Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Former Soviet Union: The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
Provence: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, La charrette bleue by René Barjavel, Madame de Sévigné and Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp
Moscow: The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
Books, Movies and Beyond: Vietnam
Books, Movies and Beyond: The Wars in Vietnam

Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples

My in-laws just came back from a trip to Naples and the surrounding region. Here are some suggestions I put together for them.

Several chapters of the book “Bourlinguer” (translated in English under the title “Planus”) by the Swiss author Blaise Cendrars are linked to Naples. One excellent chapter, curiously entitled “Genoa”, mixes autobiography and fiction. It describes Cendrars’ childhood in a nice house bordering the more populous neighborhoods of Naples and his escapades with local kids. Virgil’s tomb proved very attractive.



Among the classics, I read « Graziella » by French romantic author Alphonse de Lamartine. The story takes place in Naples and the island of Ischia. It tells the impossible love story between a French aristocrat doing his 19th century grand tour in Italy and the grand-daughter of an Ischia fisherman. A nice and emotional story set in the beautiful bay of Naples.


I also read « Arria Marcella : A Souvenir of Pompeii », a short story by French 19th century author Théophile Gautier. During the day, a young French visitor admires the shape left by a woman in Pompeii’s ashes.  At night, guided by his instincts or an invisible hand in a city that is now alive, he finds Arria Marcella and they become lovers. Dream or reality?


I also recommend Patricia Highsmith’s novel « The Talented Mr. Ripley ». It takes place in part in Ischia Ponte (called Mongibello in the book). Dick, the son from a rich businessman from New-York enjoys an easy life in the Gulf of Naples with his girlfriend Marge. His father sends Tom Ripley to Italy to bring his son back home and to reason. But Tom, seduced by Dick’s lifestyle, forces himself in his life, kills him on a boat and with a little bit of luck and a lot of talent manage to take his identity.


Ischia Ponte

Ischia Ponte


Patricia Highsmith’s novel has been adapted twice as a movie. The most recent under the title « The Talented Mr. Ripley », is great and benefits from an all stars cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The first adaptation, under the title « Plein Soleil » in French and « Purple Noon » in English by René Clément is a very famous movie which launched the career of Alain Delon, one of the most famous French actors. He is playing with Marie Laforêt and the movie also features Romy Schneider’s first appearance on screen, in a brief and uncredited part. In my opinion, the 1960 French movie is better than the later Hollywood version, even if, especially for the ending, it is less faithful to Patricia Highsmith’s story.

Let’s go to Capri for another cult movie: « Le Mépris (Contempt) » by Jean-Luc Godard, based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. I watched the movie, liked it, but without much enthusiasm. Of course Michel Piccoli’s acting, and – let’s admit it – Brigitte Bardot’s curves add a lot to the enjoyment.

And the trailer is excellent:

As a departure from Capri, you can, depending on your taste and your mood, either listen to the French tube from the 60s “Capri, c’est fini..” by Hervé Vilard,

or to Debussy’s Prélude « Les Collines d’Anacapri ».


I am finishing my overview of Naples and its region. On the French Facebook page, Jamba provided a link to webpage including all movies taking place in Naples.

The list includes « The Gold of Naples », « Marriage Italian Style », « Gomorrah » and many others.

Patrick also suggested reading « Rome, Naples and Florence » by French writer Stendhal…For one of my next read.







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