It’s strange to have written so little about The Adelphi Project in the past year. Having read 341 books or so (a few more now), and having spent so much time thinking about everything even slightly related, I still seem to forget to bring you along.

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  • I regret that we don’t write the short novels of early 20th century Austria. These astonishing books that are really never about their author. I am going to try to talk you into doing this, soon. We need these, our world needs these, our cultures need these.
  • I am astonished by how much history my brain can absorb and re-weave together into new fabrics to fold beneath the story I am trying to tell. …

I started this project a year ago, end of October 2015, with just the thought that it would be interesting to read all the books in the Biblioteca Adelphi series in order, and since I read quite fast, it would be a few years of reading, and we’d see what we saw.

It became more than that, by the time I wrote about what I was doing, last August, and since then, again, it has taken on a completely new form and shape.

I am still reading the books in order, but a bit slower than I initially thought, as I am delving much deeper into history and context, and a different type of understanding. I’ve been writing about it, but haven’t nailed it, so it hasn’t posted up yet. Sometimes the writing explains itself to me, and the output is in the process. …

Or “Why I am reading 653 books to follow the path of an Italian publishing house”

There are few publishing houses which can make one feel enchanted, and they don’t come along very often. (I’ve ‘met’ two others in my lifetime.) To create such a mystery requires foresight and intent, yet to understand this, what is one to do?

To be enchanted by a catalog, there is no better choice than Biblioteca Adelphi. Eclectic, erudite, expansive — each book explores the great questions of humankind — Who am I? Why am I here? What does it mean to be human? What is my purpose? How did the world come to be? What does it mean to have a god? Is there a god? As well, smaller questions — Should I hate my father? Why is the world trying to kill me? What are other cultures like? …

The Tusty is an old ship. She runs the Aleutian route for the Alaska Marine Highway. She was constructed in 1964, and though she has been refurbished since, a bit, she still has the feel of an old diesel ship. Or I am telling myself stories, because these are the ships I fall in love with, and I fell in love.

The Aleutian route, the Southwest, isn’t run all year. It starts when it starts, in the spring, weather permitting. The route runs out to Dutch Harbor, called Dutch, by the men I meet who live there, and Unalaska, a very poor approximation of the original Aleut word, by no one that I ran in to. …

The stories that came before

I get off the ferry in the relentless drizzle. Again, I had been the only non-local on the boat, eliciting many a sideways glance from the adults and the usual more blatant interest from the small children.

Arriving at the muddy brown port, it was easy to know who the rental car was for. At his nod, I approach the slight man next to the Suburu outback. He looks me up and down, looks at my lack of luggage and says, ‘This is it?’

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The mist swallows the sun and softens the edges

Without waiting for response he continues, ‘There are four spare tires in the back though given how little you weigh and your lack of luggage, “ strong stare, “you’d be hard pressed to blow a tire, but you never know.” And then, “Be careful if you go south, they won’t want you there, but they likely won’t hurt you.” He hands me a Spot GPS with instructions to use it and an admonition: “I’m sure your father would like to recover the body, at least.” …

Yesterday I found a lovely reminiscence by Eric Wilson of his time with Steinbjørn Jacobsen, a Faroese poet, and his experience with the language. Wilson was asked to escort Jacobsen around the United States on a trip. The State Department had invited Jacobsen, thinking that he was a political activist who the US wanted ‘on their side’ in case the Faroese bid for independence from Denmark was successful. (It was successful of a sort. The Faroese voted overwhelmingly for independence and the Danes opted to ignore this.) …

I was recently talking to a friend, scientist and author, about our sense of smell. She is studying how city folk have lost their sense of smell, at least this is her hypothesis. It reminded me of a visit to China where the smells were so strong I would walk outside each morning and vomit in a gutter. It made me laugh so hard that the entire process didn’t work well, but I couldn’t seem to make it stop, not for the weeks that I was there. …

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photo and buckle by

Travels in another america

For five days in February I sit behind the rough stock gates at the rodeo in San Antonio, Texas. I watch the bull riders, the saddle bronc and bareback bronc riders.

I know who supplies the stock, I recognize some of the cattle.I’ve seen some of these cowboys ride before.

I watch the clowns tell the same jokes, every day, every session, every year. I listen to the emcee praise an America where we can come together as one nation and pray to god in a public place. …

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letters to myself

Two weeks before I was married I opened a P.O. box in lower manhattan, near the city office where I would soon wed. I chose the largest size I could, knowing I had no intention to return soon, if ever.

For the first six months of my marriage, I sent myself a post-card every day. The cards themselves were old, gathered over a decade of travel. picked up from the bouquineries, from the ancient french worlds to which I traveled. Old.

Each card has a date, and a word or a sentence. I carried them in my bag, an assorted stack, pre-stamped, and mailed one in the course of the day. Some have fragments of poetry, lines from books or songs, some are just the words that floated by on the street that day. Some I remember with great clarity, most I cannot recall at all. …


eva k. barbarossa

writer. reader.

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