East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


When you go fake you never come back

A few years back, my brother, fresh from his Japanese Language Proficiency exam, got in a job interview for a post in which Japanese was a requirement.

“Here it says you know Japanese,” the interviewer said, waving my brother’s CV. “Why should I believe you?”
“I have a Proficiency Certificate.”
“That’s just a piece of paper, for all I know you printed it in your basement.”
“Try me, do you have a text I can translate…?”
“I don’t know Japanese.”
“Well, if your company has Japanese customers, call one up and I’ll be able to talk to him to your satisfaction.”
“I won’t waste an international call for that. I’ll just assume you don’t know Japanese. CVs are always full of bullsh*t, anyway.”

This sort of self-mutilating preventive mistrust is bleeding into the literary scene – authors post artificially pumped-up bios, publishers doctor sales figures, and everybody seems to think positive reviews are fakes.

Now, my own bio is available by clicking on the link up there in the right corner. It’s not been doctored, fixed or pumped up.
And yet… maybe it’s fun.
Yes, It’s certainly fun.
So, why not devote today’s post to my Official Fake Biography?

Let’s see… Continue reading


Taking a hike


Owen J. Lattimore did it the old way in Turkestan.

A few posts back, I mentioned watching the sky as a probably normal practice of ancient travelers.
Travel in the ancient world (and not so ancient, now that I think about it) was done on foot.
Even if merchandise and goods traveled on the back of camels or horses, humans normally went on foot.
Walking is a way of going that’s close to the territory, it’s slow and tiresome.
It’s something else.

Now I was talking about health, and getting back in shape (or at least try to), a few days back, with my friend Claire, and she suggested Nordic Walking as a soft, pleasant activity.
I pointed out that here, among the savage hills of Astigianistan, finding people to go hiking together might be a problem – the standard leisure activity hereabouts is sitting in front of the bar, gossiping. Continue reading

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Edgar Rice Burroughs

Today’s the birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer responsible for the creation of characters like Tarzan, John Carter, David Innes and many other friends that kept me company when I was a solitary kid in suburban Turin.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Writing Prompt – You don’t bring me flowers

Today’s prompt is from the cover of famous Italian magazine, La Domenica del Corriere


La Domenica del Corriere was a popular Italian magazine, published between 1899 and 1989.
It is famous for the color illustrations of its cover stories, which are today a much sought-after collector’s item.
This one, from the summer of 1958 is particularly interesting to me: 28 years old Guida Concetta Rinino was walking along a deserted path, on her way to see some relatives, when she was approached by an unknown man.
She refused his advances, and when he insisted, she scared him away by hitting him repeatedly with a bunch of roses.
Weird what could make headline news in those days, what?

And it all happened by Turin‘s Lingotto station – very close to the place where – nine years later – I was born.

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Sagging in the Middle

Aculeo&AmunetI wrote a short story, a new Aculeo & Amunet adventure, over the weekend.
It was fast and rough – I outlined it on a copybook while my brother drove me 80 kms to Turin on Saturday morning, I jotted down additional notes on the way back, checked my facts before dinner, and then wrote the first third after dinner on saturday night.
Yesterday I went and hammered out the rest.
8000 words story, nice and smooth.
Sort of.

Fact is, my story sagged in the middle.
I had a strong start, a big wham-bang! ending, but the middle was highly unsatisfactory. Continue reading


My (failed) Trans-Siberian Journey

In 1999 I was on the verge of taking my belated degree in geology, and I was working as quality control manager in a call center – doing nights.
To most, this mix may mean sleep deprivation, caffeine overdose and increasing hatred for our fellow humans.
But to me it also meant a small but steady income, and – soon – reason to celebrate.

And what’s the best way to celebrate the finalliberation from the increasingly oppressive University of Turin, but to plan and execute a long trip?

At the time, I had a good friend living in Hong Kong with the family.
So, what about saving money and taking a trip to that city?
After all, it had been one of my dream cities since I was ten or thereabouts.
And what about taking the trip by train? Continue reading