Torturo Review

October 31, 2007

Here, at the blog spot if Universal Pathways,  is another review of my book The Translation of Father Torturo.

It contains the following: “If you start reading it, you are not going to put it down before you get to the final page…”

Back from Istanbul…

October 30, 2007

Three days of vigorous meatball and kebab eating. But not normal meatballs and kebabs. Rather historical. Meatball recipes of the Ottoman Empire. Soups that make the head swim. Baklavah in every shape and style. 

One regret: not trying a custard desert made with chicken. 

Byzantine researches are difficult.

Off to Istanbul today…

October 27, 2007

…be back on Tuesday.

Mesh of Viens

October 23, 2007

The following is a story that was originally published in Redsine (2002) and subsequently translated into Danish and published in the magazine Science Fiction (2006). Since I don’t want this story to be permanently archived on here, I am just going to leave it up for a week. So read it now if you so have the inclination.

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Il Consigliori

October 20, 2007

Year: 1973

Director: Alberto De Martino

English Title: The Counsellor

What an excellent film! The version I saw was horribly panned and scanned, but even so still proved to be extremely entertaining.

Basically we have a mafia godfather, Martin Balsam, and his lawyer godson, Tomas Milian. And Milian is, as usual, brilliant. The coolest actor of the 70’s.  

I should also note that the version I saw was the Italian version, which means that Martin Balsam’s voice was not his own, but it also means that the dialogue was as it was originally intended to be, in Italian. Basically, I don’t know what the English version is like, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the dialogue wasn’t as good.

The director of this film also worked with Milian on the very bizarre Ci risiamo, vero Provvidenza?—a film completely different, but equally outstanding.

This is a film that sorely needs to be released in a wide screen DVD version with optional English and Italian tracks with subtitles.

Father Torturo Preamble

October 19, 2007

The preamble to my novel The Translation of Father Torturo, which you can buy here.


     “Hal-le-lu-jah, hal-le-lu-u-jah-jah!”

     Clouds of yellow smoke curled upward, like slowly revolving apparitions in the light of the immense and stately candles which were placed, dozen upon dozen, throughout the interior of the cathedral; – the ceiling, the cupola, seemingly as high over head as the night sky – thoroughly Romanesque, Byzantine, ornate décor protruding from all sides, dripping from above like stalactites, surging from the walls in carven stone and  bronze panels, rising in grand pillars, winking in frescoed patches and chapels: the depiction of men at arms and others martyred; a few modern contrivances, the worst of contemporary art, dropped in, for juxtaposition, ugly slashes to enhance the already turbulent presence of the bizarre.

     “Hal-le-lu-jah, hal-le-lu-u-u-jah-ah!”

     The small figure stood before the seated gathering. She sang into the microphone in an untrained, slightly cacophonic voice that was yet buttered with faith. Sheathed in the coarse, clean costume of her calling, vestal white; eyes like raisins behind simple spectacles; her voice uttered that modulated praise to Him, Master of all human affairs, Creator and Ruler of the universe.

     The smoke plumed upward: aromatic, reminiscent of decomposed saints, hypnotic as it joined to the rhythmical chanting.

     A beggar woman, a mad woman, obese and malformed (the majority of the weight being confined between her lower torso and hams), struggled along one darkened side of the cathedral, the struggle all the more grim for the radical difference in length between her left leg and right. The disparity was made up by a proportionate wooden heel, which shuffled and clapped along the floor. Others, healthy in leg if not feeble in mind, lay their hands on the sarcophagus of Saint Anthony.

     But the vast majority of the visitors, pilgrims, rushed with remarkable haste onward, towards the brain of the cathedral. There a queue had formed and people pushed forward impatiently, rising on tip-toes and craning their necks. A child, a veritable cherub, innocent of social manners, wound its way ahead of the rest, its grandmother following in its wake, apologising as she went. It mounted the low steps on hands and knees and then, before the glass case, rose and stretched its arms out, the people parting on either side.

     “Excuse me! Excuse me!” the grandmother said, hastening forward. And, with the words, “Oh, bambino,” on her smiling lips, she hoisted the child up, so it could view what it had so impetuously sought after: A tongue mounted on a pin, like a dried cactus; a jaw, gums intact, teeth the colour of gorgonzola.


Vandalized Swiss Posters

October 18, 2007

 Here are a few images of vandalised Swiss posters. Unfortunately, as soon as they are vandalized, new ones take their place as if by magic.

The Tongue

October 15, 2007

A story of mine, The Tongue, is up at Serindipity. This story previously appeared in Polyphony 5, but the version here is a little bit different (footnotes hovering above the street names). 

The Life of Captain Gareth Caernarvon: Missing Piece

October 14, 2007

The following is a piece of my story The Life of Captain Gareth Caernarvon that was edited out of the version published in McSweeney’s. I don’t think the editor was necessarily wrong in cutting it . . . I really don’t know, as it is hard to have an opinion on what one writes (for me). Anyhow, here it is:

The Life of Captain Gareth Caernarvon: Missing Xth Section

He saw active service in India, in Ashanti, on the Congo, and in Egypt. Most notable however was the part he played in the Anglo-Boer war.

“Hunting Boers is like hunting quail,” he once said. “Man-shooting is the finest sport of all. It’s easy to become infatuated with it. The more you kill the more you want to kill.”

He burned farms, confiscated food, arrested women and children.

The British were being hammered away with artillery and rifle fire. The enemy had Krupp rapid fire howitzers, Vickers-Maxim pom-poms, and a Long Tom.

There was much carnage.

Finally, to Caernarvon’s delight, a number of 12-pounder Armstrong breech loaders arrived to his aid.

“Shell them to blazes!” he cried.

Still however the British were at a decided disadvantage.

“Our boys will have to make a dash for it and take care of those puppies.”     

“We might lose a few men,” Lieutenant Percy Scott ventured.

“It’s all part of the show,” Caernarvon said simply.

. . . a death charge . . . . . .

A number of stretcher-carriers scurried by, their burdens bloody lumps of pounded meat, others snaked their way forward, faces white . . .

He watched in delight the effect of the fire; not only his but the enemy’s as well; as men were blown to bits, as the earth around him became littered with body parts, covered with gobbets of flesh.

An explosion to his right.

“You alright Percy?”

“I believe they have taken off my legs Captain.”

“It does damned well look that way my boy!”

“Yes, I am afraid this will most certainly put an end to my cricket game.”

“Well, pluck up, at least it isn’t raining.”

. . . He despised squeamishness and petty cowardice.

It was a killed-equals-saved-the-trouble-of-going-forward-we-had-jam-and-cocoa-for-dinner sort of day.



Quote of the Day

October 13, 2007

The world moved on, while I wrote boring stories and dreamt of writing boring novels.

—Michael Arlen

Confessions of a Naturalised Englishman