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I’ve been on the roads a lot these two last weeks for work. I wish you could see France in summer, with tourists massively flowing here. I was entertained by watching vehicles from different countries travelling on our highways.

Here’s a “liste à la Prévert” (1) of what I saw

  • Dutch, towing the inevitable caravan.
  • Germans in VW mini-bus – yes, those still exist,
  • Cars with apparently no driver until you realise the driver is actually on the right side,
  • Cars from Poland which make you wonder for how long they’ve been travelling,
  • A car from Estonia, which seemed even farther than Poland,
  • Swiss who forget that there are speed limits in France too,
  • Belgians carrying bikes,
  • A British family in a Jeep with a fabric hood, which looked pretty uncomfortable,
  • Waiting lines full of cheerful families in generally rather dull highway restaurants.
  • People sleeping in tents on rest areas

All this gave a taste of holidays in my last two working weeks. Thanks to all these visitors.

 Now it’s my turn to go. I’ll be mostly offline for the next three weeks, it will depend on hotel WIFI connections.

My suitcase is done and here are the books I’ll take with me:

  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: a novel, by Haruki Murakami.

I’ve already read Kafka on the Shore and I really liked it for the magical things melting in reality and for the Japanese background.

I haven’t read a lot of Japanese literature, except for one Kawabata and one Mishima. I’ve read an article about Akira Yoshimura, I may try to find one of his books.

        Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. First SF in a long time.

I tried to remember what SF books I have read and could only find four : 1984 – fantastic, Brave New World – fantastic (bis), The Ice People – lovely, Dune – boring. All read when I was a teenager. In fact, I think I stopped reading SF after being so bored by Dune. What a silly thing to do, really. OK, maybe I was also influenced by the fact that all SF readers I knew were teenage guys whose may interest in life seemed to be writing computer programs for their scientific calculator. (Or maybe I was the alien in this math oriented class, who knows?). Anyway, we’ll see how I like it, the cover and the text behind look tempting.

           The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst. I have it in English and I hope I won’t miss too much.

I’m still debating with myself about reading Anglophone books. What’s the best solution? Misunderstanding things because I don’t know all the words and innuendos when I read them in English or understanding everything but be tied by the work of the translator when I read a French version? So far I’ve decided it depends on the author – some are more complicated than others – and on my laziness, as reading in French is a lot easier.

 The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler, translated by Boris Vian.

First Chandler. Someone I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I think it’s the first one featuring Philip Marlowe. If it hadn’t been translated by Boris Vian, I would have purchased the English version.

I have no idea of what it is about.    

 In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, by Marcel Proust. My out-of-print French edition has it divided in two volumes, which is convenient. It’s less heavy and it’s less intimidating.

If I remember well, this volume is about the narrator’s relationship with Gilberte Swann and about the time spent in Balbec, the fictionnal name given to the French city of Cabourg. (You can still see the hotel where Proust stayed) I’m looking forward to reading it again now that I’ve lived in Paris and visited Cabourg. I can picture the places better, as I have experienced it for the Paris setting in Swann’s Way. Being older, Proust sounds different and even more powerful.

 I’m not sure I’ll have time to read everything but I couldn’t take less than five books.

(1) “une liste à la Prévert”  is a French expression that means a list of things given with no particular order.

Categories: Opinion
  1. July 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

    We drove through France from Dieppe to Strasbourg in June on our way to the Black Forest – we love driving in France – so much better roads than ours.

    I have read the Proust – Shadow of the Young Girls in Flower, and also the Hollingshurst – I enjoyed the first but not the second!


    • July 31, 2010 at 11:44 am

      You’ve been near Metz, a beautiful city. If you have the opportunity to visit Metz, it’s worth it.

      I like Proust very much for his sense of humour and his vision of Time and memories.

      I’ve never read Hollinghurst, I hope I’ll like the Line of Beauty.


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