Saturday, April 30, 2016

Yay! My new Italian books arrived!

Couldn't resist! Okay, so no, he's not up to reading Nadia Terranova's Gli Anni al Contrario, or really much of anything in Italian. But we do read Italian books together! Books with Pimpa exploring Firenze alongside Dante (delightful) and books about the Riace bronzes and books about a boy named Leonardo who loves the beach and has a lot of questions. Buona lettura a tutti!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dialogue in search of a story

“She has a psychological problem. She still pays her bills with checks. Who does that?"
(Said by a man at the Albany airport last year who spoke in a mix of English and Italian dialect, punctuating his Italian with phrases in English like “I don't know” or “yeah,” and punctuating his Italian with the words perche’, cazzo, mai!) 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Houses of Atlanta

In Cabbagetown.
I love taking photos of houses. And Atlanta offers a smorgasbord because the housing stock can sometimes change block to block or neighborhood to neighborhood. This is a project in search of a real photographer. I imagine an exhibit where the walls would be covered with photos of houses in Atlanta, as distinct as people's faces.

In Grant Park.

In Home Park.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What I'm Reading (March-April)

Third installment here of what I am reading. Not just the official book list but all the books I peruse throughout the month.

So that includes what I am reading as I study for my MFA in Writing from Bennington College and the other books that tickle my fancy.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I want to record life exactly as it happens, and in the case of one's reading life, that means taking into account not just the books you read from start to finish but books you skim, books you pick up to read for a few minutes while waiting for something else to happen, stuff you consult in the course of research, books you cadge from the Little Libraries in your neighborhood (does anyone else do this? Atlanta, and especially my neighborhood in Atlanta, is full of these joyous little wooden structures that look like mailboxes or better yet miniatures of the houses behind them) etc.

So here we go for March/early April:.... 30 days in the life of Jeanne reading (books only).

Books read for Bennington coursework:
Viola Di Grado, Hollow Heart
Marie Howe, In the Kingdom of Ordinary Time (poetry)
Muriel Spark, Public Image
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (still reading)
Junot Diaz, Drown

Books read (in parts) for Bennington lecture research:
Giorgio Bassani, Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini
Natalia Ginzburg, Lessico Famigliare

Books read for fun!:
Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

Ongoing Italian novel consumption:
*Donatella Di Pietrantonio, Bella Mia
*Nadia Terranova, Gli Anni al Contrario

These last two books I've read only in part!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Reading Bruce Chatwin

It was bound to happen -- sooner or later, I would begin reading Bruce Chatwin's travel books.

I've long been interested by "In Patagonia," which I still haven't read, so when I stumbled on a book of Chatwin's letters at my local library in Atlanta, I decided it was time to begin my journey in Chatwin country.

And what a journey. He sounds like an incredible charming person who could also be incredibly difficult, incredibly enigmatic, incredibly pedantic, incredibly myopic about his work and what he needed to do it well.

So an overachiever, probably. An overachiever who seemed to travel constantly. He and his wife lived largely separate, and his letters alight from all corners of the Earth, from Patagonia (of course) to Italy to Australia, India, and on and on.

Notably, excerpted letters from other people contained in several footnotes alert us that he was a blabbermouth! Or at least, that's how some people viewed him.

What's more, an unexpected feature of the volume of letters is a running commentary by his wife, giving the behind-the-scenes on various situations, debacles, fantasies and love affairs (yes, love affairs) embroiling Bruce at any given moment.

I often think about the nature of genius in one specific way: does it require a self-devotion so steady that the person naturally repels most other people in his orbit?

The answer seems to be yes. But what of it? A book of letters written by a traveling man or essays about journeys constitute mini-vacations for me. As I read, I'm sitting each night on the futon I've covered with a Mexican blanket in my drafty home in relatively staid Atlanta but for a moment I'm walking along the Thames or interviewing a man in the Amazon or crossing a bridge in a bright African nation.

Not bad for a book I took out of the library on Ponce.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When work + travel = life (for HLN)

I like to write about travel whenever I can. And sometimes work and pleasure combine. 

Here's a story (click on 'story') I wrote for HLN, a division of CNN, about a new kind of travel company that organizes long overseas excursions for so-called "digital nomads" who can work from anywhere. 

"Think of it as co-working meets Club Med."


Monday, April 11, 2016

"The Business of Living"

Apparently that's the name of the Italian writer Cesare Pavese's published diaries.

The Business of Living. Or in Italian: Il Mestiere di Vivere.

File under: Books I want to read.

(With my thanks to the Writer's Chronicle, where the book appeared in the bibliography of an article about translation).