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Joyeux Noël!

December 25, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wish a Merry Christmas to anyone who would intentionally or not land on this blog entry.

 Joyeux Noël à tous.

I hope you’re spending a really nice time for this special moment of the year.

This Christmas is a little bit special to me as Guy and I have decided to give each other virtual gifts. Of course, being both frantic readers, the gifts are books and we’ll read each other’s presents in January. So, now Guy’s discovering with you the four books I selected for him. The challenge was to find books he hadn’t read –forget about 19th Century literature of any Western country, too risky— and that were available in English. (Why, oh why, are most of the French books I imagined giving him either OOP or not translated?) Here is the selection:

Book #1 (Crime fiction): La fée carabine by Daniel Pennac 1987 English title: The Fairy Gunmother

This novel is one of the Malaussène series that Daniel Pennac wrote in 1980s. I’ve read the whole series; they were funny, different, bizarre and gripping. You get attached to the Malaussène family, totally weird, totally moving. Plus the plot is engrossing. A real page turner.

Book #2 (Novel): Le gone du Chaaba by Azouz Begag 1986 English title: Shantytown Kid

Born in 1957, Azouz Begag is French from Algerian parents. He’s a pure product of the French school system. As a kid he lived in a shantytown in the suburbs of Lyon. He went to university, was a brilliant student, started a career as researcher and was even a minister in the first Sarkozy government. Le gone du Chaaba relates his childhood. “Gone” is a word from Lyon to say “Kid”. Don’t use that word anywhere else in France, a gone is a kid from Lyon, that’s it. “Chaaba” was the name of the shantytown.

Book #3 (Theatre): Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard by Marivaux 1730 English title: A Game of Love and Chance

I love this play; I’ve seen it several times. I chose it because it’s typical from the French “esprit” and because it has a wonderful film version, L’Esquive by Abdellatif Kechiche. As Guy loves film-book connection, I wanted to choose at least one book he could then watch. The play is available for free on the kindle.

Book#4 (Comedy): Les carnets du Major Thompson by Pierre Daninos 1954 English title: The Notebooks of Major Thompson

The Major Thompson is a retiree from the British army who served in India before decolonization. He’s now living in France with his French wife. The book consists in the fictional notebooks of this British citizen dealing with the French mores. In 1955, Preston Sturges made it into a film entitled The French, They Are a Funny Race. Personally, this book makes me rock with laughter and I hope Guy will have a lot of fun reading it too. Plus, as Guy’s a British living in a foreign country and I’m French, I thought it was a funny idea.

Voilà. That’s my selection.

Guy, I hope you’ll have a nice time reading these books. I suppose you won’t mind some company, so, if you, reader, are interested in reading one of them, feel free and paste the link to your review in the comment section. I’ll be happy to read the reviews.

PS: A big thank you to my son for the drawing.




Categories: Personal Posts
  1. December 25, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Happy Xmas to me. I thought I was going to get a Romain Gary and a Fred Vargas, so I am surprised. Pennac was on my to-read list, but I hadn’t heard of Shantytown Kid or The Notebooks of Major Thompson, so this will be new territory for me.


    • December 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

      You didn’t get a Romain Gary probably for the same reasons that I didn’t get a Simenon.
      You almost got a Fred Vargas but I knew you’d expect her, so I picked something else.

      I really hope you’ll spend a nice time with these books.


  2. December 25, 2011 at 10:23 am

    It is a funny idea but I’m alos surprised by the choices.
    I like Marivaux’s play a lot the other books I don’t know, the authors yes, but not the books.


    • December 25, 2011 at 11:09 am

      I tried to avoid the obvious. I wanted my selection to be a surprise and well-known classics no matter how good they are, were too risky.


  3. December 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I forgot – Merry Christmas to both ouf you.


    • December 25, 2011 at 11:09 am

      I wish you a Merry Christmas too.


  4. December 25, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I am going to read book one sooner or later too, as I’ve got it here. Not in January though… too many events already.
    Was the idea that you choose French and he chooses English books?


    • December 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Even if Guy hadn’t asked for it, I would have chosen French books. 1) He likes French literature 2) It was easier for me to find books he hadn’t read. I wanted the list to be a surprise; I couldn’t check if he had already read a book or not.


  5. December 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Caroline: I asked that Emma select French books for me as I know there’s good stuff out there that I haven’t tapped. I picked 2 American and 2 British for Emma, and we didn’t want any cross-translation issues.

    I’ve seen an excellent theatre production of The Triumph of Love BTW.


  6. December 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Joyeux Noël à toi, Emma! Hope you and Guy have fun “unwrapping” your virtual presents–sounds like fun. 😀


    • December 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Thanks Richard! I’m sure I’ll have a great time with these books, even if I already know that the James will be difficult.


  7. December 26, 2011 at 11:25 am

    If you want to find out what Guy chose for me, click here


  8. December 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Joyeux noel et bonne nouvelle annee! Je vous souhaite des livres superbes en 2012. How nice to exchange book ideas like this. I was really intrigued to see what you’d pick. I haven’t even heard of any of them but they sound very intriguing. I’m going to see what Guy picked for you now!


    • December 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Un message en français! Chouette!

      You can read some of the books I picked for Guy if you’re curious. I think you’d like the Pennac and the Major Thompson is really funny.


  9. December 26, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Emma. Hope you and yours are enjoying a wonderful Christmas 🙂 How lovely that your son wanted to do something for your blog. A real family enterprise!

    Hope you and Guy have fun with your titles (Washington Square is a good choice.) Choosing titles for fellow readers is always challenging, I think you’re both very brave.


    • December 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks Sarah.
      I think I’ll have fun and I hope I chose well for Guy. (My unconventional choices are a bit risky, I know, but I wanted to surprise him)


  10. December 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!


    • December 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks, I hope you had a great Christmas too.
      With Guy’s virtual gifts, it’s going to be Christmas in January (and probably February) too!


  11. December 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Very interesting choices. What’s the Malaussène series?

    Happy Christmas Emma, slightly late I know, and a very happy New Year.


    • December 29, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      Hi Max,

      I hope you had a nice Christmas too. I’ll wait for New Year’s greetings, it’s bad luck to say it in advance. (Yes, I’m irrational for that kind of things)

      Benjamin Malaussène is the main character of a crime fiction series by Daniel Pennac. It has six volumes:
      – Au bonheur des ogres (The Skapegoat)
      – The Fairy Gunmother (La féee carabine)
      – Write to Kill (La petite marchande de prose)
      – Monsieur Malaussène
      – Des Chrétiens et des Maures
      – Passion Fruit (Aux Fruits de la passion)

      Malaussene works as a professional skapegoat in a department store, that is to say, he’s hired to say it’s his fault when a customer complains. He lives in Belleville (Paris) His family is totally weird and he’s always mixed up in murders in spite of him.
      Pennac is funny : “that dog stinks so much that his scent refuses to follow him; it goes ahead of him”

      And here is the opening of The Fairy Gunmother:
      It was winter over Paris’s Belleville quarter and there were five characters. Six including the sheet of black ice. Or even seven if you count the dog that had gone along with Half Pint to the baker’s. An epileptic dog with his tongue dangling out of the corner of its mouth.


  12. January 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Now Guy has read his first Christmas book, The Fairy Gunmother.
    Here is the review


  1. November 15, 2012 at 12:02 am

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