Yes, this is Goldman of The Princess Bride fame, and not surprisingly, this is another fable by S. Morgenstern. (I once listened to a very intense discussion at a family dinner over whether The Princess Bride was written by William Goldman or S. Morgenstern. Awesome.) It’s told with the same casual narration, but as I haven’t read The Princess Bride in a good number of years, I won’t compare the two books any further than that. Just to be safe.
The Silent Gondoliers explains why the gondoliers of Venice, who were once renowned for their beautiful voices, no longer sing for their passengers. It’s because of Luigi: a masterful gondolier but a horrendous singer, who must give up his gondola, his fiancé, and his dream because of his voice, which causes severe pain in everyone within earshot. Goldman (or, should I say, Morgenstern) does a wonderful job of lightheartedly conveying the tragedy of Luigi’s situation, and of his later triumph – a deed for which the other gondoliers voluntarily sing as horrendously as Luigi does.
There are some books that I read and can hardly focus on the story because the writing is so mediocre (or miserable). Others I sail through joyfully because the writing is so exquisite. Still others I sail through and don’t notice the writing much at all, because it’s decent quality and does what it’s supposed to: tell the story. The Silent Gondoliers falls into this third category. I didn’t celebrate the writing, but I enjoyed the story. I longed to travel to Venice and ride on a gondola. I felt the bitter pangs of Luigi’s suffering. I laughed when Goldman (Morgenstern) wanted me to. Basically, I had fun.
Tweet: Read another of S. Morgenstern’s fables in the enjoyable (albeit short) The Silent Gondoliers. Then buy a ticket to Venice.