Book Review: Venice

The Travelling Bookbinder: Book review: Venice: The lion, the city and the water, by Cees Nooteboom

Exploring a city through the literature created about it; reading a book review of Venice before planning your trip; lingering over an Aperol Spritz and a guidebook in a grand piazza, absorbing surroundings you’ve only seen in ink….all excellent reasons to add Cees Nooteboom’s writing to your travel library.

In October, The Travelling Bookbinder is leading a Venetian bookart adventure through paper and maps: Personal Geographies. A book such as this layers past history with present preoccupations, inviting anticipation and participation.

Get a sense of arriving in La Serenissima in the fog:

“I press my head to the cold window and see in the distance a grey hint of something that must be a city and which is now visible only as an intensification of nothingness…”

And so the author continues observing, uncovering and imagining, in writing Colin Thubron describes as “…lyrical and densely textured. He is a poet of time and memory.”

We dip into the distilled experience of a man who has visited Venice over a period of fifty-five years. His stories of paintings, boats, architecture and people have been marinaded with the wisdom of age and gilt with the perspective of pure pleasure.

I love how he notices what’s above, below and behind the facades of usual tourist views. And Simone Sassen’s photographs are beautiful.

“Never have I looked at water as much as in this city….it constantly changes colour and form, the epitome of the liquid city, if you are here long enough the shape of the city as it appears on the map becomes a part of your body, a constant opposition of moving water and immobile stone….”

Venice: The lion, the city and the water, by Cees Nooteboom, published by MacLehose, is available from Golden Hare Books, with a special 10% discount using this code bookbinderbookreview24 valid until 11th May 2023.

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