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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Pizzaria Antica da Michelle

   
Author Topic: Pizzaria Antica da Michelle
deebum25
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I submitted this previously and truly appreciated the honest and respectful feedback that I received. I hope I have applied your suggestions and would appreciate any further criticisms. It does still involve pizza!

The ancient Italian city of Naples is famous for two things: pizza and crime. Eager to experience the former and avoid the latter, I tucked my bag securely under my arm and headed directly to Naples' most famous and oldest pizzeria, Antica Pizzaria da Michelle, for lunch. Pizza makers since 1870 the Condurro family have been making only two kinds of pies: margherita with buffalo mozzarella, basil and San Marzano tomatoes, and marinara with tomatoes, oregano, garlic and olive oil. Since they first opened their doors over a century ago it has been their credo that their simply made pies are superior due to the clean flavors of their few ingredients.

It was 11:45 but the twelve or so tables in the one open dining room were all already occupied when I arrived and was genially

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited November 14, 2008).]


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ArachneWeave
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This sounds fun, but there is a definite adverb issue. It's not a very clean, understandable opening, which makes me worry your interesting premise is going to be buried in wandering syntax.

Here are my suggestions, cuts marked [] and additions with * *

***

[] Naples *the ancient? {that idea still good}* is famous for two things: pizza and crime. Eager to experience the former and avoid the latter, I [] *clutched my bag* and headed [] *for* Naples' [] oldest pizzeria, Antica Pizzaria da Michelle[]. []Since 1870 the Condurro family have been making only two kinds of pies: margherita with buffalo mozzarella, basil and San Marzano tomatoes, and marinara with tomatoes, oregano, garlic and olive oil. Since they first opened their doors over a century ago[comma] it has been their credo that their []pies are superior for their simple ingredients.

It was 11:45 but the twelve or so tables in the one open dining room were all []occupied when I arrived [period] *I* [] was []


{The essence is still here. That the MC is going for lunch is made obvious by the time later on. The claim of superiority is made stronger for the *sentence* being as simple as the *pies*. The less cluttered the intro is, the better we can get to the meat of whatever comes next.}


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jaycloomis
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i like it. makes me hungry
i'd read on

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TaleSpinner
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It's much better than the previous version, deebum25.

First, with four adverbs I'm not sure that there's a "definite" adverb issue, and I think ArachneWeave's suggestions take colour from the piece and in some places change its meaning. For example, there's a Naples in Florida as well, so "The ancient Italian city of Naples" makes sense. "I tucked my bag securely under my arm and headed directly to ..." sounds like someone with purpose and careful of street crime, while "clutched my bag and headed" sounds more fearful.

While it's true that the general advice for fiction writers is to avoid adverbs and adjectives, there's no rule that says they can't be used; it's a matter of taste how much you salt and pepper your prose with them--and for the magazine market, which I assume is where this piece is headed, I'm not sure the advice even holds.

It's still a bit factual and lacking in atmosphere, for me. I'd add some smells and colours and movement--my impression of Italian places is they're full of voluble, animated people.

"For lunch" sounds a bit lame--how about instead telling us here why it's so important to visit the restaurant and to tell us this story? And this sentence, like some of the others, is rather long I think.

"famous and oldest"--I think you could drop famous since the oldest place in a city is always famed.

"since 1870" and "Since they first opened their doors over a century ago" tell us pretty much the same thing, and the two sinces sound repetitive.

I found the lists of ingredients tedious, and stumbled because I could not tell where one list stopped and the second started--and do the Italians call it "buffalo mozzarella"?--seems odd to name it after a North American animal they would not have seen much of around 1870. Maybe instead feed some of them in as smells--surely you can smell the basil and garlic half a mile away?!--and the others later as textures, colours or tastes.

That last sentence should be split, I think, as ArachneWeave suggests, because the genial welcome is a different thought from the place being occupied.

Hope this helps,
Pat


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tchernabyelo
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Buffalo mozzarella is technically corect, as it should be made from the milk of the water buffalo - the American animal is properly a bison. However, IIRC, in Italy no-one would really call something "mozarella" unless it really was buffalo's milk, so it may be a tautology.

Is this a story, or a non-fiction article? It reads fine if it's the latter. If it's the former, then all I've got is backstory, and no hook, no character, no plot, and (I'm sorry) no interest.


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TaleSpinner
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Wups, sorry, you're absolutely right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozzarella_di_Bufala_Campana

Thanks for the corrction, tchernabyelo--and when this was posted the first time around, deebum25 said it was a non-fiction piece.

Cheers,
Pat


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deebum25
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Thanks everybody! Your suggestions have made this a much stronger piece. And adverbs are no longer my friends.
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KPKilburn
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I lived in Naples, Italy for three years, so this piece caught my eye. I'm coming in a little late, so I can't offer much in terms of criticism, but I will say that unless you've been to Naples, you just haven't seen Italy. It's definitely not a "tourist town"!

One note now that I think about it, I think it could add to the piece to actually call it mozzarella di bufala. Even though you're not using the Italian name for every ingredient, I think it's appropriate here. Of course, I've lived there, so it may not ring as familiar with others.

[This message has been edited by KPKilburn (edited November 22, 2008).]


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deebum25
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KP be my friend

I loved Naples in the short time that we spent there (four days) and you are correct for the tourist it is not. We stayed at Piazza Garibaldi at Hotel Eden and you know what a madhouse that is. I've had other folks tell me that they were mugged and robbed staying in Naples overnight! Well I'll keep my opinions about that on the DL but I absolutely adored the city and Spaccanapoli with which I'm sure you're familiar. Thanks for the added mozzarella vernacular, I do appreciate it. It's never too late!


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KPKilburn
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deebum25,

I was in a hurry when I first read this, but I wanted to come back to it and offer my two cents if that's OK...

***

First, as I mentioned before, I'm interested simply because I lived in Naples and would like to see where this is headed.

Second, not to ask you to rewrite your piece, but here are some recommendations...

>>Perhaps refer to Naples as "Bella Napoli" (beautiful Naples)? I've heard the term many times, usually pejoratively though :-) Not sure it would be evident to readers?

For example (most of what follows violates the whole 13 lines thing, but...)

Bella Napoli. Buried deep in Italy's Campania region, Naples is typically known for two things -- pizza and crime. Perhaps it's the latter that gives Naples the reputation as "the armpit of Italy", but I cared little about that. I was eager to experience "pizza vera" - real pizza - so, despite any initial reservations I may have had, I tucked my bag under my arm...

#

...two kinds of pies: margherita with buffalo mozzarella, basil and San Marzano tomatoes, and marinara with tomatoes, oregano, garlic and olive oil. Since they first opened their doors over a century ago it has been their credo that their simply made pies are superior due to the clean flavors of their few ingredients.

>>Perhaps make this a little more "action" oriented and maybe capitalize the names of the types to make it clearer? (ignore the cliched example :-)

"Margherita" the chef yelled as he tossed a ball of pizza dough onto the counter and began slapping it flat, obviously putting on a show for the tourists. The fire cackled from the pizza oven just a few meters away and I smelled the scent of fresh wood burning, mozzarella di buffala cheese and tomato sauce... blah blah blah

#

It was 11:45 but the twelve or so tables in the one open dining room were all already occupied when I arrived and was genially

>>Maybe make it less precise to reflect the atmosphere? "It was not even midday, but the famished tourists had already stolen the best tables...

>>I didn't see the original piece, but this is interesting. I think the "hook" would be something that succinctly captures the experience of the pizzeria in the First 13 -- the wood burning oven's smell and sound (and heat if you're too close!), the seemingly endless barrage of "foreign" language (quite captivating in it's own right, even if you don't know what they're saying), etc.

You can add the details of the history afterwards, but try to capture that initial feel that you get when you enter the place. It's quite unlike anything anywhere else in the world (at least in the US where I'm from -- I spent years trying to find a place that had a wood-burning pizza oven, but had to give up).

Just my opinions.

Ciao.


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