February 22 and 23, 2016: day 26 and 27 out of 60 day challenge- I meet a writer!

Hello there February,

I was having some coffee and lucky me, I came across a book presentation! A best-selling Irish author, Sinead Moriarty was presenting her new book, “The way we were”. To be honest, I didn’t know who she was, but decided to buy her last book and I got a dedication from the author herself!

Now, do you want to know if I read it? Or if I like it?

Ok, I will try to answer in an honest, April-like way.

I liked a lot her idea of a plot. The father of a happy family decides to take a professional assignment in Africa, gets kidnapped and the family thinks he is dead. They reorganise their lives and then, the father comes back in flesh and blood. What happens next? Aha!

I also liked the way she presents different people’s emotions. It rings so true.

I also loved her dedication at the beginning: ” to all aspiring writers”, it felt so personal!

In any case thank you Sinead 🙂

25242231

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25242231-the-way-we-were

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February 26- The Fairy Gunnmother :-)

 

Dear February,

have you met the fairy Gunnmother? You’d better not, she doesn’t seem a very friendly kind of person. I am talking of course about a character from the book of Daniel Pennac, a book waiting for me to open and finally… read it!

Usually, you read these books at school, but if you have passed them by, it is something rediscovering them as a grown-up (more or less). I read this summer the first of the series, and after all, Daniel Pennac is part of the OULIPO literary circle that I particularly appreciate 🙂

It seems that a dose of suspense, romance and humor is my kind of thing.

I have read the first one, “The Scapegoat”, this summer, and for some reason I did all these irrelevant things (falling in and out of love, and in again, leaving and returning to Paris, … blogging) and I finally come back to the second book.

Benjamin MalaussĂšne is again the main character. Quiet different from Victor Legris that I started to find attractive. Benjamin is not someone who lives with his foster-father after his 30s. Benjamin is foster-father to his younger brothers and sisters. And a scapegoat to people who look for someone to blame. His love life? “Tante” Juliette. No, she is not his aunt. She is a journalist, and someone who finally helps him out a little bit in more than one ways.

Benjamin lives with his family in Belleville, a Parisian neighborhood open to migrants of different origins, and much more than that of course.

The book starts with a murder: an old lady shoots a young policemen without apparent reason.

To be continued…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fairy_Gunmother

February 6- Parisian Mystery and the power of love

Dear February,

so now I know who the murderer is. I got to the last chapter, and even read his confession and motives. The murderer isn’t Victor Legris. Victor is actually the detective. No, the authors didn’t want to confuse us that much.

Of course I am not going to tell you! I wouldn’t ruin it for you in case you decide to read it. It is a great novel if you want to learn about life in Paris at the end of the 19th century. It’s the kind of historical mystery that creates the ambiance of a whole period with such detail that you see a film unfolding as you read.

One funny detail: Victor is entering a cafĂ© where the best Impressionist painters exchange their paintings for food and drinks. The cafĂ© owner is trying to sell Victor a Van Gogh for peanuts, and he praises his work. But Victor doesn’t even see the painting! All he cares about is a mediocre sculpture of Tasha, the girl he is obsessed with.

Is love blind?

File:Vincent Willem van Gogh 128.jpg

February 5- Parisian Mysteries no 3

Hello February,

how many coffees could you drink so that you concentrate without getting nervous? I think that my personal record is 4. And I did concentrate. My project should finish by the end of the week.

What do you mean you don’t care? All you want to know is if Victor Legris is drinking coffee? So now you can only concentrate on Victor’s affaires?

Ok, just because I want your help with Saint Valentine, I will tell you.

Victor prefers tea, because he has been raised in England. And he also drinks alcohol every time he goes to the café. I completely understand him, after all, he is in the middle of a crisis. Either the man who raised him is a murderer or the woman he is falling in love with, Tasha. If you drink coffee in this situation, your nerves get in an impossible state. A cognac might do better.

So, Victor is an intellectual librarian and a part-time journalist, writing the literary column at the “Passe-Partout” journal. He is also a self-appointed detective. Because suspecting people you care about, is motivation enough to start an investigation.

All this to tell you that he hasn’t even kissed Tasha until chapter 9, and there are 14 chapters as a whole. Victor is following her, he is jealous of men who could be potential lovers, in his imagination. She is an artist, a free spirit, and she has a lot of friends among the talented Impressionists in Paris.

Would it be more simple to ask her out?

After all, does he care for Tasha because he suspects her, or he suspects he because he cares for her?

Is he afraid of relationships and he needs to find some huge obstacle between them?

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

February 4b- Parisian Mysteries, no 2

Dear February,

you surely want to know what happened to Victor Legris, the librarian and potential detective/murderer in the “MystĂšre rue des Saint-PĂšres”, I started reading the other day. Ok, I will just give you some hints, because otherwise you might not read it for yourself.

It is the best thing to do after getting a small cold, everyone around is coughing so I sympathize –

Now, Victor, in his 30s, is he my type of guy? Apparently good-looking. He has a bourgeois mistress whose husband is away on business, somewhere is South America. On the other hand, he has been charmed by the red-haired Tasha, who is painting the caricatures at his friend’s journal. A 23-year-old, apparently living by herself and having a lot of success with the opposite sex.

Victor is living at the same place with his associate, an older French-Japanese, Kenji Mori, who keeps secrets, even from Victor. And he seems to have a mysterious past.

In the middle of all this, about three people die, apparently stung by a bee. However, someone is living notes claiming that these deaths are not accidental.

I think that I have some things in common with Victor, so it could have worked out for us.

1. I love books, so he could interest me as a librarian.

2. He is falling in love quiet easy, before getting to know the other person, and his imagination is running wild with him.

3. He likes red-haired women, and I am in a red-hair mood these days.

Now, reasons why we might not hit it well:

a. he is still living with a father figure, and we don’t really know what his associate is up to.

b. He is spending three chapters thinking on Tasha instead of doing something. I am a little bit like this, so we would have to wait until the end of the book to see some action.

c. I don’t know yet if he is the murderer. And no, I am not dating the bad guy.

 

Murder on the Eiffel Tower

 

 

October 15b- An evening with the writer AmĂ©lie Nothomb

Dear October,

this afternoon I went to the “FNAC” in Paris, a store dedicated to culture: books, films, music, … and you find occasionaly artists who present their latest creation in person. Today, it was AmĂ©lie Nothomb, who came to talk around her 23rd novel: PĂ©tronille.

The Belgian author, was impressive, dressed in black. I love her writing style, and it was the first time I saw her in person. Years ago, I watched a French film inspired by one of her novels, situated in Japan: “Fear and Trembling”. It concerned the experience of a young, European girl who takes an internship in a Japanese company. Her superiors give her a hard time, and she finds a way to react that corresponds to the Japanese culture: she decides to stay until the end of the contract, and even thank the people who tried to make her leave.

I am not going to reveal the plot of the latest novel, PĂ©tronille, that I almost finished while I was waiting for the author to start, but I admit I enjoyed her speech as much as the written work: it is fresh, and it brings a point of view with it, that is very personal.

Had I more time, I would have stayed until the end, but I needed to see a friend and missed- this time- the opportunity to engage a conversation, because the author is welcoming interaction with those who read her books.

I will leave you with one of her quotes:

“God isn’t chocolate, he’s the encounter between chocolate and the palate capable of appreciating it.”

Thank you Amélie Nothomb!

http://www.albin-michel.fr/Petronille-EAN=9782226258311

June 28- “Write to Kill” with Daniel Pennac

Dear June,

Saturday was a lazy day, since I needed time to realize yesterday’s miracle: my project passed the first round for a funding! Now, instead of going to the supermarket, cleaning up the house, being a responsible adult, I camped in one of my favorite cafĂ©s with a book.

A novel, one I have started several times, but at first, I wasn’t attracted enough to read it through. “La petite marchande de prose” by Daniel Pennac. Write to Kill, for the english translation, Harvill, 1999. It is the type of book you usually read early in life, but at the time I didn’t feel like it. Then, four years ago, some friends offered me the trilogy this book belongs to. Again, I looked here and there and left them waiting on the bookshelf.

Last summer, as I was working on my novel, for some mysterious reason I took over the first: “Au bonheur des ogres” translated by Ian Monk as The Scapegoat, Harvill Press, 1998, and I loved it! Now, I don’t know the reason for this change. Has my taste evolved? Or is it that Daniel Pennac is close to the OULIPO writers I started to appreciate that led me to it?

I realized that I feel myself at home in his writing: his style is humorous, but he also treats very deep questions with compassion and humanity. And on top of that, there is a mystery to solve. I love suspense!

For the record, the second part of the day involved taking a nap. And I didn’t even wake up early enough to go to a party!

P.S. June, if you want to know about the OULIPO writers check my post on May 15, or ask May to tell you all about it when you next meet 😉

http://www.donquixotebooks.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=4618

Write to Kill, DANIEL PENNAC, IAN MONK