Published in 1902. Belloc, like Patrick Leigh Fermor and a few other daring souls, decided to walk across Europe and his journey to Rome over the AlpsPublished in 1902. Belloc, like Patrick Leigh Fermor and a few other daring souls, decided to walk across Europe and his journey to Rome over the Alps is amazing. His account of hiking up a misty mountain near Interlaken and, when the clouds parted, realized that the path had ended and he was on a precipice just about to step out over a drop of thousands of feet into the lake below, is stunning. He vividly describes the mountains, vistas and his fellow travelers make this one of my favorite travel books....more
When we lived in DC for a few months we heard of this amazing museum of miniatures, open by appointment only, in the Office of the Medical Examiner inWhen we lived in DC for a few months we heard of this amazing museum of miniatures, open by appointment only, in the Office of the Medical Examiner in the murder capital of the U.S., Baltimore. David Byrne had mentioned it as one of his 10 favorite things in his hometown of Baltimore and when we went, with a special appointment weeks in advance, his name was just three before ours in the guestbook. The 25 or so diaoramas were made in exacting miniature by a Mother Jones looking bespectacled grandmotherly woman, a forensic scientist at Harvard. She even knit nylon stockings with thread like spider webs on two straight pins for several of them, and each is a scene of a murder, with all the clues scattered across the perfectly rendered 1940s noir-esque environment. And as an act of absolute love of her field, two of the dioramas were arson scenes so after making them with such care, she burned them as carefully, leaving the clues about for her students to decipher. The dioramas languished in a closet at Harvard before Baltimore purchased them and began using them for international conferences on forensics they host annually. The rooms were installed, with the help of a team of conservators from the Baltimore Museum---armed with tiny vacuum cleaners and dusters---in glassed-in cases in a small room adjoining the Med Examiners office. When we were there, back in 2002, I hoped someone would photograph them, as so many people would enjoy seeing them. Each room had a placard with the bare facts that the police were given, and viewers were challenged to solve the crimes based on the visible evidence they could see. What a rare combination of precision and care up against malevolence and sadness. The photographer who produced this book expertly captures all of it, and I highly recommend it to artists and anyone interested in mysteries and crime....more
Solitudes by Goffredo Parise was published in the 1980s and infused with Parise's cinematic mode of writing, capturing small details which give each sSolitudes by Goffredo Parise was published in the 1980s and infused with Parise's cinematic mode of writing, capturing small details which give each scene and story a vivid undercurrent.
Here's a description of a young 13 yr old boy being led from the train station to a Hotel by his friend's father (who later turned out to be a Facist) during a WWII blackout , where all lamps and flashlights (torches) had to have a cover to mute the light:
"(the man) smiled at the boy from above, tucked a malacca cane under his crooked arm and gave a quick Roman salute, a kind of elegant political hello, then tapped him lightly on the head. The boy couldn't see the town, couldn't see the street, couldn't see anything: the blackout seemed even stricter and denser than it was at home, in town. So, as they walked, he clutched the long fur coat of his companion, who ploughed securely through the melted snow in spite of his very shiny, thin, patent leather shoes. From time to time he took a small torch from his pocket, its glass front painted in white, red and green, and directed its tiny, three-coloured strip of light on the ground in front of their feet, onto the dirty snow."...more
Three short novellas, each told with a quiet, masterful voice. An Obscure Man tells of the life of a 17th century Dutchman, with a compelling attentioThree short novellas, each told with a quiet, masterful voice. An Obscure Man tells of the life of a 17th century Dutchman, with a compelling attention to detail and a perfect counterpart to Marta Morazzoni's Girl In A Turban....more
One of the most amazing re-created historic events between the poets Kleist and Gunderrode at a Weimar estate. In a dialogue on the difficulties of liOne of the most amazing re-created historic events between the poets Kleist and Gunderrode at a Weimar estate. In a dialogue on the difficulties of life between two co-equals, without the underlying sexual motifs, you find an extraordinary moment of confession and self-reckoning. Kleist would kill himself within a year of the imaginary conversation, Gunderrode a while after that, both were too vulnerable to the agonies of the soul which both propelled them and their work and haunted them to their separate deaths....more
My favorite of de Beauvoir's books: the story of 5 women friends, with each chapter telling the same situation from each woman's point of view. A liteMy favorite of de Beauvoir's books: the story of 5 women friends, with each chapter telling the same situation from each woman's point of view. A literary trick popular at the time, but in this case one of de Beauvoir's most insightful take on contemporary French life at mid-last century....more