jueves, 23 de junio de 2011

Blood Washes Blood by Frank Viviano

It’s ironic that a self-confessed loner like Frank Viviano should have become so engrossed in his family history. We should be thankful that this wanderer came to ground in Sicily to research his great-great-grandfather’s death, because his account, Blood Washes Blood, presents a beautiful, informative, engaging and emotional journey.

Francesco Paolo Viviano, or Franky, was brought up in Detroit. He became a journalist, posted to many of the world’s most painful hotspots. There is much, but succinct reflection on these conflicts throughout Blood Washes Blood, an aspect that adds intellectual and emotional perspective to an otherwise private story. Blood Washes Blood came about as a result of a grandfather’s whispered comments when close to death. Grandfather Francesco Paolo Viviano described his own grandfather, yet another Francesco Paolo Viviano, otherwise known as the monk, saying that he had been murdered by a member of the Valenti family. And that was all he said. Grandson Franky never forgot this confession, however. So some years later he set off to Sicily to immerse himself in a search to uncover a family history.

What he discovered was no less than a family that lived the history of the Sicilian people. The phrase may sound strange, but a significant part of the argument of Blood Washes Blood – and it does have an argument – is the assertion that Sicilians are a nation apart, both separate from and often shunned by their Italian neighbours. It is the culture of that society – especially its need to resist, to assert its identity against the constant pressure of foreign domination – that gave rise to bandits, freedom fighters and, eventually, a mafia.

Frank Viviani details his arduous research to uncover the truth of his great-great-grandfather’s death and, in doing so, displays a journalist’s talent for accuracy, allusion, observation and not a little analysis. The author does eventually identify a plausible and documented series of events and, as a result of uncovering some quite breathtaking detail, realises that he, the loner, the wanderer, is nothing less than a lynchpin holding his family together, a peace-maker and peace treaty all in one body. Blood Washes Blood is a fascinating juxtaposition of family history, political history, journalism and biography. No doubt every family has its own story, and they are all worth telling.

No hay comentarios: