Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Birthday book haul

And so the day of my 53rd birthday is coming to an end. I’ve celebrated with a quick jaunt to the last pizza place open in the area, and I’ve had dinner with my brother and a friend. The rest of the day, I spent reading – because it was my birthday, and I received a lot of books as gifts.

And I might as well share, so, here’s a list of all the wonders my friends gave me. In no particular order…

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Better Than Literature

This morning I saw a snippet, posted online by a contact of mine, off a school anthology book. Now, school anthologies are often the first impact with literature for a lot of kids. They know fiction through movies, and comics, and cartoons, but especially these days, the written word, the textual storytelling, may come late in a kids life.

And this snippet made it clear that (i quote from memory)

one must distinguish between serious literature and the simple fiction whose only purpose is to amuse and entertain

… and from there it went on to explain to the out-of-luck kid that might chance to read this sort of crap, that basically…

  1. if you like it because it’s fun then it’s gotta be rubbish
  2. if it’s prop’r litch’r’chure you should not have fun reading it, and you’re not smart to get it anyway

This sort of nonsense makes me SO angry.

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The best thing to come out of this pandemic

The best thing to come out of this pandemic, for me, has been the opportunity to launch a podcast with my friend Lucy – we decided to do it because we were (and actually still are) in lockdown, with our respective jobs fizzing out, and too much time on our hands.
Why not try something new?

Just imagine, spending about two hours a week chatting with one of your best friends about your favorite – or least favorite – movies.
A lot of those are horror movies – but we have a very broad definition of “horror”.
Basically we do online what we’d normally do going out for a pizza, with one significant difference – I am sitting in the hills of Astigianistan, while my friend Lucy is in Rome, 600 kms away. Hooking up for a bite and a night of movie-talking would be complicated.

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Project Gutenberg can’t be reached from Italy

The big news of the moment is, the Italian authorities have sealed all accesses to Project Gutenberg, the famous open library of classical texts – if you are in Italy, what you get when you hit gutenberg.org is a warning sign from the Guardia di Finanza, that the website you are trying to reach violated copyright laws.

What’s up?, you might ask.
Well, it turns out our authorities have cracked down on those websites where you can illegally download ebooks, and in particular those that allow the downloading of magazines and daily papers.
Now, how to find these websites?
Apparently the investigators made a list of all the URLs that were traded on certain Telegram channels.
Project Gutenberg was mentioned, so Project Gutenberg was blocked.

The situation is still pretty confused, but if on one hand our authorities are currently looking like dorks, and all those that were accessing the Gutenberg archives to do research, translations or out of sheer curiosity are left out in the cold, it is also true that this is a fine example of what can happen to our freedom in a few minutes.
Ironic, considering how vocal some people are in this moment about conspiracies involving viruses, 5G cell fields and Bill Gates.
But of course a lot of those never read a book in their life, certainly not on Project Gutenberg.

ADDENDUM: in the time it took me to write this post, the Gutenberg pages were unlocked. They can be dorks, but they are fast on the uptake.
Better this way.


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The little sister for breakfast

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m., brew some tea, checked my email, and then went and watched the 1969 movie Marlowe, featuring James Garner in the title role. The movie is based on ray Chandler’s novel The Little Sister, and is a tight neat little neo-noir.
Just what I needed to start my day.

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The long and short of it

I write mostly short stories and novellas. The main reasons, I think, have to do with time – on one hand, I often write to pay my bills, and writing fast is OK, but shorter works can be mailed out to publishers faster. But there is also another element, and it’s got to do with my impatience – as I often write to see how the story will go and what will happen to the characters, by writing short I get my answers sooner.

The same goes, I believe, with reading – as I grow old I find myself more attracted to short stories and novellas than to longer works, and I tend to prefer one shot novels to lengthy series.

But there are exceptions.

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Sleeping patterns and other stuff

You may have notice a sudden increase of video posts on this blog – and a few shorter posts. Fact is, while the lockdown’s been lifted in my country, I am still in my old house, in my old village, doing my old things. I used to say that the lockdown had not changed my daily routines… well, the lifting of the lockdown did not change them either.

The only thing that’s changed is my sleep patterns – after six weeks of solid insomnia, now I have developed the vitality and spark of a dormouse: I’d spend 16 hours a day sleeping.
Bummer.

This new scrambling on my daily rhythms is starting to get annoying.

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