domenica, novembre 17, 2019

Venezia Città delle Asimmetrie by Ettore Camuffo

Venezia Città delle Asimmetrie
by Ettore Camuffo is an intense, interesting, sometimes technical book about the creation, the realization the transformation during the canturies, of Venice. Venice has been the dream of everyone from centuries. Most people decided of starting to live in Venice; Peggy Guggenheim had also a personal gondola and with this "car" of the canals she loved to going here and there for meeting people in the Serenissima. A chapter will explain you the various and most important palaces, one of the them the Venier. This one experienced a lot of influentials and positive people; apart the Venier Family later the eccentric and snob Casati would have brought to Venice artists like D'Annunzio and Man Ray. Later this important and most significant palace of Venice became the temple of Peggy Guggenheim.
The structures of these palaces were conceived in this way also for practical reasons. Interesting the chapter of wood, and what it meant for Venice, the spasmodic research of it during the centuries. Not only: you will discover how work is used in a city as Venice.
I loved so badly the chapter about the gondole. They're maybe the most beautiful characteristic of Venice; these little boats with a gondoliere who permit for once to everyone of feeling a sensation of importance and unicity; in the past gondole were not just used for tourists but for funerals and important families loved to keep them. With the time customs changed in the Laguna as well and people decided of changing habits. In the past gondole were more articulated, as you will read, and there is also a private gondoliere who, can you believe it? once was a woman, but at the moment became a man. He arrived from California, but the other gondolieri at first didn't accept him and he works privately.
There is the story of big companies of cruises that in general tend to parking for some while in Venice these enormous ships, with all the various positions; interesting the birth of Venice.


Highly recommended book if you love Venice and if you want to discover Venice in detail.

I thank Marsilio for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

sabato, novembre 16, 2019

The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas

The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas, published by Johns Hopkins
University Press traces the fascinating world that there was behind the literary story of this beloved author. and pulp fiction, authors connected with it and. modernity of publishing
It is true that Jane Austen became a name because published, because estimated, but most of her fame and her success is also synonime of pulp books; yes that books so cheap, so economical printed for the working class, that, in opposite case wouldn't never being in grade of buying a hardback and mostly important, reading. There is also to add as remarks the author that pulp fiction is trasversal and so that also rich and estimated authors bought these cheap books, for saving money, because attracted by their cover. There are many reasons why a person also pretty rich is motivated to buying a pulp book. In the case of Jane Austen, James Joyce for example a case of a writer perennially, till later obsessed by lack of money had a great selection of pulp fiction, including the ones of Jane Austen; same was for Henry James and Mark Twain; both of them truly hated the idea of Jane Austen and her literary genre.
These pulp books by Jane Austen and other authors started pretty soon to being spotted in railway stations and other places pretty distant from the common bookshop, and they were in particular printed for travellers. Pocket Books in the Usa and Penguin in Europe in this sense made the difference. When you buy a Penguin you know that it will be forever. What changed intellectually? It was a revolution, because books reached everyone and not just an elite of readers. They were much more democrats and they were there for their readers. A lot of more people could know, dream, living the passions and stories told by Jane Austen; something that, if pulp fiction wouldn't have existed they could not have been reached. We all know the power of literature, we all know the power of knowledge, also of these work sof fictions and the vision of Pocket Books and Penguin was soon imitated by other publishing houses and new characters, new vendors, book stalls started to born, and to represent a new idea of literature and its ability of sharing knowledge with every person, of every social condition. It meant business as well. You will find absolutely find fascinating the story of publication from various publishing houses of Jane Austen's novels.

Not only: with the time Jane Austen and many other authors became crucial for all that people interested of giving out a product in grade of educating the working class, trying to avoid deliquential acts passing through education. We all know the immense power that a good mind develops thanks to culture.
For this purpose creation of paperback editions became  indispensible, but while someone was fighting for their publication fwith the purpose of educating people less acculturate because they could not go to college or also maybe had a poorest education, at the same time discrimination regarding paperback editions remained at long; also till at the beginning of the XX century, when paperback became a phaenomen of big proportion. In part thanks in Europe to Penguin; the idea of the European Publishing House, of publishing books in grade of resisting at the passage of time was of big inspiration for other American realities. Where, they thought, people need a book for reading? In bus and train station but why not? also in a drugstore and wherever a person could find them.
In particular after the big crisis and recession of the end of 1920s paperbacks became something else: an education tool for all that readers more poor but with that anger of knowledge in grade of letting them buy books.
Not only: promotion of cheapest paperbacks became a reality when put in comparison a pocket of cigarettes at just 22 cents and a hardback, more than two dollars.
It could not exist. It was indispensible to change song. Under the war restrictions as you will read were also applied to paperback books. This time it was a big success and after the war, paperbacks edition became incredibly important. But Jane Austen with many other authors didn't spread culture just through paperbacks editions, but also through...soap and cheap paerback copies presented as giveways by a company of soap. This one an interesting and wonderful idea.
A publishing house reprinted classics books, including the ones of the beloved author  with beautiful paintings on the covers. We are in Philadelphia at the end of 18900s and the beginning of 1900s. Illustrations were in grade of giving a first idea of what the reader was buying, at a cheap price. Personally I love paintings and beauty on the cover of a book, a pretty common practice at the moment, but unusual for that times.
Jane Austen has never been an author just for women. Men also adore her books and tend to read them. The idea of classifying her books just for women appeared can you believe it in the 1960s when in the past suffragists brought in the squares Jane Austen because considered a feminist.  It was the XX century that classified Jane Austen an author just for women. In 1896 and 1897 Pride and Predjudice was published in the series of Christmas for boys and girls.
There would be much more to writing about Jane Austen and pulp fiction. The clarity of this book, but also the captivating style and its wonderful approach will guide through the land of publishing houses, successes, and a fight always and still existing: the one of keeping culture accessible to everyone for a best future.

Highly recommended also as a Christmas Gift.

I thank Johns Hopkins University for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

Disrespectful Democracy The Psychology of Political Incivility by Emily Sydnor

Disrespectful Democracy The Psychology of Political Incivility by Emily Sydnor
published by Columbia University Press is a book that will let you think a lot.
This book substantially makes the point about a new trend from a certain point at this part that it is going on in policy: incivility.
I have seen also the old times, when there was respect, and when things "sounded" to go pretty well. From decades at this part, the electorate is pretty angry with their politicians and tones, in every possible way, in every platform, TV, internet, social medias included is becoming always more violent and intollerant. There are still people uninterested at the parossistic disrespect for every kind of institution, but most of them try all their best for writing attacking this or that candidates in social media; most of them for sharing their thoughts, for convincing others of what they did electing a certain person, and so on; they also love to sharing their ideas about important and warm thematic in the agenda of the President or premier of that country; some of them are activists, and they want to lett know to the rest of people the reasons why that person is not good, or vice versa the best one electorate could pick up.
But: which is the portrait of these people? 
"These people are not distubed by the presence of conflict around them, and even thrive in a high-conflict environment. Therefore, they will not shy away from disagreements in their personal social networks, nor from environments that will expose them in conflict between other people" writes the author.
Sure policy is changed during the last decades. 
The new escalation of populists leaders, or new parties with new younger leaders established a communicative approach more immediate, more frank, sometimes rude, and respect slowly has been demolished; disrespect started to become and it is the main coin of this aggressive historical moment. 
The electorate, tired, very tired, in this sense is following their leaders and what they tend to see in their behavior, imitating them in their good and bad actions; they think like them, they act like them. This one the limit and the danger of this new policy. 
In the book the analysis of social medias and asperity created by the internet.

While I was reading this book I thought with a certain worry where this incivility will bring the world if the trend won't change. 

An interesting appendix at the end of the book  can let you see how mrs Sydnor works, testing people regarding incivility, conflict orientation and different behavioral reacton through various surveys. I found also that section pretty stimulating and interesting.

Highly recommended.

I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 



giovedì, novembre 14, 2019

Ludwig Wittgenstein by Miles Hollingworth

Ludwig Wittgenstein by Miles
Hollingworth is an original biography of this beloved philosopher. Wittgenstein after the last war has been one of the most important listened philosophers although his existential life has been pretty particular under many ways.
This book is divided in five chapters: On the Spirit of a Man, Bograophy Versus Genius, Numbers Station When the Camera is on Us and Sex and the Last Stand.
The biographer is not interested in giving to his reader a biography like all the other ones written about a thinker, a man of letter, but following throughts, existentialist trajectories of this philosopher, he will be in grade of giving back to us a perfect painting of the man, and his ideas with, also all his contraditions. You will see and read the chapter about sex, and speculations about Wittgenstein's homosexuality. 
Wittgenstein worked mainly in the fields of logic, language, truth. 
Captivating and real. 
One of the best and original books I read during this year.

Highly recommended.

I thank Oxford University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

Christmas is Coming Celebrate the Holiday with Art, Stories, Poems, Songs, and Recipes

Powerful, powerful book Christmas is Coming Celebrate the Holiday with
Art, Stories, Poems, Songs, and Recipes wanted by Metropolitan Museum of Art published by Abrams Books. Wonderfully and entirely illustrated using paintings of the most beloved recent or oldest painters, this book will be a wonderful gift for young readers, true but also for everyone else, in particular if in love for the festivity.
Absolutely captivating, it captures the essence of Christmas in many ways. 

If the first part the book introduces the word Christmas, so the arrival of Jesus Christ, the second part Stories and Tales is maybe the most powerful section to my point of view; moving stories, moving tales in grade of opening also the hardest heart of this world. 
I can tell you that: I cried a lot reading most of these stories. I didn't know some of them: I knew
 the fairy-tale of the elves ad the shoe-maker because I read it when very little, but, for example I didn't remember the story of Papa Panov's special Christmas. Translated into english by Tolstoj: this one is a short tale about a man waiting for the arrival of Jesus. Oh: tremendously impressive!
Absolutely stunning the letter written by the staff of the New York Sun, replying at a kid called Virginia; the little girl asked if Santa Claus existed, because people sometimes don't believe at him. Keeping Christmas by Henry Van Dyke is the powerful summary of what Christmas is. 
We will also meet a moving short tale by Lucy Maud Montgomery: Uncle Richard's Christmas Dinner, where we see a man auto-isolated by the rest of his family and rhe compassionate gesture of his niece.

The Third Part it's all about the most beloeved Christmas's songs while the Fourth Part is about Poems. One I loved a lot is

Christmas is Coming 

Christmas is Coming,
the geese are getting fat,
please put a penny
in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny
a ha'penny will do;
If you haven't got a ha'penny
then God bless you!

This poem it's about being grateful for what we have, sharing what we have with people less lucky than us.

The final Fifth Part it's about Christmas's recipes.

What is Christmas of not the joy of sharing with others our love, friendship, compassion, generosity, hospitality? And let's remember that Christmas is not just for a day: it should be celebrated everyday with the same joy of December 25th.

Highly recommended.

I thank Abrams & Chronicle Books for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

The Friendsgiving Handbook by Emily Stephenson, illustrated by Melanie Gandyra

The Friendsgiving
Handbook by Emily Stephenson, illustrated by Melanie Gandyra is a new book by Chronicle Books pretty stimulating. Thanksgiving is the holiday more loved of all the USA. As Constance an American neighbor and friend of mine told me, this festivity is felt, there is not the stress brought by Christmas and people really enjoy to staying together and can you imagine it? For this reason, and for this feast million and million of people return to their hometowns, for a meal, true, but also for sharing some time with the rest of their relatives.
The author experienced a lot of weird Thanksgivings; pretty depressing, in restaurants, weird ones and at least, considering also the distance with her own family and the idea of seeing them during the Christmas's Time, the final decision:hosting the Thanksgiving, calling it Friendsgiving, inviting all her friends. Consider this: the Thanksgiving is an enormous meal with wagons of people ready of eating this world and the other, so, of course it's necessary not to be generous: much more, in terms of food, beverages of every sorta, hospitality. This book won't just offer you 25 wonderful recipes for all tastes (you can find friends intollerant at some food, vegan or vegetarian; no one must be discriminated or left alone) but also practical advice for not getting lost in a day that, for you and for your friends must remain a memorable one.

Written with a friendly and energetic approach highly recommended. 

I thank Chronicle Books for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori 

martedì, novembre 12, 2019

Fund rising on FB for The Gubbio - Raccolta fondi per Il Gubbio di San Francisco

I know the Gubbio Project till the beginning of its story. I was a reporter, once, and it happened, a sunny day of 2005, surfing the web and searching news of our city, Gubbio, online, of discovering this charity based in one of the most stunning, beautiful and sunny cities of the USA: San Francisco. 
I said to my colleague Carlo, our coordinator and vice-editor: "Look Carlo: in San Francisco a charity has been baptized Gubbio. I would want to discover much more about it. This story sounds amazing." He was enthusiastic like me of this news and so I contacted, at that time, the first coordinator of the Gubbio, Michelle Roder. Michelle was thrilled of being in contact with someone from Gubbio.  Fr.Louie, the founder of the charity decided of creating this reality inspired by our city and the story of Saint Francis and the Wolf, helping some homeless who, in opposite case would have spent the night outside, and without any certainty of seeing the light the day after. Night is pretty scaring and cold.
But what did at first the church of Saint Boniface located in the Tenderloin? They open their doors and pews at homeless, letting them sleep in the church, a sacred place. If churches don't help, who should, after all?
I continued to support the Gubbio during the years. When Michelle married her husband, they have two beautiful children now, she also invited ALL the homeless of the Saint Boniface, because inclusion is important, and goodness and being all united, without differences is the best thing to do. The Gubbio Project  is a place where people are treated with dignity. 

Later the role of Michelle was absorbed by Laura Slattery. I met her this past summer to Gubbio. I remember I didn't sleep at all that night, thinking I would have met someone of a charity and a news that marked my reporter-life, because one of the first I discovered on the net and one of the most beloved ones.
I had written during the years various pieces, interviewing Laura, Michelle, trying to understand what the charity was doing for bettering the existence of homeless. Sometimes homeless once were intelligent and brilliant people, with a work, with a family; then for a reason or another they lost everything. Of course we find also stories of veterans, of addictions. 

It's a great charity, and to my point of view is the best example that we could have had in a city, San Francisco, where freedom, compassion, dignity is assured to everyone. And it brings the name of the city where I was bor: Gubbio.


Conosco il Gubbio Project praticamente dall'inizio della sua storia. Fondato nel 2004 mi imbattei in questa notizia, online, nel 2005. Ne fui entusiasta. Ne parlai subito con il nostro coordinatore, Carlo e lui mi disse di procedere. Capii da subito il grandissimo valore che portava con sé la charity. Chiamare una charity Gubbio significava credere in quanto fatto da San Francesco con il Lupo e con le persone: donare dignità agli altri, anche quando questa dignità, per una ragione o per l'altra era andata persa. Donare una nottata al caldo ai senzatetto, permettendogli di dormire in chiesa non aveva prezzo.
Michelle è stata simpaticissima (stupita e meravigliata dall'essere stata raggiunta da qualcuno che vive a Gubbio) e da subito mi ha offerto tutto l'aiuto e il sostegno necessario per comprendere. Noi viviamo in una piccola realtà e capire cosa stesse accadendo a San Francisco necessitava spiegazioni. 
Ho continuato negli anni a seguire il Gubbio Project. C'è stato un momento di riflessione in cui la charity ha tentato di capire come migliorare il servizio per i senzatetto ed adesso non ci sono solo spazi per dormire the sacred sleep, il sonno sacro, lo chiama cos' Laura Slattery ma vengono forniti tantissimi altri servizi: dalle colazioni, alle docce, per passare agli esami del sangue, laddove vogliano essere fatti, al reinserimento nella società tramite un nuovo lavoro, e così via. Gli ospiti vengono seguiti con attenzione. Con gli anni il Gubbio ha coinvolto altre realtà che hanno trovato l'idea più che eccellente.
Perché ho scelto questa charity per le donazioni sotto il mio compleanno?

Ci sono affezionata, porta il nome della città dove sono nata; credo sia un esempio stesso per dirla tutta per la nostra città, di dignità, inclusione,  partecipazione, compassione, reale aiuto verso gli altri. Tutti valori che sarebbero piaciuti da Dio, permetteremi l'espressione, a San Franscesco. Mi ha finito di convincere il fatto che gli ospiti necessitino di un nuovo boiler e coperte, sennò stanno al freddo durante l'inverno. 
Direi di dare tutti quanti una mano, con quello che possiamo. Oggi ho donato 10 euro e spero che anche voi possiate fare la vostra parte. Non so voi, ma quando penso che un piccolo gesto possa far stare meglio qualcuno che magari non conoscerò mai ma che potrà mangiare con gli spicci che invio, potrà riscaldarsi con quel denaro che ho versato, mi sento felice, appagata.
Grazie a tutti e grazie al Gubbio, a Laura Slattery che ho conosciuto con grandissimo piacere e a quanto tutti i volontari e i sostenitori, in modo diverso fanno ogni giorno per migliorare l'esistenza di tante persone.



Anna Maria Polidori