“What makes a man a man? If not dreams, manual labour, the right sweat of the forehead, the desperation of life, then what?”
What was to be a novel with a captivating title, has proved to be a travel diary with a precise old-style banner. The book tells a faithful story about the three weeks of travel spent by the writer in Laos.
We immediately understand how the author is accustomed to taking trips at the end of the world. On the shoulders a light luggage, just three kilos, because the essentials are inside the self. A bit of a dreamer, a little out of the way, looking for a revelation about the meaning of life and plagued by an internal malaise of which perhaps he is not even aware.
We are told about the beauty of a country in transformation, committed to finding the right place in the world, with the “maternal” look of neighboring China. Leaving the bitterness in the mouth, to put it mildly, the stories about the consequences of yesterday’s Vietnam war on today’s Laos. From here the US bombers (headed for Vietnam) unofficially left, and before returning to the base camp they dropped the load of residual bombs on land that had once been uncultivated. Many years later those unexploded bombs produce victims and mutilations, particularly among children.
Running the risk of sounding cliché, we found the author recommendation of compiling a list of ten travel experiences to do before dying very interesting. There is no obligation to forcefully complete the list, but leave something for the next life. We have already begun to draw up our travel list, and we like it.
Valentino De Bernardis, Ciao Mortali, A&B Editrice, Acireale-Roma, 2013