Back in the early 1950s, as a lonely, pregnant young wife already ruing her rash elopement, Edna O'Brien sobbed through the ending of Flaubert's Madame Bovary and wondered, "Why could life not be lived at that same pitch? Why was it only in books that I could find the utter outlet for my emotions?"
To mangle a familiar quotation from Tolstoy, all regions of Italy are different, but each is Italian in its own particular way.
Suppose the Italian regions were women (humor me here). Lombardia would be a glamorous but unapproachable Milan model. I see Emiglia-Romagna as a wealthy, slightly dowdy widow. Umbria would be the wholesome, friendly girl next door. Unlike the American girl next door where I live, however, this one is a terrific cook.
On cable TV, there's a whole truckload of reality shows that make fun of working-class, white Southern culture. They are some of the most popular and talked about new shows, too, such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty.
MTV tried cashing in on the redneck TV trend with its own hyped-up platform for young Southern kids behaving badly, Buckwild. It played like a Southern-fried version of Jersey Shore. Its stars were a dimwitted crew of young people in West Virginia drinking hard and riding pickup trucks through ditches filled with mud.