The first time I ever visited a place I’d read about in a travel book was when my family took a holiday in Hong Kong in 1993. I was twelve, and I’d found and read a yellowing edition of Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities only the previous year. In Hong Kong, the inaugural stop on his itinerary, Fleming received a Tiger Balm massage, messed around with chopsticks, played fan-tan in Macau, and discussed the Bretton Woods agreement. Given my age, I could partake in only one of these thrills. I concentrated hard, during my trip, to see if the city felt in any way like Fleming’s Hong Kong, but in vain. Much later,
Longreads for the Lockdown
Doctors, solitude and the stones within us – for fiction about isolation, it has to be Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin.
Plague Diary: March
‘Things have changed without seeking permission.’ A plague diary of this March, by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
‘Our view of the morning’s entertainment was restricted by the width of the door frame.’ Bruce Chatwin writes about his imprisonment during a coup in Benin.
The Leech Barometer
‘A leech bodes this: you will, sooner or later, overflow yourself. ’ Rebecca Giggs on leeches and the borders of the human body.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
‘Her eyes fluttered open and I felt like I was at the edge of the mouth of a cave, with every intention of jumping in.’ For pure escapism, lose yourself in the nineteenth-century Paris of Carmen Maria Machado.