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Archive for April 30, 2013

Blog’s birthday: one more chapter

April 30, 2013 34 comments
Les mots sont faits pour scintiller de tout leur éclat. Il n’y a pas de limite concevable à leur agencement parce qu’il n’y a pas de limite à la couleur, à la lumière. Il n’y a pas de mesure à la mesure des mots. Il ne viendrait à l’idée de personne de mettre un frein à la clarté nue de midi en été. Les mots. Silex et diamant. Votre rôle est de fouiller là-dedans à pleine main au petit bonheur. Pourvu que ça rende le son qui est en vous quand vous écrivez.Louis Calaferte. Words are made to scintillate of all their brightness. There is no conceivable limit to their order because there is no limit to colour, to light. There is no measure that measures up with words. Nobody would dream of refraining the raw brightness of light at noon in the summer. Words. Flintstone and diamond. Your role is to dig in there heartily and haphazardly. As long as it gives back the sound that is in you when you write.

Bonheure_LireI find this quote beautiful as it intertwines all sensations with the pleasure of reading and writing. One more chapter is what I say to myself at night when I know I ought to turn off the light but am reluctant to put my book down. When a book is gripping, how can you resist?

One more chapter: Book Around the Corner is three-years-old. I decided to celebrate that milestone with a little book entitled Au Bonheur de lire or To Happiness in Reading. The English translation doesn’t give back the literary reference of the French title. Au Bonheur de lire refers to Au Bonheur des Dames by Zola. (Ladies’ Paradise for you, dear Anglophone readers) It’s a collection of texts about reading and it is split in three parts.

The first one covers childhood memories of hours spent with a book. They are either fake (excerpt from Madame Bovary) or real (Les Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau). The second part describes the pleasure of immersing in someone else’s words and thoughts, and sometimes feel like they’re your own. I was touched by the passage of Septentrion by Louis Calaferte; I’d like to read this book. The third part concentrates on books as an object and the strange relationship we have with our books. This relationship is changing now that we can read on ebooks. (Well, not in France since only 1% of books sold are ebooks, according to a recent article in Télérama)

It was a lovely book, an ode to my favourite hobby, to the blissful hours spent with the words of others. As a coincidence, I read it shortly after watching a fantastic theatre version of Farenheit 451. It was directed by David Géry who has also directed a theatre version of Bartleby. The play was faithful to the book (spectacular fires on scene) and once again it struck me how Bradbury managed to imagine things that are now part of our daily life: music in the ear, huge flat screens, pills. The people who fight against the loss of books were present on scene at the end of the play. They weren’t actors, only avid readers sharing a quote from their favourite book. Very moving and an incredible celebration of literature.

My blog aims at celebrating literature too, at sharing my enthusiasms or my disappointments. I hope it makes you want to try a new writer sometimes. Talking about favourites.

Trevor from The Mookse and the Gripes recently posted his personal Pantheon of writers, based on a simple criterion “after reading one of the books by the author, I had the strong desire to read everything that author had ever written”. I like this criterion because I feel free to leave aside geniuses who don’t speak to me or are interesting but no fun reading, even though I acknowledge their literary worth. So, here is my Pantheon:

  1. Romain Gary. Do I need to say something?
  2. Jane Austen. Under polite and civilized phrases lays a sharp analysis of the society of her time.
  3. Philippe Djian. American in style and French in the characters.
  4. Molière. Laugh was his weapon. Massive destruction of egos in his wake.
  5. Philip Roth. From a character’s daily trivialities to the analysis of our world.
  6. Raymond Chandler. Crime fiction breaking into literary fiction.
  7. Thomas Hardy. Irony and poetry in rural England.
  8. William Somerset Maugham. Leaning on a character’s story to explore the core of mankind.
  9. Emile Zola. Isn’t he almost historical fiction?
  10. Dezső Kosztolányi. Humanity, poetry and description of society all wrapped in one.
  11. Philippe Besson. For his incredible ability to share passion and its forceful wave.
  12. Jim Harrison. For the American dream and his flawed characters.
  13. David Lodge. For his British sense of humour.
  14. Rainer Maria Rilke. Beautiful, soothing and painfully human.
  15. Anne Perry. Excellent series of historical crime fiction in London. She manages to renew herself.
  16. Edith Wharton. Acute perception of the human heart, feminism and both in France and America.
  17. Max Barry. When I read Company, I laughed so hard I decided I wanted to read all of his books.
  18. Antal Szerb Impossible to describe in a few words.
  19. Elizabeth George. Inspector Linley and Barbara Havers are sort of relatives by now.
  20. Steven Saylor. No one resuscitates Rome during the Roman Republic like he does.

Please welcome this billet as a heartfelt thank you for reading, following, commenting, putting up with my typos and misuse of the English language and take it as an opportunity to share your Pantheon in the comments. I’d love to discover the writers who thrill you.

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