26 October 2011

Book Review: Formosa Betrayed, by George Kerr, *****

Island of Tatan, off Quemoy with Nationalist flag
By way of background...

"Our experience in Formosa is most enlightening. The Administration of the former Governor Chen Yi has alienated the people from the Central Government. Many were forced to feel that conditions under autocratic rule [Japan's rule] were preferable.

25 October 2011

Recensione: Percorsi d'Amore, di Maurizio Cremasco, ****

Questa è una serie di poesie che trasmettono lo stato d'animo irrequieto dell'autore, uno scrittore che è stato pilota da caccia e politologo, si è appassionato di vini e cucina ed ha viaggiato per il mondo. Una fertile mente che affronta l'ultima fase della sua vita con l'entusiasmo di un aitante giovanotto. Nelle poesie traspare questo afflato ansioso, la voglia di vivere, l'energia che sprizza da tutti i pori...

15 October 2011

Book review: Coral Gardens, by Leni Riefenstahl, *****

Leni Riefenstahl was a great, if politically controversial, movie director, but only later in her life she picked up photography in a serious way. Her books on African tribes are justly famous.

14 October 2011

Book Review: A Little Book of Zen, *****

I bought this book some six years ago and it has found a permament home atop my writing desk ever since. I open it almost every day, usually on a random page, and almost always find someething that gives me reason to pause and think positively. Strongly recommended as dispenser of a daily pill of wisdom.

13 October 2011

Recensione: People from Ikea, di Andrea Pugliese, ***

Componendo a incastro questi tubi, ripiani, viti e bulloni, sono possibili milioni di combinazioni. Sul catalogo per tale meraviglia si sprecano i sostantivi: guardaroba, libreria, scaffalatura, separatore d'ambiente, portatutto, riassumicasino...

12 October 2011

Film review: "Larry Crowne" by Tom Hanks (2011), *


Academy Award® winners TOM HANKS and JULIA ROBERTS come together for what was supposed to be a perfect romantic comedy match with a heartwarming story about how it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing job, Larry Crowne (Hanks) enrolls at his local college to start over. There, he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher (Roberts). Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might rediscover life and love.


The worst film by Tom Hanks I have ever seen, by far. Clint Eastwood made a spectacularly successful shift from acting to directing, but Hanks, so far, did not.

This was a boring movie, I could not wait for it to end. No real story to speak of, no pathos, no drama, no fun, no message I could understand. Two high quality stars such as Hanks and Roberts, I thought, would guarantee a worthwhile night. I was soooo wrong. But I seem to be in a minority here. Most people seem to like it. So it you want to experience Hanks's directing... buy the DVD or BD! Here are the links:

10 October 2011

Book Review: Slaves of the Cool Mountains, by Alan Winnington, *****

Author with released slaves in Yunnan

Beijing, 1956: foreign correspondent Alan Winnington heard reports of slaves being freed in the mountains of south-west China. The following year he travelled to Yunnan province and spent several months with the head-hunting Wa and the slave-owning Norsu and Jingpaw. From that journey was born this book, which Neal Ascherson has called 'one of the classics of modern English travel writing'. The first European to enter and leave these areas alive, Winnington met a slave-owner who assessed his value at five silver ingots ('Your age is against you, but as a curiosity you would fetch a decent price'), a head-hunter who a fortnight earlier killed a man in order to improve his own rice harvest and a sorcerer struggling against the modern medicines sapping his authority and livelihood.

01 October 2011

Book Review: Excerpta Maldiviana, by HCP Bell, *****

Male' harbour in early 1880s
H.C.P. Bell 1887
This is not easy reading. In fact it is not really meant for reading at all. It is mostly a comprehensive catalog of historical documents on the islands, compiled by a British civil servant who went there many times over several decades spanning the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX.