Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Oh, damn!

So I spent most of last night listening to some music (I’m currently on a Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Incidents bender) and fitting together the little pieces of a short story based on the guidelines I posted yesterday.
You know, the one about the wrong sort of leading lady.

It was not easy, it required a lot of staring at the screen and playing solitaire and what not.
But finally, I got all the bits and pieces in place, and the mechanism worked like, well, clockwork, while still leaving me enough margin to improvise and keep the narrative lively.

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Four Cities

It is all my friend Claire’s fault, of course.
She just posted about this interesting writing prompts website, and in particular she mentioned the prompt about describing your city as a person.

I did some attempt at it on Claire’s page, but then I thought I’d like to expand on that.
Leaving Castelnuovo Belbo out of the picture, if you please, because after my first attempt at Claire’s, I am sure it would be just an exercise in necrophilia.
And because it’s not my city, or town or village or hole in the ground.
I’m just living here, but I do not belong. Thank goodness!

As I mentioned in the past, I am a two-cities kind of guy.
A girl I knew once said it’s because I am a Gemini.
But I really have four cities, so maybe I’m a Gemini with Gemini ascendant, who knows. Or maybe it’s just superstitious rubbish, and I’m in fact one of those “city slickers” Joe Jackson mentioned a long time ago…

We think we’re pretty smart
Us city slickers get around
And when the going’s rough
We kill the pain and relocate
We’re never married
Never faithful not to any town

So here goes, my web-exclusive Four Cities, an exercise in impromptu urban fantasy.
Enjoy. Continue reading


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Dark-haired beauties in red

Giovanni Boldini http://www.tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.comI will not make it to the art exhibit in the Royal Palace of Venaria, dedicated to the work of Giovanni Boldini.
Time is short, money is tight, and one needs to make choices.
The up side is, thanks to the web, it is easy to create our own art exhibit – granted, it’s not the same as the real thing, but it’s still better than sitting in front of the local bar, waiting for death (which seems to be the usual pastime hereabouts).

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was a weird chap – and is portrayed here by the side with Marquess Casati and another guy during a masked ball. Boldini is the one that does not fit in. Continue reading


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Cities of the Imagination

It went like this: first my friend Hell (yes, they really call him like that) did a blog post about the city he writes about, the city he was born in, Taranto. Then my friend Alex did a piece about the city he was born in, and about which he writes about, Milan.
And so I did a piece on the city where I was born, and about which I sometimes write about, Turin.
The piece that came out is weird and melancholy, and I even forgot to give it a title, and you can find it here translated through some web gizmo that I’m sure will make it even more surreal.

night-trains-turin

But the fact is, I have written a lot more about London, Paris and Shanghai that I ever did about Turin.
And so, why not do an alternate universe sort of piece, about the towns I write about in my fiction?
My cities of the imagination, if it does not sound too pretentious, and with all due respect for both Italo Calvino and Schuiten & Peeters. Continue reading


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Travels of the mind (and one day, maybe, the body)

It all started with an impromptu sort of thing.
Meeting a friend after a long time.  It’s been quite a while since we spent some time together, we have a lot of catching up to do.
So we decided to meet in the next few days, in Turin, and spend a whole day rambling around the Egyptian Museum. We both love Egyptian antiquities, and the old museum was one of our favorite haunts..
And there’s climate control in the museum – so we could stroll among the mummies and talk, in the cool air. Then maybe a bite somewhere reasonably cheap but quality.
So, why not?

Well, let me tell you why not.
A quick check with the Egyptian Museum website tells me the ugly truth. Continue reading


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Friday Prompts: We’ll always have Paris

My Paris when it sizzles Pinboard, which I set up as I was collecting period photos to document my story A Spider with Barbed-Wire Legs1, has grown to over 1000 black and white photos of Paris.

So here’s the sort of thing I’d love to do, and you might like to try yourself – why not pick 5 of these photos at random, and use them to build a story?

Might be fun.


  1. the story is featured in the collection Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions, by Arc Dream Publishing.