October 15b- An evening with the writer Amélie 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 Amélie Nothomb, who came to talk around her 23rd novel: Pétronille.

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, Pétronille, 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

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April 30- last day

Dear April,

this is our last day: of the month for you, of my stay in my hometown for me.

I decided it was the moment to call the publishing houses I had submitted my novel to. The first two answered they were not interested in my way of writing. Since this was not very encouraging, I went to the old town to swallow it. I looked at the view of the city and the river, to get some inspiration.

Just behind me, two friends in their early twenties, were discussing relationships. Interactions, feelings, priorities, values… The girl wanted respect and a space for her to grow as a person. I was amazed how mature they were, I still had things to learn from them. If my 20-year-old self were there, he wouldn’t be able to follow.

At this point, Alexandre and his mother, my friend A, showed up out of the blue. This meeting contributed to chase away my blues. We all took a photo to commemorate our new haircuts, Alexandre’s and mine. Yes, I had a haircut in my hometown first thing this morning, don’t let Parisians know I prefered a hometown stylist, please!

After that, I decided to call up the other two publishing houses and ask if they had any news for me. They told me my novel is still in the evaluation process, I should get back to them in July. That was more hopeful.

There was a family dinner at my place, and then we watched an old black and white film. The main character, a 17-year-old girl, in love with a slightly older college professor, managed to get him interested in her. She knew what she wanted, and was acting in this direction. The film, produced in the early 1960’s showed a girl who also wanted to study. The professor was going to help her get accepted in the University.

My friend A also got the man she wanted. They might fight as the parents of two babies, but still, they are very close and complementary.

Each one has a quality, highly valued by the other.