Sunday Random Ramblings, Vol.187

by Gio

Hello gorgeous,

it’s Sunday again, and that means it’s time for some more random ramblings. Here we go:

Italian Books

italian books

I’ve always been an avid reader. Books, magazines, blogs, leaflets, posters… you name it. I just can’t resist words. I must read them, wherever they are. The only exception? Italian books.

Maybe it’s because school teachers have a knack for selecting the most boring passages from the most bring books, and try their hardest to make you hate literature, but I always considered Italian authors extremely boring. At the library or bookshops, I always carefully avoided their books.

So, when a few weeks ago, my reader Ema asked me to recommend some Italian books, my mind went blank. After resolving to read more Italian authors in the future, I managed to recall three titles that have really impressed me. I hope you’ll enjoy them too.

Gomorra. Viaggio nell’impero economico e nel sogno di dominio della camorra (Gomorrah. Journey Into The Violent International Empire Of Naples’ Organized Crime System) by Roberto Saviano
This bestseller should be taught in schools all over Italy. It’s an account of what the Camorra, a powerful and violent criminal organization, has done to Naples, the south of Italy, and the rest of the world. Its tentacles reach as far away as Scotland, China, and Somalia. It tells of Naples and its surroundings, an area where there is no work, no money, and no hope. Crime is the only way of life for many people. And it’s killing us all. The Camorra doesn’t only kill those who stand in its way. It is polluting entire territories where rates of deadly illnesses have sky-rocketed. The organization is also involved in construction works, high fashion, illicit drugs, and pretty much everything you can think of. Camorra is literally everywhere. Saviano is now a hunted man who had to leave Italy not to get killed. In this book, he spills everything he knows. He’s not afraid to name names and tell it like it is. Its account is compelling, engaging, tragic, and disturbing. Reading it is like being punched in the face. It’s investigative journalist at its best. Available at Amazon.

Cuore (Heart) by Edmondo De Amicis
This is a classic for children and teens. It was written to encourage appreciation in the younger generations of the newfound Italian national unity (the author had fought in the war), so it is very patriotic and, reading it again now, quite preachy. But I still love it. It’s a fictional diary of an Italian schoolboy, and is full of sad, heroic, and moving stories that will make you cry your eyes out. But it also paints a vivid picture of the urban life in Italy in the second half of the nineteenth century, just after the country was unified. It’s available for free at Project Gutenberg.

Se Questo E’ Un Uomo (If This Is A Man) by Primo Levi
This is the most difficult book I have ever read. No, it is not because it is badly written (although it uses lots of archaic words). It’s because of the horrific (actually, that’s an euphemism) story it tells. Primo Levi was a 25 year old Italian Jew arrested by Italian fascists and deported to Auschwitz. In this book, he shares how he survived in the death camp for ten months. It’s an account of extreme and systematic cruelty, of survival of the fittest, but also of rare acts of friendship. It’s poignant, moving, and utterly heartbreaking. It’s probably the most important book ever written about the Holocaust and one everyone should read. Lest we forget. Available at Amazon.

Have you read any Italian books? If so, what are your favourites?

Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up

warpaintLast Saturday I went to see the Warpaint exhibition at The London College of Fashion. Coinciding with the major retrospective of his work, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A, Warpaint focuses on the makeup looks created, by some of his favourite makeup artists such as Charlotte Tilbury, to showcase his collections on the catwalk. There are three recurring themes: Amplified, where facial features are obscured and exaggerated; Deviated, where make-up goes beyond the traditional areas and covers other parts of the body; and Stripped, where the look is so subtle it intensifies the meaning of the collection.
The exhibition is really small. Just one cozy room where masks featuring some amazing makeup looks are showcased. You can see one on the left. Sorry for the poor quality. I took it with my phone, and the room was quite dark. But it gives you a good idea of what you can expect. The look pictured here was my favourite. Each feather was carefully arranged to follow the contours of the face. It was a little artwork. At the entrance of the gallery, you can also see a video of how the masks were made. It was truly a labour of love.
If you love makeup and happen to be in London, go see it. It’s on till 7 August and free.

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Summer Hair: The Best Products To Help Prevent Damage At the Pool and the Beach – 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic

6 Ways to Treat Dark Circles – Future Derm

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BebeTaian June 14, 2015 - 3:02 pm

I’m glad I read up a little on Alexander’s event, since the title strikes differently in America! In the States (and probably Canada too) ‘savage’ was a term used to excuse genocide of native people. They are ‘savage’, ‘barbarians’, low, less than animals- and therefore, it’s okay to wipe them out if they don’t perform slave labour for us. “Savage Beauty” can happen in any context, really, but adding the term ‘warpaint’, it sounded like a pretty direct reference. But actually, his show looks quite different! So I’m pretty relieved. >D Although, I still have no idea what’s going on in this photo:

I have the book by Levi on my Wishlist now. <3 I always look forward to your book reviews!

Gio June 15, 2015 - 7:35 am

Bebetaian, you know I hadn’t found of that at all. Those words don’t really have any bad connotations here. But it’s interesting to know how different words can have such different interpretations in different countries. If they ever bring the exhibition to the US, they would do well to call it something else probably.

That ‘s such a weird look, isn’t it? Apparently the makeup artist wanted to create an overtly sexualized appearance similar to that of a sex doll. He was inspired by clowns and ’40s Hollywood divas such as Joan Crawford. At least that’s what my brochure says. 🙂

I hope you enjoy Levi’s book. It’s a masterpiece, even though it completely breaks your heart.

Ana June 14, 2015 - 4:36 pm

I can’t recall the name of an Italian book I loved as a child.
I think it’s “Fra…” something.
It’s about a friar in an Italian village and it’s like a collection of short comedic stories that tell the story of the village (after/during WW2?) and his “hate”, but really friendship with a communist rebel (?) leader.

Is the situation really that bad in Naples?
Tourist agencies/pop culture paint a romantic picture, but when I wanted to go there everyone, and I mean everyone, including the tourist guides said something along the lines: don’t go alone, follow your group, don’t venture into any side streets; it scared me, definitely 😐 .

Gio June 15, 2015 - 7:51 am

Ana, is it Don Camillo e Peppone? I haven’t read the books, but saw the movies a thousand times. They are old, but still very popular in Italy.

It depends where you go. Some areas are safe, even on your own. There are great people, great food, great weather, great sights. They have a lot to offer. You only have to be wary of scams, like taxi drivers charging you more because you’re foreigner or stall sellers handing you a box full of stones rather than whatever you thought were purchasing. But I think this kind of thing happens everywhere.

And then there are other areas that are completely lawless. You don’t want to go there. They’re dangerous, even in groups. Even the police doesn’t dare to go there.

In any case, don’t believe the romantic image agencies paint of Italy. Yes, there are many romantic places all over the country, but the dolce vita is just a myth.

Ana June 21, 2015 - 4:17 pm

Yes, it is Don Camillo! Thanks 🙂 !

Gio June 21, 2015 - 5:21 pm

You’re welcome. 🙂

Annette June 16, 2015 - 10:12 pm

I saw the film Gomorrah (from 2008) at the cinema with my husband and we were shocked. We knew there was crime in Italy (like everywhere) but we never expected to see Italy like that. Obviously the images we get are of places like Tuscany, Rome, Venice etc.

Gio June 17, 2015 - 7:00 am

Annette, I can imagine. There were some things in that book/movie that shocked me too, and I’ve known about Camorra all my life. I’s so tragic and horrific what is happening there and appalling that noone is seriously fighting it. *sighs* Definitely not the image of Italy everyone knows or wants to see.

Marina (Makeup4all) June 17, 2015 - 11:50 am

What about Umberto Eco?

Gio June 17, 2015 - 2:26 pm

Marina, I haven’t read much from him, but all my friends who did say his works are really good.

Marina (Makeup4all) June 18, 2015 - 8:14 pm

He’s just the first Italian author that comes to mind 🙂

Gio June 19, 2015 - 1:57 pm

I guess that’s true for foreigners. He’s certainly very famous all over the world. But I was never that much interested in him tbh. May have to remedy that. 🙂

Marina (Makeup4all) June 23, 2015 - 1:13 pm

I guess that is because I did culture studies at uni – to he is an important author for me 🙂

Gio June 23, 2015 - 5:51 pm

Marina, what a fascinating field of study!

Marina (Makeup4all) June 23, 2015 - 9:06 pm

I’ve meant *so not to in my previous comment, just noticed that. Oh, yes, that was great!

Gio June 24, 2015 - 11:04 am

No worries. 🙂


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