Inside Shakespeare & Co.
2011 has passed entirely too quickly, and what a year it’s been! The world has experienced its share of tumult and crises, and for the many, buying holiday gifts will be a stressful experience. Yet it does not have to be so!
Last weekend in Paris, I grumpily agreed to take a bain de foule (literally, a crowd bath) on the Champs-Élyséesto help a friend purchase books for everyone in his family. The Grinch in me wanted to lobby for ordering online, but once at the store, I realized that I’d virtually forgotten the joys of languishing the afternoon away in a bookstore.
“Well, I think it’s male, a great age, unpredictable, it’s diseased, it’s impatient, it’s energetic… that’s it.”
This is how one of my living literary heroes Peter Ackroyd describes London. I’ve just taken an hour-long walk under that city’s ominous gray skies, heavy with the answer to London’s daily mystery: will it rain? And like the cantankerous old man Ackroyd says London is, it would not give an answer.
Also known for not giving answers is Peter Ackroyd himself, who has written many books set in this city, as well as the massive and brilliant London, a Biography. Now he has taken on a three-part history of the city from its inception to the present.
More missing sheep, this time in Tuscany! Call it a panther if it makes you feel better…but we know the truth!
Tuscany Trembling over Big Cat
Phantom Panther Gives Italians Paws for Thought
By Hans-Jürgen Schlamp in Massa Marittima, Italy
The village of Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy.
A large black cat believed to be a panther is stalking the fields and forests of southern Tuscany, striking fear into residents and holidaymakers. Hunters have angered animal rights campaigners by offering to kill it, but the debate is academic — “Bagheera” is running rings around its pursuer.
Believe it or not, people often ask me, “Karen, was Vlad the Impaler really a vampire?” I finally decided to make a trip to Romania and Transylvania to investigate. The next few posts will be about that journey.
We’d set out for the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania from Bucharest in the morning, encountering a tempestuous rainstorm so severe as to be deafening, lashing the vehicle and obscuring our sight. In the brutal rain teaming from a blackened, ominous sky, it became easy to imagine why Bram Stoker set his novel Dracula in this countryside.
For the next week or so I will be lurking around Bucharest and haunting the Carpathian Mountains. If you need me, please send your falcon, note attached, to Bran Castle in Transylvania. I’ll post an immediate reply.