Finding lost memories throughout books

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Books will lead the way.
Giambattista Bodoni has just woken up in the hospital. He seems to have forgotten almost everything after a stroke. Unable to go on with his life as a book dealer in Milan, he’s adviced to go back to his home town.
In a little villa, Yambo, as he’s also known, starts wandering around the rooms. It’s there when he finds books, all sort of books. It’s also there, when he starts to find the memories that he has lost.
This is the story that is told by Umberto Eco in his novel The mysterious flame of Queen Loana, a book that has a different taste from his previous works.
Anyways, Eco manages to keep the esscense that has marked most of his books, which are often related to the middle ages.
In this case, the characters are place in modern Italy, and yet the author mantains the link to the past ages leaving Yambo free to wander (throughout books) around those times and events that marked the history and culture of Italy, and his very own history.
This book also shows a much more relaxed Umberto Eco, who seams to have taken great pleasure while writing this singular novel that talks about the country were he was born.

The amazing world of Steven Millhauser

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Where illutions meet reality.
I don’t exactly recall when it was that I found out that the movie The Illusionist (starring Edward Norton) had been based upon a story written by Steven Millhauser, but once I knew it, I remember myself getting really curious about it.
Soon I learned that the story was, in fact, a short story part of a collection of works written by Millhauser and published in 1990 under the title of The Barnum Museum.
Then I got really really curious about the story. I was amazed by the idea that a short story could give the idea for a whole movie, and kept on thinking that it had to be a fantastic tale full of precise details.
As time passed by, I remained curious about it until I finally got the book (2007 edition). Then I went straight to the story called Eisenheim The Illusionist.
And then, as it happened to me while seing the movie, I became part of the illusion one more time.
From page 215 to page 237, the words caught all my attention, bringing out lively images of the amazing achivements of this unique magician capable of enchanting people.
The tricks, the ambience, the gestures of Eisenheim, the exclamations of the public… all of them came alive, as if I were seated somewhere in the middle of this theater in Vienna that was the silent witness of the magical arts of this man who’d been able to combine science, technology and persuation to make people believe that it was true what was in fact an illution.
Then I got to the last word of the story, and again, as in the movie, the feeling of having being part of the enchanment remained for along while.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall

A place where there's nothing else but peace of mind.
Many ideas came to my mind while deciding what image could go with the word Fall, first I thought I could use a down tree; then I thought I’d go for a colorful landscape during Fall season, but I finally decided to go for this wonderful water fall.

For the love of Coffee

By Nora Vasconcelos

Coffee and I always have been a great relationship.
The smell coming from the beverage, the sweet taste, the warm feeling in my hands while holding the cup. It’s so great, that allows me to take my mind away for a few seconds.
Having a delicous cup of coffee, is one of the most simple and comforting things in life, no matter in what presentation it comes.
This is the reason why it made me really curious to see what sort of novels related to coffee I could find.

This is what I came up with:

About 1930, the Agatha Christie presented a play called Black Coffee, in which one of her famous characters, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot tries to unvail an international plot on the verge of the Second World War. Breakfast takes an important role in the play that was published later on as a novel.

Another book taking the same title was written in 2002 by Tracy Price-Thomson. The story is a military drama mixed with romantic situations between the main characters, Sanderella Coffee and Romulus Caesar.

Some years later, David Liss presented a book The Coffee Trader. A story placed in the 17th Century, when the main character, Miguel Lienzo, works in Amsterdam on the coffee business, a new product in Europe by that time.

The novels Coffee will make you black by April Sinclair (1995), and Let it rain coffee by Angie Cruz (2005) are social dramas in which the main characters struggle to find some comfort and piece of mind while dealing with difficult environments.

In 2008, Anthony Capella presented The Various Flavors of Coffee, a novel placed in the 19th Century when the characters Samuel Pinker and Robert Wallis attempt to set an international guide of the coffee beans commerce. While doing this, they face the social problems that are happening by that time in the places they visit.

The last two titles are not novels, but they’re certainly funny and interesting for coffee lovers: The Garfield’s Guide to Coffee Mornings by Jim Davis, full of cartoons and the sharp comments of the famous orange cat; and the Quiz deck All About Coffee by Evelin Sinclair, a series of cards that will keep you reading till the end and then will make you look as an expert on coffee among your friends.

And now, after sharing my findings, the only thing that is left to say is… It’s coffee time!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Faces

What's the plan for today?
Having fun?
When's walking time?

Who could resist to these lovely faces?

“The masterpiece of Nature”

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Friendship.
Between 1830 and 1840, the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote and published a series of essays aimed to share his toughts about diferent aspects of life.
His works were full of his own observations on how the world around him worked and how he felt about it.
From these essays there’s one in particular that I find really moving. This is the one in which Emerson talks about Friendship.
After exploring differnet faces of human relationships, the author concludes that “a friend may well be reckoned as the masterpiece of nature”
As Emerson says, there are several ways in which human beings are tied up: blood, admiration, lucre, love… But he says that when someone becomes dear to us mearely for they tenderness, then we’ve been “touched by fortune”.
Regardless the time that has passed since Emerson wrote this words, I find them still amazing, and admire the sensitivity of the author who was able to develop these essays about topics that are around us everyday of our lives but that some times, due to the daily hurries, we are not able to see them or forget that they are there, such as frienship, and how important it’s for us to be aware of how unique and special are the circummstances in which frienndship is born and remains alive as the time passes by. Something very nice to keep in mind.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Textured

Refreshing times.

Beautiful sculpture of happy dolphins on a sunny day enjoying the splash coming from the fountain.

Dear Diego. Love, Quiela

A sad love story.
There are some times when we’re down that a story full of strong feelings make us reconnect with reality and help us place our somehow hurt feeling back on track.
One of this stories is a short book with only 72 pages, written by the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska in which she recreates, in a fictional way, the love story between the painters Diego Rivera, from Mexico, and the Russian artist Angelina Beloff.
In the book, Angelina is represented by a young woman called Quiela, who has fallen deeply in love with the Mexican painter.
As they walk apart, Quiela remains in love with the artist, and starts writing a series of letters in which she tells all about her life and let all her feeling for Rivera show.
It’s from this correspondence that the book takes its title, as if it were the begining and the end of the letter.
However, the story takes a sad tone as it advances because in spite of the several letters that Quiela has sent to Diego, he never actually replies with a love letter.
Even as it seems that Quiela realizes that she has lost the love of her Diego, she keeps on writing, some times in an understanding manner due to the many activities that absorbe Diego’s time; some other times, Quiela tries to reproach Diego’s indiference.
In the end, Quiela just gives up, and despite the lack of interest from the man she loves, she admits that she’ll always love him, keeping the readers with the sad feeling of not being able to comfort this soul that hasn’t being able to get over her lost love.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Going everywhere.
How many forms a path can take? It could be a straight line that show us the shortest way to go to a place, it could be an earthy way opened among the trees in a forest, it could be a sidewalk made of concrete or a wooden bridge. Paths also could be invisible routes written in our minds or souls that tell us where to go. As infinite as they are, paths are always part of our lives.