martedì 14 agosto 2018

Review: Patrik Sampler, "The Ocean Container"

“All of my dreams and most of my thoughts happen inside my shipping container – to such an extent I’ve started calling it an ocean container. […] I am not referring to something on the surface of the sea, but something deep within it, and a sense of limitlessness” (p.88).

The Ocean Container starts right from the fall of the curtain, with his protagonist’s physical and mental decline mimicking and epitomizing a moribund fauna in the grip of global pollution. Then, it begins again – from Act I this time. Following the electoral victory of an all-controlling political system quite aptly named Economy, the narrator, a former environmental activist (and an artist, occasionally), is forced into hiding in a green intermodal container in a *safety* (sic!) compound, to wit, a sort of asylum center for homeless people. There he meets all sorts of outcasts, potential spies (among which, most notably, a man with two right eyes!), and vicious thugs. The compound is also visited by a dubious Japanese theatrical society which organizes bizarre exhibitions, butoh workshops, and Noh operas slightly verging towards pornography. A tapir and a white peafowl, both magically out of place and apparently standing for the renewed hope of saving the planet, are soon dispensed with. Distant from his family and furiously daydreaming of AS7’s high life, perhaps his wealthier, luckier alter-ego, the protagonist grows more and more lonely and withdraws into himself up to a point where he finally decides that the outside world simply isn’t worth it and that his dreams and hallucinations are far more significant.

Patrik Sampler is a self-referential writer – to be intended in the best possible sense. Italian avant-garde writer Carlo Dossi, for one, was extremely self-referential. Some of the best writers are. Patrik Sampler’s first novel is the perfect summation of all his passions and obsessions – his concern for the environment, his love of Japan and Japanese theatre in all its forms (Kabuki, Noh, Butoh), the yearning for a free, unconstrained, instinctive language similar to the one spoken by the Emperor in the Noh Opera (remember, he’s one of the guys behind the satirical noise duo Dupobs). Other forms of such self-referentiality are the several references to painters, writers, musicians, and bands (Henri Rousseau, Mishima Yukio, Momus, DAF, The Escalators), brief extracts from other books, and, more generally speaking, a lavish catalogue of plant and animal species. Having read (and translated) Sampler’s short story ‘Kansai Airport’, The Ocean Container also seems to provide the reader with the ultimate version of certain character types and leitmotifs. While the man with the two right eyes in the novel seems to be a more effective replica of the kid 'standing out', the inconsistent ads playing on the bus seat back screen in the story anticipate the ones preceding the Prime Minister’s Address. Likewise, the proud pomposity of a male voice-over promoting Canada as a “land of opportunity” evokes a similar episode in the short story.

Sampler’s erotic-satiric treatment of a country totally devoted to capitalism and consumerism alternates political discourse taken to extremes with typically Japanese fetishes, managing to create a very distinctive mood. The book also seems to tell us something crucial about the human condition and the undeniable necessity to find one’s own deep self. The Ocean Container is a unique specimen. Growing into it may take a bit, but once the charm has had its effect, you’ll feel like reading it over and over again.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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lunedì 23 luglio 2018

Two poems by Massimo Stirneri translated into English by Maurizio Brancaleoni

Massimo Stirneri, 32, lives in Perugia. He writes mainly poetry and prose and also creates visual poems. 
He posts all his works both in English and Italian on his blog:
His poems have also appeared in some American online journals.

The following two poems come from his collection “Varie”, which won the first prize in the prestigious poetry contest “Opera Prima 2017” organized by the website Poesia 2.0 (you can read the book in Italian here).

* All rights reserved. No part of the following translations may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior authorization.*

like the cavity or the slit of a gutter
you wish you could go out get in uncertain blindfold on the wait
to fit out with lost objects, democratic goals
threshold deities able to bite backwards
in the intact house, under the lips other ailments rotate
from the adhering immanence denied at the finale
three times no, as everything is permitted, like hope


of courage every title to speak
because I am like a mother woman
more academic unfortunately. genitive
name inspired by the antidote, fear
is not natural, something induced that they create
the guard that he places, they erode the vice at the end
to protect man from cruelty to a minimum extent
for the punishment of transgression, the profound
significance of the allegations, may they unexpected he prevent
the farsightedness of return a unique dedication
hence may they have the ambit of distribution according
- ça va sans dire – to what comes right and in consecutive order, we shall conclude
not even facing extreme situations, pain be feared
on a par «they will burn them, it continues, and we will
match the gravity of the problem «keep anxiety out of Europe
it seems reality, this - I find - version I'll make myself again
vulnerabilities so deep-seated that they become the signature
of collaboration, levers resting on a low fulcrum
of course. it happens though. either-or at the root
doubly to see some of it again
causing sensation to each other resignedly:
simple contract
of adulthood

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mercoledì 11 luglio 2018

Kafka, "Un medico di campagna" (E-book gratuito)

"Un medico di campagna"
Franz Kafka 
Traduzione di Maurizio Brancaleoni

Tutti i diritti della seguente traduzione sono riservati. È vietata la riproduzione, totale o parziale, in alcuna forma o con qualsiasi mezzo, senza il permesso dell’autore.

Ero in grande difficoltà: mi si prospettava un viaggio urgente; un malato grave mi attendeva in un paese distante dieci miglia; una violenta bufera di neve riempiva il vasto spazio tra me e lui; un carro l’avevo, leggero, a ruote alte, proprio come si addice alle nostre strade di campagna; infagottato nella pelliccia, la borsa degli strumenti in mano, stavo già nel cortile pronto a partire; ma il cavallo mancava, il cavallo. 

Il mio di cavallo, la notte passata, in seguito agli sforzi eccessivi di questo inverno gelido, era morto di stenti; la mia serva correva ora in giro per il paese per farsi dare un cavallo in prestito; ma non c’era speranza, lo sapevo, e sempre più ricoperto di neve, facendomi sempre più immobile, rimanevo lì senza scopo...

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