Bel Canto review

What makes a good book? If you derive pleasure out of reading it — or if you look back on it afterwards with pleasure? Bel Canto does the latter, but not the former, so I’m very mixed on this one. The words and sentences are as beautiful as I’ve ever read, and Pratchett continues to find […]

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Holterbroek

The city of Zwolle is the juncture for all kinds of villages in the East of the Netherlands, all the villagers drawn to what the big city has and the villages do not: offices, high school, shopping malls, and cinemas. Nine long years I went to what is spoken of as Zwolle’s drain: Holterbroek. The […]

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Remembrance of Earth’s Past review

This is a review about The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End — as it’s one story and reviewing an individual book in this series makes little sense. Science-fiction is best when it confronts big issues, when it sees us from the far-flung high-tech future, and from that distance looks at the things […]

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When Breath Becomes Air review

You’d think the world has enough books from terminal cancer patients, who, in the face of death, try to give us all an urgent message that money and careers don’t matter — but only love does. And how would anyone disagree with those sentiments, taking place in hospitals and bad-news conversations. The message is always […]

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Hengshan & Huaihai Road

Hengshan Road Patrick from Historic Shanghai tells a story about the American School, which was located on Hengshan Road from 1923 to 1941. On its 100th anniversary, some years ago, 6 ‘boys’ and 6 ‘girls’ — now aged in their 80s or 90s — visited the location again in which they had grown up. And […]

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You cannot see yourself

My world is larger than the tight borders of my country — but for long I thought I had an open and unbiased view across them, proudly seeing myself as a world citizen. Yet now I see that term for what it really is: impossible — and I see that the lens I thought to […]

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SIVA/DeTao

That was 9 weeks of teaching at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts & DeTao Academy. Up until the last day, teaching made me feel honored (“Wow, they asked me for this”), but at the same time feel nervous and inadequate (“Who the hell do you think you are, teach branding?”). The students were nice, […]

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Tonglu town

A basketball pitch used for drying crops, an empty clothing factory, a low-tide hydro lake, a Buddist temple among hostels and farms, and koi fish in the river. The village of Tonglu is made of many layers, each concealing something else.

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Press stroke

Search ‘massage’ on Google and you’ll find pictures of beautifully relaxed people. Massaging, as a verb, means ‘to treat flatteringly’. But the Western notion of massage is limited. Chinese massage is different, and its name (按摩Ànmó) more honest: press stroke. We went to a Chinese spa for the latter, but I still had the former […]

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Deniz

I wanted to see how Deniz was doing, the way Facebook quickly allows that. Type in a name, *poof*. But instead, Facebook showed “Remembering Deniz Üzüm”. It was early in the office and the message was abrupt, the way you remove bandage from a wound. Messages of love and goodbye on his profile were over […]

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