Posts in English

Frangipani

I see my grandfather's bones in frangipani tree branches: incautious in their instinct to share, they loll green tongues of leaf, litter the pavement with blossoms where they are trodden, turn banana-skin brown. I see them floating in saucers, stuck in lapels, a third...

Cameras

They were happiest on holiday. It might sound obvious – who isn't happiest in their free time? For them, though, holidays served a more complex need than leisure. On holiday, she came into focus, and he remembered her. Andrew turned the lens, looking at the screen. He...

Los Angeles Nocturne

This is my translation of Xavier Villaurrutia's poem "Nocturno de Los Ángeles" from his collection Nostalgia de la muerte. Villaurutia was an important literary figure in Mexico in the years after the Revolution, a member of the contemporáneos along with Salvador Novo...

Postcard from San Cristobal de las Casas

There's something about mountains, and mountain towns. Natural places to stop, they attract all sorts of runaways and misfits, and people nursing broken hearts. The proximity to nature can be a powerful healer; the sense of lejanía can provide a sense of sanctuary. I...

Postcard from Medellín

I fell for Medellín pretty fast, on the bus in from Manizales. It was the balance it strikes with nature: the way it sits in its ample valley, the buildings climbing the hills to meet the forests and pastures on either side; the parks and tree-lined streets; the...

Book List 2018

My reading last year was shaped by my travels – in Japan and Korea in April and May, and South America in the second half of the year. I was surprised at the paucity of titles on Japan and Korea in English – reflecting, I suppose, white Australians' indifference to...

Movie Diary 26/12/18

Annihilation (2018) – With its obvious debts to Aliens (a military expedition picked off one by one) and Avatar (the purple – in both senses – prettiness of the alien environment), this adheres to Hollywood formula more than Ex Machina, but inflects it in interesting...

Ben’s Big Year – Blast Off and Real Pigeons

Some artists include their effort in their finished work, and we value it, in part, because it was hard to do. Some artists ask a lot of their audience, and we value their work because it's hard to understand. Some – especially in forms, like books for children, that...

Postcard from Seoul

Seoul is like an equation with all the messy working out left in, the false starts, crossed out, taking up half the page. And so, despite the many surface similarities to Tokyo – the organic wend of its streets; the shops and restaurants that reproduce, perfectly,...

Postcard from Kyoto

I wondered if going from Tokyo to Kyoto would be like going from Hanoi to Hoi An: from a working city that pays visitors no special attention to a place, with all the historical trimmings, that exists mainly for tourists. We've found that Kyoto has its own mellow,...

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