Starting Over

Friday, June 16, 2006

Berlin Stories 2

Berlin is a fabulous city. Lots and lots of things to do , easy to get around and a nice place to walk around and look about. Photo's here of Newe Synagoge, Bebelplatz and of course Tor Brandenburg - all geared up for the World Cup!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Peter Wells is a New Zealand film-maker and author. His films include Desperate Remedies and A Death in the Family. His previous books include the short-story collections Dangerous Desires and The Duration of a Kiss, as well as the novel Boy Overboard, and the beautiful and touching memoir, Long Loop Home.

Despite his openly and explicit gay themes Wells has been critically acclaimed in New Zealand and in 2006 was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and film.

Iridescence spans two decades of the Victorian era and shifts from amoral theatrical London to dusty provincial New Zealand. The story centres on Samuel Barton, a 'remittance man' sent out to the colonies with a secret scandal in his past. With him he carries an earring made of fabulous jewels with which he intends to buy his freedom. Iridescence tells the story of this jewel, and that of Samuel Barton - a story of intrigue, sexual shenanigans and deception. Its a lovely, well crafted story with strong believable characters and some delightful twists.

Berlin Stories 1 - Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is usually known as the "Holocaust memorial" but with its focus on only the Jewish Holocaust part of me wonders at the silence around non-Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust which seems present as much in Germany as elsewhere.

Located in the city centre, on a site where the Wall once ran and where Joseph Goebbels bunker was housed during the the Second World War, this 19,000 square metre sea of stones fascinates yet ulitimately disappoints. Conceived as a place of seculsion and silence where one loses oneself in the labyrinths, hesitantly navigating the uneven ground beneath ones feet, in reality its a maze for visiting school-children to play hide and seek.

There is no entrance, no centre, no exit. And nothing to tell you what this sculpture/installation is supposed to mark or represent. Apparently there is in the southeast corner of the memorial, underground, a "place of information". Nothing guides you to this though or alerts you to its presence.

American architect Peter Eisenman conceived his work to be a distressing landscape of memories, an abstraction of horrors that defy all description in words. But in a public space the public seem to treat it as an abstract amusement arcade.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I'm not scared

I'm Not Scared accompanied me to Berlin in my post-birthday travel treat. It seemed somewhat ironic to be reading an Italian author but there you go. Niccolo Ammaniti has written a wondrous story full of suspence, set in a southern Italian hamlet in 1978, from the perspective of a nine year old boy. Exploring a remote delapilated farmhouse Michele Amitrano discovers something that confuses and frightens him and ultimately shatters the innocence of childhood. Where Ammaniti excels is in both keeping a taut grip on narrative tension and in reflecting reality as seen by a child, where the adult world is as a foreign country and the child a traveller ignorant and innocent of its customs and meanings. The story grabs you in a very real way so that even at the end one wonders how much was true and how much fiction. IL PIACERE ROTONDO!