Did you ever see the old Sinbad movies? Maybe the one with the young Jane Seymour? The ones with the Ray Harry...moreDisclaimer: Copy received via Netgalley
Did you ever see the old Sinbad movies? Maybe the one with the young Jane Seymour? The ones with the Ray Harryhausen special effects? Was it your first introduction to the Arabian Nights too? Did the actual tales with the frame story of sex and violence come as something as a surprise?
Well, Mr. Toppi follows the tradition of the original stories and not the movies.
And boy, is it something.
I had never heard of Sergio Toppi before seeing this book posted up on Netgalley. I picked it up simply because of the subject matter. Therefore, I do not know how this work fits into his oeuvre.
First, I would like to say something about the artwork. Mr. Simonson in his foreword notes that Toppi made excellent use of space as well as black and white. This is true. The copy I received via Netgalley, downloaded and read on computer, includes two tales that are done in color. The majority of the book is in down in black and white. The black and white illustrations are better than those that have been colored. The black and white drawings pull the reader in far more than those that have been colored. I do not know what the scheme in terms of color is for the final edition. But the black and white is stunning. The loneness of an exile is far more stabbing and heart rending in stark terms than in the washed out color. I hope the color is either just in the two stories or taken out all together in the hardcover version. (For parents, the artwork does have some topless women).
In short, Toppi’s artwork = WOW!
Sharaz-De (Sherazade) tells stories to save her life. The frame story of Arabian Nights not only shows the reader the sharp intelligence of a young woman, but also the power of story-telling to shape what is around us. Toppi keeps true to this idea. The stories are chosen to reflect on the situation that Sharaz-De finds herself in. They are not so much stories of passionate love, though passionate love is there, but stories about mercy and justice. It is hard not to see Sharaz-De herself in the character of the falcon who saves his prince or in the dwarf that demands a just payment or in the dijinn who falls in love with mercy.
It is that choice of stories and the stunning artwork that make this a joy to read. Toppi keeps to the frame story and the reader becomes part of that frame. Using the storytelling technique of repetition, Toppi makes the reader part of the danger that Sharaz-De faces; the reader becomes the judge as well as Sharaz-De’s husband. At the same time, however, the reader is Sharaz-De, standing on the edge of that sword. It’s brilliant. The reader is lost in one story, finds the way out, and then is lost once more in Sharaz-De’s own predicament.
I once knew someone who taught Arabic. He once said that the best translation of Arabian Nights was the Burton work. I don’t know Arabic, so I can’t speak for the accuracy of translation. What I do know, however, is that Toppi’s retelling is the most engrossing version of Arabian Nights I have seen.
And that includes the mini-series that had Rufus Sewell in it. (less)
To get to Rungstedlund from Copenhagen, one takes a train. One walks from the station, past a farm that seems bred Norwegian Fjords, past a restaurant...moreTo get to Rungstedlund from Copenhagen, one takes a train. One walks from the station, past a farm that seems bred Norwegian Fjords, past a restaurant, to the harbor, where ones turns left. Shortly thereafter, you are at the home of Isak Dinesen. It is a white house surrounded by green. It seems to exist in its own world. When I was there, it wasn’t very crowded, and most of the visitors were older, causing me to wonder if they were coming because of the books or because of the movie with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. After a tour of the house, one can visit Dinesen’s grave. It is set back, along a short path. It rests in a bird sanctuary. There is a stunning beauty and peacefulness about the whole plot of land. Plain on the outside but surrounding underneath. Layered, like Russian nesting dolls with the exception that the smaller ones, the ones buried deep inside, are more beautiful colored. It is a fitting home for Dinesen. It matches her fiction exactly.
For many people, Dinesen’s best work is Seven Gothic Tales or Out of Africa, but for me her best tale collection is Last Tales. This is because it contains the first short story I ever read by Dinesen, “The Cloak”, a story that I fell in love with, that made me hunt down Dinesen’s work.
In some ways, “The Cloak” is like Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger?”. The answer to the key question, the question that reader will ask is left unspoken, unanswered. It is left up to the reader, and the reader’s answer says more about the reader than about the writer, like Stockton’s short story. “The Cloak” is actually the start of a trilogy of stories that deal with the redemption and life of a man called Angelo. The three stories deal with the power of the human soul as well as the power faith. All the stories are haunting and touching. They deal with the soul.
Most of the stories in this collection focus on the aspects of faith and art that coincide, that ran in tandem. This is true from the first story of the collection, “The Cardinal’s First Tale”, which is about an artist who is also a priest. It also is about masks, and who we really are inside.
Then there is “The Blank Page” a wonderful story, very much like “Sorrow Acre” from Winter Tales. In this tale, Dinesen plays with the idea of the bloody bridal sheet as well as how stories become stories and story tellers become story tellers. It is a quiet tale.
“The Caryatids: An Unfinished Gothic Tale” discusses the price of knowledge, the cost of hidden knowledge, and the cost of knowledge that we hid from ourselves. It is a strange, effecting story. Gothic in tone, but human in its ending. As is the story that follows it, “Echoes”. This story is about a singer who has lost her voice, but finds it again.
“A Country Tale” deal with redemption in the sense of justice. What is justice? Can revenge go too far? Slightly similar in vein is “Copenhagen Season”, a dual plotted love story that shows understanding of the human heart, and the consequences that can come.
All the stories in this collection deal with forgiveness, whether it is an ability to forgive someone or an inability to forgiven oneself. All the souls deal with the effect of secrets upon the soul. All the stories deal with art and soul, how faith and art can be one.(less)
If I call this excellent book the Italian response to the Vagina Monologues, will that give you the wrong idea?
Perhaps in terms of structure, a reader could say it is derivative of the Monologues, but that would be insulting to both. Dandini’s book presents short stories (basically monologues) told by women who were killed simply because they were women (femicide). While the stories lean toward more Italian based, there is a nice range from abusive lovers or husbands to honor to abortion.
Yes abortion, but considering the gender preference that is occurring in some countries, abortion because the fetus is female should be included here. (Incidentally, I have no idea what Dandini feels about abortion. The monologue that deals with abortion is not anti-abortion in general, just anti-abortion because the fetus is female. Pro-choice people will not feel like they are being lectured too. I didn’t).
While the structure of the book lends itself to performance, its primary focus simply seems to be simply to raise awareness. The stories are short, but all are based on real crimes or issues. Some undoubtedly only known in the various areas, but a few will be easily recognized by the well informed reader. Each story is told by the victim, not all of which are sweet, and most of the voices are individualized.
The last few chapters of the book present general facts that deal with the various femicides described. There is a section about gender preference, a section about honor killings and so on. The book ends with a list of countries that have legislation that is pro-woman (like Sweden’s laws about prostitution). The stories and then the facts make the book suitable for use in a classroom, be it a women’s studies course or a theatre course. While the crimes are murder, most of the stories do not have an excess of gory description making the book suitable for high school students.
It really is a good companion, sister, to the Vagina Monologues.
So this building was completed under budgeted cost – wonder if that was the first and last time. Nice and short little guide....moreCrossposted at Booklikes.
So this building was completed under budgeted cost – wonder if that was the first and last time. Nice and short little guide. Focus is on the art work and is mostly general description. Useful guide in touring the building.(less)
I first learned about the Tasmanian Tiger (or Wolf) when I read The Guinness book of Animals. It sounds very...moreDisclaimer: Recieved a copy via netgalley.
I first learned about the Tasmanian Tiger (or Wolf) when I read The Guinness book of Animals. It sounds very cool. Wolf-like but with markings resembling a tiger, it is a marsupial. I got to the end of the entry and read those heart-breaking words –“believed extinct”. Oh, the hope in that word believed. You have no idea how long I lived in denial land after reading that. I still, in my weaker moments, liked to believe that a lost colony of them will be found (I told you, denial land. You know the place where Jude Law turns into a marriageable man and proposes to me. Now tell, which one is more likely? The survival of the Tasmanian Tiger or Law no longer being a philandering nurse tupper?) Even today, when I go to the Natural History Museum in DC, I still get a small thrill from looking at the specimen on display. The only time I ever feel some like it is when I go to the National Zoo and catch site of the Maned Wolf. I’m the crazy chick who says, “Look, you can see their ears!” Ellis’ book, written and first published in 2004, deals with extinction, extinction that has occurred and that might occur. In short, this means it is not happy reading, though it is written for the non-scientist. Yet, despite the heaviness of its subject matter, it should be required reading for those who inhabit the earth. Ellis does look at the most famous extinctions – dinosaurs and dodoes. He takes a close look at the “debate” surrounding the extinction of the super-sized reptiles. He doesn’t seem to take a side and presents the information in such a way that any non-scientist person (like idiot me) can follow it. Honestly, if I had Ellis talking to me about dinosaurs, I would’ve found them far more interesting. The bulk of the book, however, is on the extinctions that have been hastened or totally caused by humans. The dodo does get mentioned, but the focus is on lesser known animals. He deals with birds, mammals, and, of course, ocean life. Not only does the reader hear the stories of the well-known condors but also of the lesser well known, like the Saiga (a deer with a large nose) or Chiru. More importantly, Ellis looks at the various factors that contribute to the extinction or the species being threatened. He goes beyond the “no hunting! No Chinese medicine!” chants. For instance, I knew about rhino horn being used in Asia for supposed medicinal benefits [Ellis points out that there is actually a foundation for this story, and points out that it is only rhino horn that has the benefit and that Advil would work better], but I didn’t know that some rhino horn (primary white and black) were in demand as the hilts for weapons, in particular in the Middle East. And it isn’t just using horns and animals as food and art supplies, it is also diseases that can harm animals, such as West Nile and its effects on Whooping Cranes. Being Green is in today, but in many ways we don’t fully realize the impact that we have beyond the obvious ones. It is important to read this book because every child has that animal, that one real animal that sparks their interest in the species – be it tiger, lion, or bear. Wouldn’t it be horrible, if after having that interest sparked, the child discovered that the animal had been killed for medicine, art, or stupidity?
This another of those books that I read the cover off of, though it's not held together by rubber bands, yet. Every single animal novel (fable) publis...moreThis another of those books that I read the cover off of, though it's not held together by rubber bands, yet. Every single animal novel (fable) published after Watership Down is held up to its standard, and most are found wanting. What really sells this book is Adams' wonderful use of language. There is such power in some of his sentences, especially in the rabbit folk tales sections. (less)
What is it with you and threatening women with death during your wedding? Do you think it is romantic?
Dear Wife of Bath,
You go girl!
Foxes like chickens in all the wrong ways. Just saying.
Dear Mr. Ackroyd, World's Greatest Renassiance Man,
I've read Chaucer in the orignal both Tales and Trolius. I've tried to read various modern translations.
Tried being the operative word.
Yours, I finished. It's wonderful.
In part, this must due to the fact that you are a poet. You keep the poetry of the tales, but since you write in prose, the forced rhymes of translation are non-existent.
But most of it is because you kept Chaucer dirty. You didn't try to clean him up as some other translations do. Therefore we have the line about Alison (in "The Miller's Tale") - She was meant to be f**ked by a prince and wedded to a yeoman. We know precisely what Chaucer means by that. You keep all the dirty words, all the dirty stories. In bringing Chaucer back to the earth, back to the mud, you have re-established his position among the stars for those who do not read Middle English.
The Tales is a group of stories mostly about sex and power between couples. Okay, there are other bits thrown in, but its mainly sex.
And Farting. There is lots of farting.
Little romance though. In fact, the Knight's Tale which should be the most romantic is the most sterile, perhaps Terry Jones has a point about the Knight.(less)
If you haven't been to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., you should go. The museum is currently the youngest Smithsonian....moreIf you haven't been to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., you should go. The museum is currently the youngest Smithsonian. While the Museum does not yet have the massive amount of stuff as the Natural History, National Gallery, or National History museum, this works to the benefit of the vistor because you actually learn something. Additionally, the building itself is stunning, it has the best food of any of the museum, and the gift shop actually presents intelligent things not just kiddie stuff and t-shirts.
This book is a companion book to the museum's collection of horse related items. It should be noted that the book is not a history of the horse in various Native American cultures; however, as an introduction to the museum's collection and to the place of horse in general, the book is well worth the price. The book is not busy, transmits infromation well, and relates some exciting stories/histories, including a story of counting coup in World War II. In addition to the essays and stories, there are traditional horse related songs and original poetry, including a work by Sherman Alexie as well as a beautiful poem written upon the birth of a daugther.(less)
This edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out story...moreThis edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out story takes place during WW I. (less)
In this book I learned several rather disgusting things about animals.
1. There are remote controlled cockroaches. 2. A spider doesn't have a penis. 3. S...moreIn this book I learned several rather disgusting things about animals.
1. There are remote controlled cockroaches. 2. A spider doesn't have a penis. 3. Squirrels are smarter than they look. 4. So are sheep. 5. There is a reason cats don't like water. 6. Dogs are smarter than cats. 7. A female fossa has a fake penis. 8. The animal world seems to hover around poo. 9. A spider bites off its not penis. 10. The Russians didn't do a good job of training dogs to blow up tanks. 11. Harpy Eagles are awesome.
This is a wonderful interview of Katharine Hepburn, not so much because of the material it covers, but...moreI love Bringing Up Baby. Really, really love it.
This is a wonderful interview of Katharine Hepburn, not so much because of the material it covers, but because Mr. Worrall captures her so well. Well worth the read. I'm extemely glad I read it. Thank you, Mr. Worrall.(less)
This short play is about the death of Marlowe. To say much more than that would be to spoil it. It is well acted (with a Burn Gorman of Torchwood) and...moreThis short play is about the death of Marlowe. To say much more than that would be to spoil it. It is well acted (with a Burn Gorman of Torchwood) and compelling.