Tuesday, August 22, 2006

French letters

My old pal St Caffeine needs a new book to read.

Me, too. But I'm also thinking about my forthcoming trip to France. I like to have holiday reading that reflects my locale. For example, when I was in Italy, I read a collection of essays on the Renaissance in Italy. It was cool reading about Renaissance Florence while I was there.

But I don't usually actually manage to live up to my ambitions. When I was in Norway...I can't remember what I read. I should have brought my copy of Kristin Lavransdatter (the only big Norwegian epic I know).

I could read something like The Longest Day, but on that same trip to Norway my brother read The Naked and the Dead and found it quite disturbing. I don't want to be disturbed. I want to be relaxed. I'd only want to read The Longest Day if it's truly a kind of triumphalist treatment of the D-Day landings that makes the most of its happy ending.

I can't say I've ever really cracked much in the way of French letters. I think I read some Guy de Maupissant short stories in school, but that may well be the limit of my experience with French literature. I did once try a dreary Simone de Beauvoir memoir...and then gave up. And in my teenage years, I read a few romance novels set in France. (So not only were the heroes domineering and utterly unlovable, they were also French. Most unappealing.)

So I'll make the same plea as St Caffeine. Does anybody have any good suggestions of a book to read while vacationing in France?


Anonymous said...

Like I told you Sunday, The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr. This is the most eye opening book I have read in the past several years. It is not light, but not too heavy either. Every Westerner who tries to keep abreast of current affairs must read this or a similar book. Islam is definately not a monolith. VolMom

Sam said...

I like Djinn by Alain Robbe-Grillet. I read it in college, when I was young and more adventurous. My recollection of it was that it was very...French.

St. Caffeine said...

Well, Vol, since you were kind enough to respond to my bleg, I'll try to offer you something.

Unfortunately, the only book I've read in the past year or so that featured France was "The Measure of All Things ..." It's the story of the quest to establish the definitive meter. Turns out they goofed. It might be interesting if you were going to make a north/south trek through all of France.

Some more acclaimed works, though:
1. Suite Fran├žaise. This book has been getting scads of praise.
2. Five Quarters of the Orange. I have not read this book, but she usually writes pretty good stuff (e.g., Chocolat).

Sorry, but that's all I got.