This book made me unreasonably angry, so here I am, entering the world of the Cannonball Read as an outraged reader.
I really wanted to love this book, because it’s about something about which I know nothing. But I wasn’t able to learn much. The narrative is completely scattered, and there are an astonishing number of tangents that are distracting and irritating. I mean, total non-sequitors. An example, “The story [of a prank pulled by Filippo Brunelleschi], known as “The Tale of the Fat Carpenter,” gained the status of legend in Florence and is related by Filippo’s biographer, Antonio Manetti. An example of a beffa, a cruel and humiliating trick, it is worthy of the pen of Boccaccio and anticipates the topsy-turvy dreamworld into which the characters are plunged in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Thenote that I took in the moment reads, “Honestly, is there any evidence that this story was known by Shakespeare? Why are we roping Shakespeare into this?” Yep, I was pissed.
Ultimately, this is more the story of how the dome at Santa Maria del Fiore is an architectural marvel than it is the story of the way a man’s genius changed the face of overall architecture. The dome is an incredible achievement, but totally an outlier. King notes on a number of occasions that the techniques that Brunelleschi employed are, at this point, totally theoretical; he recorded nothing because he was intensely paranoid about plagiarism. The techniques can’t have been repeated knowingly, and the size, structure, and shape of the dome have never been repeated. Frankly, King doesn’t even make much of an argument for Brunelleschi being a “genius,” and I don’t see much of it on my own, considering that he really only achieved this one (admittedly awesome) thing.
So, first book down. And hopefully soon forgotten.