Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little (More) Light Reading . . .

I'm finally beginning to move back into more serious reading, savouring Anne Carson's Red Doc> a few pages at a time. I've Tweeted a few favourite passages of that book for #todayspoem, Vicki Zeigler's brilliant Twitter hashtag, and I hope to say more here about it eventually. . .
I've also just started Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, and I have to say that all my lists are in danger of being abandoned, as I'm so tempted to abdicate to an armchair with this clever and entertaining novel that does something experimental and interesting style/structure wise but without taking away from the satisfaction of character development or description of place or intricacies of plot.

For now, though, I'm taking time from the reading for a few minutes to record three recently read novels that I see now are all connected by a theme:
1. Anne Goscinny's Le Banc des Soupirs: a French mystery novel that is literary, stylish, and satisfying in many, many ways. It purports to be a collection of police transcripts recording interviews with a range of characters who have overlapping knowledge about a psychoanalyst who, we soon learn, has killed his wife. While my friend Tanis MacDonald recently complained on Facebook about reading Ian MacEwan's novel Sweet Tooth and  "thinking that I am done with this kind of novel that offers differences in perspective as some kind of mind-blowing are-you-amazed-yet revelation"
 Goscinny avoids this problem by eschewing a narrator. And one of the different perspectives is offered by a deceased rat. Curious now? These literary pleasures AND the fact that I read the novel in French made me feel I was working myself out of the trough of light reading I've been stuck in.

2.  Patricia Barey and Therese Burson. Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats. Charming, very light, but gives a lovely little cultural history in a very particular biography. And even though I'm not a doting cat-lover (I was lent the book by the kind neighbour who cat-sits for us), I was tickled with the word poussiquette. Not sure Aggie (the cat we "inherited" from my daughter will answer to that, but I may just try the sobriquet on her for size. . .

.and 3. Fred Vargas' The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. This one I should have waited 'til we got to France in a few weeks to pick up en français, but when I saw it in translation in Munro's Books, I couldn't resist. If you don't know Vargas' wonderful romans policiers, you are in for such a treat. I've been fascinated by the relationship between Adamsberg and Danglard for quite a few years now, and also fascinated enough by Vargas' style -- there's always at least a hint of magic in her realism, and her Paris and her France are of our day but the past shimmers there as well, particularly in Have Mercy on Us All.  -- that one of these days I'm going to reread the whole series, both in French and in English, just to check out a few things that I keep wondering about. . . .Let me know what you think, would you, if you've already read these or if you get inspired to do so. . . .

By now, you will have guessed that the link between these three works is The French Connection! We're getting ready to travel to Paris (and Bordeaux and the Lot and Rhône-Alpes) in a few weeks, and I do like to extend my travels via my armchair before I get into that airplane seat. How about you? Does armchair travel complement or substitute for your IRL travel? Any recommendations?


  1. Just today I opened a gift from my Toronto sister - Life After Life. I can't wait to get into it!

  2. Oh, you'll have to tell me what you think -- I'm stretching it out, it's so good!