Saturday, January 11, 2014


The word for the day, my dear friends, is embonpoint. Taken from this description of Tinker Bell:

"It was not really a light; it made this light by flashing about so quickly, but when it came to rest for a second you saw it was a fairy, no longer than your hand, but still growing. It was a girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint."

Embonpoint has a lovely meaning, and in my mind, is worth the price of admission. Tink is a sassy little fairy as we know and expect, and I think Disney gave it a go as much as they could in their cartoon, but Barrie describes Tinker Bell as dressed in 'skeletal leaves,' and, 'slightly inclined to embonpoint.'
Read: buxom and bosomy and with a see-through dress. va-va-voom

This is just one of many examples of the differences between Barrie's Peter Pan and the images given us by pop culture.

This soft-bound volume was put out by Borders Books as part of their Classics Series, printed in 2006. They call it the Expanded Edition, as it includes Peter and Wendy, Barrie's own 1911 novelization of his 1904 play, Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grown Up. Just prior to the novel, Barrie penned Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, in 1906. This book also includes one further short story entitled The Blot on Peter Pan, but it isn't much about Pan at all. I think this funny little short story was written in 1926.

Kensington Gardens was fun to read, as it is essentially the Pan origin story. It doesn't tie up all the loose ends, but it does give a pretty complete picture of where Pan came from. There are other little short stories that Barrie wrote about Pan and some of the other characters in the stories, but just these three are included in this book.* It was fun, wild, and as one would expect, a little melancholy. I wonder if Tolkien and some others were inspired by Pan's sadness hidden beneath his joy. There are some distinct similarities between him and the elves of Middle Earth.

Read this book.

* 'Preface to The Coral Island' (1913); 'Captain Hook at Eton' (1927); and 'To the Five: A Dedication' (1928).

Monday, January 6, 2014

home to italy

Home to Italy is novel by Peter Pezzelli and seems to be targeted to the Italian population here in North America; those first and second generation folks who still dream of home. I'm not a second generation Italian, but I do have dreams of Italy. Just not the same ones as Peppi, the protagonist in this story.

Peppi is a first generation Italian who have lived in the US for most of his life, but still remembers his childhood in his family's mill in Abruzzo. In fact he comes from a small village near Sulmona, which is where my wife's family is from. The small village is called Villa San Giuseppe but I don't remember it, and I can't find it on a map so I think we can assume that Pezzelli created this town for the story. It makes sense because Peppi does go to Italy to his little town and they are running a confetti factory. I would have heard of a confetti factory.

Pezzelli hits on all of the points that make Italy a wonderful place: the food, the weather, the people, the food, the gardens, the love of life, the tight family bonds, the history, and the food. Pezzelli takes Peppi on a full circle trip through his life, and all of life's ups and downs, joys and sorrows are visited along the way. This is a feel-good, romantic look at life in Italy and what it is to go home again, presuming one ever can.

Its fun, sweet, poignant, and heartwarming. It was the perfect book to finish out 2013 with, and I just squeaked it in on the 31st. Peter Pezzelli has a hand full of other books listed in backmatter of this one. It looks like the Italian tradition, here in the Americas, is the general theme.

Happy New Year everyone! And thanks to Joe & Fran for the book loan!