I didn't go to Venice of my own accord. I was sent there, forced to go, by that . . . that woman, she who has worshippers throughout the world, she who, despite a corrupt and failing body, limitless greed, and the personality of a broom, has - still, after all these years - the voice of an angel. It isn't surprising that she has power over me. Why shouldn't she? Even after a big meal, and I mean a big meal, she can walk onto a floodlit stage, stare into darkness and blinding glare, and then, with inimitable self-possession, make thousands weep. That all her gifts have been so concentrated is a miracle, and though she has no talent or virtue but this, it's more than enough.
- From "Il Colore Ritrovato" in The Pacific, a collection of short stories by Mark Helprin