Two with Pictures: The Singing Bones and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

I’ve been doing some reading for work. Since I teach 7th grade history and English reading for work takes me places it might not take other grown men. Not that I mind. Two strong contenders for actual classroom use this time around. The first is M.T. Anderson’s graphic novel (illustrations by Andrea Offermann) Yvain, The Night of the Lion based on the 12th century French epic … Continue reading Two with Pictures: The Singing Bones and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

This book is perfect for your reading challenge.  Back in the day, when book blogs were still young, there were all sorts of reading challenges going around that this book would have been perfect for. Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Eve Out of Her Ruins is set in the author’s home of Mauritius, an island nation east of Madagascar. Perfect for your Read Around the … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

This is the most pornographic book I’ve read all year. My definition of pornography is probably different from yours.  Pornography offers its viewers a fantasy depiction of something they cannot have, usually a sexual fantasy.  At some point in life, one finds  that Playboy, or Blueboy, or whatever, has been largely replaced with Architectural Digest– pictures of beautiful people give way to pictures of beautiful … Continue reading A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

Murder in Memoriam by Didier Daeninckx

On October 17, 1961, thousands of Algerians took to the streets of Paris in a peaceful demonstration against a curfew that had been imposed only on them.  At the time, Algeria was engaged in a struggle for Independence from France which had long held the nation as a colony. The demonstrators were met with extreme violence from the police who opened fire on them without … Continue reading Murder in Memoriam by Didier Daeninckx

Topology of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet

I love this book. I’m not sure what it’s about. But I do  have five theories. Theory #1:  A murder has taken place.  The narrator describes the crime scene like a detective who does not know which bit of evidence will prove relevant.  So the detective/narrator writes everything down without filtering his senses or his thoughts.  The result appears random the way notes often do. … Continue reading Topology of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The Vagabond by Collete

Colette’s The Vagabond tells a story of backstage life in the music halls of turn of the century Paris.  The narrator/heroine has left a failed marriage and career as a novelist to earn a living performing two shows a night as an actress in French pantomime. The Vagabond works as a backstage novel and as a source of insight into the its author, Colette.  Because … Continue reading The Vagabond by Collete

Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau Translated by Rosamond Lehmann

I confess.  I didn’t get it. If you want some kind of reasonable analysis of Jean Cocteau’s classic 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles you’ll have to look elsewhere.  I’m sure you’ll be able to find lots of intelligent commentary out there, but you’ll find none here. I read the whole thing, which I thought would be a quicker read at just over 130 pages. But it … Continue reading Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau Translated by Rosamond Lehmann

Jealously by Alain Robbe-Grillet

A man suspects his wife is having an affair with his neighbor.  He searches  for proof, for clues, playing the same sequence of events over and over in his mind looking for signs.  When did it begin?  Do they suspect he knows?  How far will the affair go? Alain Robbe-Grillet’s short novel, Jealousy, covers familiar territory– a married woman’s indiscretion with her married neighbor.  But … Continue reading Jealously by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Cheri by Colette

While there is no one to like in Colette’s novel Cheri, there is much to like. Cheri, a young man in his early 20’s, is the spoiled child of wealth.  He has spent the last six years as the kept pet of Lea, the much older lifelong friend of his mother.  Before Cheri was old enough to have affairs, Lea went through a series of … Continue reading Cheri by Colette

A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert

I was surprised by how this book touched me. Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell, Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Heart  tells the story of Félicité , a lifelong servant, and her search for someone to love. Félicité lives a very limited life, only rarely leaving the home of Madame Aubain her employer for over fifty years.  In her youth, Félicité has one great love who abandons her … Continue reading A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert

The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Inspector Maigret is not bothered (dot com.) Someone accuses him of dragging  his feet with the investigation, someone else says the police have arrested the wrong man, another refuses to answer questions… Inspector Maigret simply shrugs his shoulders and moves on like nothing matters anyway.  He’ll solve the crime soon enough. #MaigretIsNotBotheredDotCom. It’s a great state of mind for a noir detective to be in, … Continue reading The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Monthly Maigret #2: The Carter of La Providence by Georges Simenon (Translated from the French by David Coward)

This month’s Maigret seems like an Agatha Christie novel. There, I said it. A glamorous woman is found murdered in a stable near the canal where her wealthy husband’s vacation barge, La Providence, is tied up for the night.  Inspector Maigret soon arrives, determined to find the killer.  His suspects run up and down the social ladder from the barge crews, lock attendants and assorted … Continue reading Monthly Maigret #2: The Carter of La Providence by Georges Simenon (Translated from the French by David Coward)