Parlez-vous French Fiction?

I’m not sure why – I’ve never been much of a Francophile – but I’ve been reading a lot of French authors lately. In English, of course – my high school French is pretty rusty. Fortunately, all the titles below are in translation, so you can enjoy them even if you don’t speak a word of French. Though I bet you’ll be surprised by how many words of French you already speak, n’est-ce pas? To prove my point, here’s a little glossary:

“Joie de vivre”: Voilà!: its Zazie, that petite foul-mouthed embodiment of élan vital, her portmanteau in hand as she arrives in Paris to stay with her flaneur uncle Gabriel. Tired of their piquant persiflage, the parrot Laverdure says “Talk, Talk, that’s all that you can do!” Au contraire! Raymond Queneau’s playful pastiche Zazie in the Metro is a madcap tour the city of light through the eyes of an eleven-year-old agent provocateur. And for another delightful Parisian soufflé, try Daniel Pennac’s mysteries featuring the offbeat Malaussène family (try The Fairy Gunmother). Pennac may be already known to you as the creator of the Readers’ Bill of Rights, first featured in his delightfully irreverent Better Than Life.

“Noir”: Georges Gerfault thinks he’s been in a Continue reading “Parlez-vous French Fiction?”

Just for fans of Sex and the City …

All the hype around Carrie Bradshaw and Big hitting the big screen is giving me happy flashbacks to those weekly Sex and the City get togethers — 30 minutes with the TV and another two hours gabbing and laughing with friends. Sure, reruns are on almost every night of the week (or you can reserve the DVDs at the Library), but I seem to need more than that. What will fill that void after I see the movie? A book, perhaps? Here are a few novels I think Sex and the City fans might like; it’s a list for those of us who know it’s more than just the shoesbook cover of how to be single

How to Be Single by Liz Tuccilllo
Julie Jensen embarks on a tour around the world (France! Bali!) to research a book on single women’s experiences in other cultures, while her friends in New York deal with their own singledom. Tuccillo wrote the nonfiction book He’s Just Not That into You and worked on HBO’s Sex and the City.

Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisenberger Continue reading “Just for fans of Sex and the City …”

Staff Favorites: Three novels to try this summer

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozekicover of my year of meats
Documentary filmmaker Jane Tagaki-Little gets her big break when she is assigned to travel the U.S. in search of wholesome beef-eating families for a Japanese TV show, My American Wife, sponsored by a large beef-exporting conglomerate. The show is supposed to encourage more beef consumption in Japanese viewers, but Jane quickly turns the show into her own showcase for quirky but lovable characters (e.g, lesbian vegetarians) and an exposé of the cruelties and unhealthful practices of the meat industry. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, but be warned: you’ll never look at a Continue reading “Staff Favorites: Three novels to try this summer”

Eeeee eee eeee by Tao Lin: A “book review”

Tao Lin was in Seattle a little while back and had some very interesting things to say about our fair city. I think that Tao Lin is the first writer I’ve read who was born the year I graduated from high school. He is the sort of writer who cries out for expressions such as “deadpan” and “tongue-in-cheek” and “ennui” and “slyly disingenuous,” and then pretends he didn’t cry out for those terms at all — someone else must have — and then distract you by hucking a flaming non-sequitur at your face and laughing. Here’s what he wrote in The Stranger about the place I work: 

I was walking near the downtown Seattle Public Library and felt strongly that it was the “center” of everything in Seattle. I went inside the library and my feelings were confirmed. I felt really intelligent and existentially superior while inside Continue reading “Eeeee eee eeee by Tao Lin: A “book review””

Destination Venice

If your interest is piqued by ancient cities with mazes of streets and canals, of hidden plots and secrets, then you must like reading about Venice.

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt begins on January 29. 1996 the day the Fenice Opera is destroyed by fire. Berendt’s citizen interviews reveal the intricacies of customs, society, politics, the city’s decades of decay and preservation. Among them are Archimede Seguro, an aging glassblower who makes 100 vases depicting the fire as viewed from his window only feet away. Berendt learns much about Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, his paramour, whose art collection disappeared in mystery from the home she still inhabited. The inside story of the Palazzo Barbaro (where scenes from Brideshead Revisited were filmed) and so much more brings Venice off the page in a chatty and informative way.

Travel back to the time following the 1527 sacking of Rome, as the wealthy courtesan Fiametta Continue reading “Destination Venice”