A magnificent journey inside the world of a Sicilian fishing community and its thousand-year-old rituals
Every spring for untold centuries, great schools of giant bluefin tuna have swum through the Strait of Gibraltar to spawn in the Mediterranean Sea. And there, for untold centuries, men have been waiting for them. In this stunning debut, Theresa Maggio brings us inside the insular world of the tonnara-the ritual trapping and killing of bluefin enacted by fishermen since the Stone Age. In a single, bloody spectacle-called the mattanza-the fishermen harvest the bluefin, lifting them by hand from the Chamber of Death, the last room in an elaborate trap.
Theresa Maggio witnessed her first mattanza on Favignana, a butterfly-shaped island off the coast of Sicily. Brought to the island by a fisherman who was in love with her, Maggio in turn fell in love with Favignana, with its white magic and stonework, its anchors and nets. Penetrating this exotic, all-male world as no woman has before her, Maggio documents a dark and beautiful ritual that might soon disappear-a casualty of the modern fishing industry. Part memoir, part natural history, part travelogue, Mattanza is a riveting narrative of one woman's journey into another world, a world where moon lemons grow wild, and where the sea holds the promise of renewal.
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A mattanza, in Italian, is a slaughter--in the instance Theresa Maggio relates, a springtime slaughter of bluefin tuna, the fish highly prized by sports fishermen and gourmands. In these elegant pages, Maggio describes the hard lives of Sicilian fishermen who chase the bluefin, reenacting a hunt that extends far back into prehistory and whose rituals, including that ceremonial massacre, have gone essentially unchanged for thousands of years.
Maggio, a former science writer at the Los Alamos National Scientific Laboratory, first traveled to her ancestral island in her early 30s. On the rocky coast of Favignana she witnessed her first mattanza, an unexpected "font of primal energy, beauty, and suffering, all in a tiny square of sea." After observing the coordinated efforts of the fishermen, who battled to drive the three-quarter-ton fish into a carefully constructed maze of net traps, Maggio came to develop an appreciation for the hunt in Sicilian village life. It is a ritual as laden with meaning as the buffalo hunt in Plains Indian cultures.
Maggio's memoir of life, death, and hard work in a dangerous sea joins with Peter Matthiessen's Men's Lives as a thoughtful study in human ecology. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Theresa Maggio, the granddaughter of Sicilian immigrants, grew up in the New Jersey Meadowlands. After college she hitchhiked coast-to-coast alone three times. She finally settled down in Vermont in 1975, and made laser optics there until she was recruited by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Since the early 1990s, she has worked as a free-lance travel writer. Her work has appeared frequently in the New York Times as well as the Financial Times, London Daily Telegraph, New York Daily News, and Miami Herald, among other publications.
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Descrizione libro Counterpoint, 2000. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 073820269X
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