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The Christmas Song Book Tag

December 15, 2019 15 comments

I’ve heard about the Christmas Song Book Tag on Carl’s blog, The Pine-Scented ChroniclesThis book tag was launched by Stephanie, who blogs at Adventures of a Bibliophile. I thought it was a fun book tag and I started to think about my own answers as I was reading Carl’s post. So here they are!

You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch – Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

Mr King, in Calling Mr King by Ronald De Fao. Mr King is a hitman, I can’t say I’m fond of people who kill other people for a living but I really liked Mr King and his quirks.

All I Want for Christmas is You – Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas tree.

I’d love to get the Pléiade edition of Romain Gary’s works but it’s really expensive. It’ll remain a Christmas wish.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

Nicola, in The Essence of the Thing by Madeleine St John. Her companion tells her it’s over and she needs to move out. Heart bruised and battered, she moves on, step by step and learns to be herself again.

As far as non-fiction is concerned, I’d like to point out Of Ashes and Rivers that Runs to the Sea by Marie Munkara. She belongs to the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal children taken away from their families and she tells her journey back to her people.

Santa Clause is coming to town –

a) Which character do you think would be on top of the naughty list?

Fred and George, from the Harry Potter series.

b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?

Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. She’s really nice and the reader is really happy about her coming out of her shell. It’s a great holiday read.

Frosty the Snowman – Which book just melts your heart.

Life Before Us by Romain Gary. It’s the story of an Arab child who’s taken care of by a Jewish old lady. It’s set in Paris, in a popular neighborhood. It’s full of humor and tolerance.

Feliz Navidad – Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

How can I pick only one book that takes place in another country? I read a lot of them. I’ll recommend Skylark by Dezso Kosztolányi. It’ll take you to Hungary before WWI.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy.

Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford. I’m not sure it spreads the Christmas joy in a literal sense but it’s fun and seasonal.

Sleigh Ride – Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest).

I would love to spend the holidays with Walt Longmire, the sheriff of the Absaroka county in Craig Johnson’s crime fiction series. If he’s not available, then I want to spend time with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the character in Louise Penny’s crime fiction series.

Baby it’s Cold Outside – Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold.

I’m strongly against burning books but placed in a situation where I’d have to choose between die of hypothermia and burn books, I hope there would still be a phone book lying around or a dictionary. Then I’d hope to have Fifty Shades of Grey and stuff like that on a nearby shelf.

That’s all, folk! I hope you had fun reading my Christmas Song Book Tag. Since I’d love to read yours, I hope it’ll inspire you to post about it too. 😊

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Figurec by Fabrice Caro – Appearances are deceitful

December 15, 2019 4 comments

Figurec by Fabrice Caro (2006) Not available in English

Figurec is Fabrice Caro’s debut novel. His first love is BD (comics) with an offbeat sense of humor. He has a knack for picturing our world, our quirks and inconsistencies. You’ve heard about him twice this year on this blog, first when I blogged about his BD Zaï, Zaï, Zaï, Zaï and then when I wrote about his latest novel, Le discoursFigurec is a first bridge between his BD and novels, Le discours is more accomplished.

Now the book and how can you sum up a book like Figurec?

The first chapter is an “Act 1, Scene 1” of a theatre play. The second chapter is a man attending a funeral and who thinks:

L’enterrement de Pierre Giroud m’a énormément déçu, c’était une cérémonie sans réelle émotion. D’accord, il y avait du monde, bien plus qu’à celui d’Antoine Mendez, mais tout cela manquait de rythme, de conviction. Même la fille de Pierre Giroud –du moins celle que je supposais être la fille de Pierre Giroud—n’était pas très en verve. Elle hésitait en permanence entre une pudique retenue et des sanglots bruyants de qualité très médiocre. Le résultat était assez caricatural, sans nuances. Pierre Giroud’s funeral was a stark disappointment. It was a ceremony devoid of real emotion. OK, there were a lot of people, a lot more than at Antoine Mendez’s funeral but this one lacked rhythm and conviction. Even Pierre Giroud’s daughter –or at least the one I assumed was Pierre Giroud’s daughter –wasn’t in brilliant form. She was always between modest self-restraint and loud sobs of poor quality. The result was caricatural, without proper nuance.

He watches the funeral as if he were watching and commenting a theatre play or a soccer game.

After this funeral, the narrator goes to diner at his friends Julien and Claire’s place. We learn that he dines with them five times a week but they don’t seem to mind. He likes them but still thinks he’s mooching off them and at the same time bringing entertainment in their otherwise dull marriage. For fun, Julien collects original 45s that were #1 at the Top 50 French chart in the 1980s and his enthusiasm about his latest find is puzzling, but who are we to judge someone else’s passions?

Our narrator also goes to diner at his parents’, a diner that his successful younger brother and lovely girlfriend attend too. His parents worry about him because he won’t settle down and doesn’t seem to grow up. He feels like a failure compared to his brother.

Our narrator is a would-be playwright and the “Act Something / Scene Something” inserted in the novel remind us his attempts at writing his play and his true goal in life.

After the first few pages, the reader feels that they’re spending time with a weird narrator, a sort of loser who attends funeral for fun, takes advantage of his friends, makes his parents believe he’s a writer-to-be when he just bums around. At this stage we think we’re just with a pathetic and nutty character.

Things get strange when a man approaches him at a funeral and asks him whether he belongs to Figurec too. That’s where the off-the-wall story takes you to a parallel world of false pretense where you don’t know who is who and what to think. All this is wrapped up in Caro’s unique brand of humor and talent for alternate universes.

A fun and disconcerting book. Next week I’ll see the theatre version of Zaï, Zaï, Zaï, Zaï and I can’t wait to see how the director translated this BD to the stage.

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