Book Excerpts

A Love Beyond Grievance –

In fact, this particular heating tunnel had an illustrious history, according to Luigi Scarpa, whom we met in Alice’s office two days later. During the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, nineteen students died of the contagion, but the fierce winter made it impossible to dig graves from the icy ground. Their bodies were therefore stored in the heating tunnel until spring, when they could be properly buried. Luigi said the removal and burial proved grisly, because by spring the bodies had turned into beef jerky.

Removing the manhole cover, we made our descent into university history. My back pocket held a small stainless-steel chisel. As our flashlights cut sharp lines through the darkness, we crept through the low-ceilinged tunnel. Casting a beam on the walls, I could see where graffiti, for no good reason that I could fathom, had been covered with paint. We did, however, come to one place in which the graffiti had been left intact. It prophetically read: “The earth said no to all those lying here; / No better reason for us all to fear.”

Berlin Revisited

The opening day of the trial, I found a seat at the back of the crowded courtroom. Listening to the appalling charges, I wept for the victims of her treachery. I knew that she had worked for the Deutsches Reich, a decision that led to my parents separating and to my mother lodging me, aged sixteen, with Walter Fertig, a kindly gentleman who kept rooms at 45 Schlüterstraße, a five-story building that housed artists and professional people, and where I first met Gemma Rosselli.

Rowing to Ithaca –

In short, he took up rowing not because he could feel its pull coursing in his blood, though he did admire the beauty of the sport, but because of Yuri. If that Soviet stooge wished to ingratiate himself with Marta and worm his way into her affections through sculling, well, Marc had an equally strong back and legs. The sooner he fashioned his hands and legs and body into those of a sculler, the better. He knew from a thousand hours on basketball courts that when a guy showed up with new moves, one had to learn and execute them even better than their owner. He would, by God, over-master Yuri!