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?”

Ghost Singer as Author

Book cover of As I read a recent Seattle Times review of the traveling production, My Fair Lady, the name Marni Nixon “jumped out” at me. The former Seattlite was playing the non-singing role of Higgins’ mother. What a surprise, she’s still active, I thought. A long time admirer of hers, I wondered what would it be like to dub the singing for famous actresses and never be acknowledged? I then turned to Google and learned that she had been in Seattle in 2006 for signings and a concert related to her book, I Could Have Sung All Night. How did I miss that!

As co-author with Stephen Cole, she has written an engaging account of her childhood, her working relationships with composers and conductors like Bernstein and Stravinsky, her three marriages, and especially her dubbing, Continue reading “Ghost Singer as Author”

Fun with Physics

I wonder how many readers are alive to the fun of physics? Nuclear and quantum physics especially seem so intimidating, but they have stimulated remarkable works of whimsy and creativity, well worth a look—

The New World of Mr. TompkinsAmong the first is George Gamow’s Mr. Tompkins series, originally published before the second world war, and now available in paperback in a compilation called The new world of Mr. Tompkins: George Gamow’s classic Mr. Tompkins in which Mr. Tompkins, a mild-mannered office worker, happens to hear a series of lectures on quantum mechanics, and in his dreams, plays out the stuff of what he’s heard-shrinking to subatomic particle size, demonstrating relativity of motion on his bicycle, and so on.

 Erwin Schrõdinger’s cat paradox is famous in the annals of physics—the cat in a box that cannot be investigated without spoiling the results of the experiment is an example of the nuclear physics difficulty of not being able to measure always changeable variables without changing them in an experiment.  An interesting book about this paradox is Continue reading “Fun with Physics”

The Vampire List, Part 3: From traditional to modern

When people hear the words “vampire story” two authors come to mind — Bram Stoker and Anne Rice. These writers pioneered the world of vampire fiction, with Bram Stoker basically creating it and Anne Rice redefining it into what most readers know today.

But as we’ve proven in previous lists, Stoker and Rice are not the only authors out there leaving a bite mark in fiction. Below you’ll find a few authors in the two remaining categories of our vampire lists. These writers offer everything from traditional, terrifying and gothic tales, to new, creative and really freaky fiction that fans of vampires are sure to love.


These authors take classical themes and traditional concepts and add vampires. Really, what could be cooler than that?

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 …”