Donna Leon’s ABOUT FACE, p.237

Here the main character, Inspector Brunetti, meets a mysterious woman with a face carved-up from the effects of a bad plastic surgery. They meet in Campo Sant Magherita, one of these little neighborhoods in Venice with its own plaza, it’s own coffee shops, its own wine bars, its own sunken artesian wells, its own pigeons, its own newspaper stands, its own gelato places, its own churches.

Self was always getting lost in campos, and wandering around in circles. She may have been in this particular campo.

Inspector Brunetti asks his companion, “Do you come here often?”

She replies: “In the summer I do. We live quite close. I love ice-cream, she said. She glanced out of the large plate glass window. “And I love this campo. It’s so — I don’t know the right word — so full of life; there are always so many people here.” She glanced at him and said, I suppose this is the way it was years ago, a place where ordinary people lived.”

Yes, this is definitely light years away from Death & Judgment. By this, her 18th book, Donna Leon feels more at home in her adopted city, and her characters speak more about their surroundings.

Highly recommended.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.   Stay tuned.

Christmas Eve 2014: Remembering That Time Self Went to Tonle Sap Lake

Self is looking at all the books she acquired in 2014 (Quite a lot, even though she’s got hardly any bookshelf space left). One of them is Colin Poole’s Tonle Sap.

“Tonle Sap” means The Heart of the World. That’s a very fitting name for this large lake, bordered by four countries: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

The reason self brings this up now is: She was there, 10 years ago, with Ying.

Ying, who died in 2008, in Tel Aviv.

She remembers Ying telling one of her dear bros that the trip was “girls only.”

So it ended up just being the two of us: Bangkok first, then Siem Reap. In Siem Reap, we hired a car and driver and he took us to Tonle Sap.

Self remembers Ying telling her: “You are far more adventurous than any of your brothers.”

Self thought that trip to Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap would only be the first of many, many trips. But Ying got leukemia. She didn’t even last a year from the date of her diagnosis.

Life just isn’t fair.

How the Truth Resembles a Donna Leon Novel

Excerpt from an article published in The New York Review of Books, March 20, 2014. The subject is the city of Pompeii and the adjoining city of Herculaneum, but it doesn’t take much to realize that the same conditions also apply to Venice:

Today there are other cataclysms affecting the region and the buried cities, less spectacular, perhaps, than Vesuvius in full pyroclastic glory, but no less destructive: pollution, climate change, greed, ignorance, poverty, political corruption, organized crime. The industrial area of ancient Pompeii lies outside the old city walls, and therefore outside the archaeological site, which has been under government protection since the eighteenth century.

*     *     *     *

. . .  Pompeii, like every other museum and historical site in Italy, has struggled on alone, suffering both from the drastic budget cuts imposed on the Ministry of Culture during the two decades (1993 – 2013) when former prime minister (and convicted felon) Silvio Berlusconi and his party were in power, and from the gross corruption of some of Berlusconi’s local appointees. Notoriously, Marcello Fiori, the special commissioner for Pompeii who arrived in 2010, now faces trial for embezzlement and a “restoration” of the ancient theater that local papers have characterized as “an avalanche of modern cement.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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