img_1623From Le Sirenuse, a hotel in Positano, Italy, that, in the dark green leather stationary folder, includes a bookmark.  Imagine that.  In a place as beautiful as this, that tiny nudge to pick up a book and read.

Only after I take in the bookmark do I move to its quote from John Steinbeck: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you are gone.”

img_1666This quote is from a 1953 Harper’s Bazaar article, in which Steinbeck also wrote “We went to the Sirenuse, an old family house converted into a first class hotel, spotless and cool, with grape arbors over its outside dining rooms. Every room has its little balcony and looks over the blue sea to the islands of the sirens from which those ladies sang so sweetly.”

I’m here at the Sirenland Writer’s Conference, with Dani Shapiro, Jim Shepard, Peter Cameron, Hannah Tinti, Robin Black, and the sirens–flying high above heads, hovering low around purses and discarded shoes, always singing sweetly.

img_1652Not to mention the climbs up thousands of steps into the small mountain towns for pasta and fagioli from the gardens out back and complimentary homemade liqueurs.  img_1663And then the climb down, in the cooling afternoon, the sun illuminating only a small sliver of the sea.

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