Monday, August 06, 2007

No Sex in the City

What an Italian Man Thinks of American Women

Read No Sex in the City to unearth what happens when an Italian uomo courts the ladies of New York

by Francesca Di Meglio

Want to get inside the Italian man's head? Well, I've got the book for you. No Sex in the City (Cairo Publishing, 2006) by Mauro Suttora turns the tables on the American television show Sex in the City, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie, who - along with her three best girlfriends - searched for love in New York City. Instead, Suttora recounts how he, an Italian man separated from his wife, moves to New York City to work as a journalist - and attract Sex in the City-type women.

He spills everything - from the despicable to the dolce - in his 206-page work. If you can read and understand Italian, No Sex in the City can give you insight into the Italian man's psyche. But be warned: you won't like everything you read, especially ifyou're a woman from New York.

Having lived just about all of my life right over the bridge from Manhattan in New Jersey, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this book as soon as I read about it in Italy's version of Marie Claire last fall. However, my hopes for gushy tales of an Italian Mr. Big were dashed almost immediately.

Scorned by a lover from New York who dumped him via e-mail, Suttora spends the first few chapters bouncing from one woman to another rarely rounding second base and griping about being sexless in the city. Many of the women had lots of money, mostly thanks to their daddy, and most of them seemed too young for the fortysomething author. He recounts that he had actually met one of the women at an event I happened to attend - a concert Andrea Bocelli hosted for VIPs and journalists at the American Museum of Natural History. I never met the author but enjoyed the six degrees of separation.

Other than that, while reading the early parts of the book, I was completely turned off by Suttora because he didn't seem to think that fidelity in marriage was at all important. Pursuing a flirtatious wife of a diplomat seemed perfectly fine to him. I might have thrown my book across the room once or twice during that chapter. This might be why Italian men have a reputation as philanderers.

Suttora redeemed himself when he met Marsha and settled down with one woman, who he said he loved. He even seemed to give serious thought to marrying her and starting a family. And Marsha's very rich parents, especially her father, adored Suttora. But when Marsha insists on keeping her plans for a girls night out instead of staying with Suttora, he invites another woman to dinner. One thing leads to another, and he's unfaithful with this friend of a friend who he never sees again. First, however, he fantasizes about marrying this one-night stand and living off her money. It sounds like Suttora is turning into one of the women on Sex in the City.

Obviously, this act of infidelity is the beginning of the end for Marsha and him. The end end arrived, I think, because he was not willing to commit to her. He thought she just wanted to get married because marriage - replete with a giant rock of an engagement ring and a ridiculously expensive party - is part of the Manhattan culture. He may have a point here. Weddings certainly are big business in New York, and sometimes even the best women can get swept up in the hoopla. But we don't get Marsha's side of the story, so I don't want to be quick to judge. I know plenty of women in New York who want to marry for love and desire creating a family and home. For them, the wedding is just the beginning of something much bigger.

Accusations that none of the women Suttora met would cook are unfounded. I know plenty of foodies in Manhattan who love to host dinner parties (and cook everything themselves). Some of them even prepare family dinners during the week. Plenty of the bridges and tunnels girls - those of us from New Jersey, Brooklyn, and the Bronx - do just that. I think he was just hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Suttora seemed annoyed that when American women make the time to cook for their loved ones they want some gratitude. Here's a shocker, Mauro, Italian women I know wouldn't mind a thank you once in a while for all the things they do for you - from cooking to cleaning. Give it a try. You'll catch more queen bees with honey, I guarantee it. I know enough Italian women to understand that they are not much different from their New York sisters in this regard; they've just been living in patriarchy so long that they don't bother saying anything about it anymore. In the end, everyone just wants to be appreciated, especially by the ones they love most. That goes for men, too.

Normally, I wouldn't be this judgmental but I feel Suttora's judgmental tone gives me free reign. Like his female American counterparts in Sex in the City Suttora ran with crowds that provide only sex and no love, superficiality over substance, money and power over friendship and loyalty. Sometimes, we continuously seek the wrong kind of people (or flit from one social event to another) because we're simply not ready for the real thing. We don't really want any of these stories to work out. Our own fears and insecurities prevent us from falling in love. It happens to the best of us. Or maybe Suttora just wanted fodder for a book. Ponder that.

Despite his many flaws, Suttora is still an Italian man with charm and verve and wit. You, playing his favorite songs (which he relates to many of his experiences throughout the book) in your head, find yourself engaged in this snip it of his life. He has great taste to boot (Battisti is one of his favorites). And sometimes, he made me laugh out loud at his observations of the American people.

Much like Carrie and company, he left me wanting to know how his love life works out in the end. I'm waiting for the sequel, Lots of Sex in the City. I just hope, for his sake, it's with one kind, loving woman. Now that's a book I won't ever have to throw across the room!

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