Thursday, November 22, 2018

Dream Destinations

Over a thousand places are documented in this amazing collection of fictional places gathered by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi.  The authors excluded heavens and hells, places of the future and those beyond planet Earth to limit their project to an oversized book with a mere 450 pages!  A few of the places are familiar to me such as Toad Hall and Moominpapa's Island, but most are not, leading to so many new fascinating stories.  
There's Beersheba, a city of unknown location, and Ersilia, a city of ever-changing location.  Kadath is the capital of Dreamworld, and Perla is the capital of Dream Kingdom.  Perla is always covered by clouds, and Limanora is an island always surrounded by a ring of fog.
The place names alone are interesting, like Thumbs Up which used to be called Thumbs Down.  In Where-Nobody-Talks, everything is covered by a thick layer of invisible snow, stifling all sound.
 Some places sound awful, like Titipu, Japan, where the laws are so complex and constantly changing that travelers can commit crimes without even knowing it.  In Makalolo, a small country run by women warriors, the two queens are roasted and eaten after their five year rule is over.  
 One must get permission to enter Thieves City in the Klondike region of Canada by doing one of the following: rob the till, kidnap a well-known personality, find a new tax dodge, cheat at cards, or become a pirate publisher.
 The island of Three-O-Seven is a quarantine zone for those infected with immortality, for which the world's best chemists and biologists try to find an antidote. When immortals try to flee, the island is bombed (?!).  
In contrast, in Cockaigne, the inhabitants are also immortal, and war is unknown.  Sweets and chocolate grow at the edge of the woods, and cakes rain down from the heavens.  
I'd like to go to Cuccagna myself, where there are rivers of milk and pastries sprout along the roads.  People sing and play all day, monkeys play chess, and anyone found working is taken to prison!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

children's books 100

THE SONG OF THE YEW FAIRY

Here, on the dark and solemn Yew,
A marvel may be seen,
Where waxen berries, pink and new,
Appear amid the green.

I sit a-dreaming in the tree,
So old and yet so new;
One hundred years, or two, or three
Are little to the Yew.

I think of bygone centuries,
And seem to see anew
The archers face their enemies
With bended bows of Yew.


-from Flower Fairies of the Winter
by Cicely Mary Barker 

Sonata for a Good Man

The Lives of Others is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.  Set in East Germany before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the story is about a Stasi policeman ordered to spy on a playwright and his actress girlfriend. What he discovers and what he does changes their lives and his forever in this thriller that Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says is "the best kind of movie: one you can't get out of your head."