better. I wish I could do the stream of consciousness thing like Faulkner. I absolutely love The Sound and the Fury. It's one of my favorite books. Wish I had the guts to throw the rules out the window and create something revolutionary. I also wish that I could use description as a literary tool like Dickens, even though it's frowned upon today. Prologues, epilogues, adverbs. I'd do them all.

As Pagliacchi would say, "La norme e finita!" The rules are over.

Which ones would you break?


  1. Yay for your amazing son!! He sounds fabulous and makes for a better Jamie Oliver! LOL!!!

    Oh I can't break writerly rules as I'm too untalented to pull any off with such panache!!!

    But good luck to anyone able to do so!! And yay for you!! Take care

  2. I've been thinking a LOT lately about breaking the rules. I write such staid (albeit delightful) books, but unfortunatley staid. I think I need to break out of my comfort zone.

    Zombie brains in my riggatoni perhaps?

  3. Oh what a great post! I would love to see that exchange between you and your son. :) Nothing like a good Jamie Oliver impression.

    And I think you should break the rules, I would tell you what rules I would break, but I'm still learning the rules right now! :)

    I guess I would break the prologue rule. WHat's wrong with a good prologue anyway? Have a great day Roxy. :) And the other day I got down to Provo to see the Carl Bloch exhibit. SImply amazing. I was awestruck and could not hold back the tears. It made me think of you and the great post you wrote about it.

  4. Not sure what rule I'm going to break today, but I will. I think I'll do something radical. Fun post!

  5. So crazy! I would want to act like a kid with no responsibilty for fun. :O)

  6. I loved this post! And you're a wonderful mama, always spending so much time w/your kiddos. :)

    Like you, I'd want to be Dickens, and use descreption as a tool. Description is my strong suite, but so often I have to pull back the reins and tone it down to be acceptable in today literary world. ;)

  7. This is going to sound very English-teacherish, but I'm always telling my students that you have to master the rules before you can bend them and experiment with them.

    Although, that's my advice for essay writing. Fiction isn't nearly so formal as an essay.

  8. That's great he has a sense of humor! Does he get it from you? :)

  9. I'd love to hear your son. I was laughing just from reading it.

    What rules would I break? I'm so busy trying not to break them.

    I made up a word in my manuscript. There are so few words to mean tough lightly. So I made up "wisped". Doesn't that work? I hope I can keep it.

  10. This is the definition of perfection. You managed to fit Italian food, Jamie Oliver, and opera all in one post. Literally beautiful.