Chiang Kai-shek on the Forbidden City

Originally published in the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel as Forbidden Portrait. In 2016, at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, I saw a black and white photo that didn’t compute at first. The photo featured a portrait of the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-Shek, hung above the Tiananmen gate of the Forbidden City Chiang Kai-shek on the Forbidden City

Argentina Sketches: The Albino Thief

She checked in wearing dark glasses. It didn’t seem weird as she had platinum blond hair and pale skin. I put her in a six-bed dorm. There was only one other guest in there, a Russian woman of twenty-five. Dorms were officially mixed but in practice, we generally kept men and women separate. We hadn’t Argentina Sketches: The Albino Thief

Eyes Wide Shut: Malaparte in China

Originally published in the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel as When Malaparte Met Mao. A former fascist sees only the good in Mao’s China. In 1956 Italian novelist Curzio Malaparte received an invitation to travel to Beijing for a commemoration of the death of writer Lu Xun. Malaparte is most famous for his Eyes Wide Shut: Malaparte in China

Graham Greene Reviews

As a teenager, I read The Comedians and in my twenties The Power and the Glory, The Quiet American and The Human Factor. The Human Factor I read in a hostel in Colombia. In my early thirties, I bought a cheap copy of Our Man in Havana in Argentina. Reading it in Spanish, some of Graham Greene Reviews

China Sketches: BBQ

One of those old guys, hands clasped behind back, pausing every second step to see if there was something to stick his nose into. The way he dressed, grey slacks, polyester polo shirt with sleeveless pullover on top, didn’t indicate money, time abroad, or working in a big company. He had an educated air though. China Sketches: BBQ

The Sultan and the Governor

In Oct 2016 I travelled to North Maluku in Indonesia. Two islands there, Ternate and Tidore, are the most fascinating places I’ve been to in Indonesia. Not exactly tourist hubs, I had some trouble getting around with my basic Indonesian. The main aim was to climb the summits of these two volcanic islands. I managed The Sultan and the Governor

China Sketches: Dalian 2001 skyscraper photo essay

It had passable beaches, a large shipbuilding industry and a lot of impressive skyscrapers; from the top of any of these you could see the port and in the other direction the green hills marking the end of the urban sprawl. At that stage of my life I hadn’t seen Shanghai, Hong Kong or New York. I was overwhelmed by the shiny skyscrapers in Dalian. When I later visited New York, the first museum I went to was the Sky Scraper Museum, my enthusiasm has since waned due to overexposure to tall buildings…