Friday, August 31, 2007

Proust in Unlikely Places

The Montgomery Advertiser has this to say about Proust:
RAVE: For the donation by William C. Carter of valuable material on the French author Marcel Proust to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Carter, who teaches at UAB, is a renowned Proust scholar and author of what is widely regarded as the definitive biography of the writer. His donation will make UAB the home of one of the world's leading collections of Proust materials.

Will Proust scholars trek to the University of Alabama at Birmingham? Probably. Will someone go to Birmingham, England by mistake? Undoubtedly. One finds Proust and Proust references in unlikely places. Even here, in Foxborough.

I am thinking about changing this blog to the new blogger format.
Today, Friday, is cat blog day, however the cats have not behaved in a blog-worthy manner all week, having been quiet and even sedate. Annie has learned to flick her head to dislodge the hairball medicine that I put on her nose. Whatchagonnado?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is Proust on Vacation, Too?

Not much Proust news this week. Is everyone at Balbec? The Univeristy of Alabama is to receive some important Proust papers. Nice to have them on this side of the pond.

I confess I've dropped the ball the past few nights and have been reading about the Beat Generation in prep for the big Kerouac celebration on Wednesday. Began reading The Poisonwood Bible. New edition of Poets and Writers also littering nightstand.

And I'm working hard on umpteenth revision of my high-tech mystery Festival Madness, gearing up to put the finishing touches on it before approaching editors and agents.

Summer pulls one in various directions, deliciously, but it is hard to stay focused. The garden calls for attention. We have the sweetest ruby throated hummingbirds, and they really like the butterfly weed or whatever the HUGE purple thing that is full of bees and blooms. I have a riot of color, right now, worthy of Monet, but on a greatly reduced scale. Smaller than Swann's garden, small, small, small.

Here's a belligerent view of Proust from a young man. Young, young, young. Ahhhh!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Proust on a Plane?

Here's a link to a blog you might enjoy.

One of my Proust feeds today was a short story that was a cut way above what one normally finds just surfing around. Here is the link: BTW, Proust is mentioned.
Ah California!

I have been reading The Poisonwood Bible the past few days and neglecting Marcel. At my current rate of progress, I'll finish the first of the two long volumes this year. Extrapolating, good work that, from there, it's going to take 2 years to make it through Lost Time. Don't know what I expected, that maybe I would zip right through like it was Robert Parker or Janet Evanovich? No. No. No. Proust is Proust. Dense as a black star. But rewarding. And even wise.




Friday, August 24, 2007

At Long Last, Albertine

We finally meet Albertine, one of the little band who will become a very important person in the narrator's life. He teased and teased and teased until. . . finally it was her, the girl with a name.
Balbec in summertime appears to be an interesting place. Now I think of the south of France and divas emoting on the docks of St. Tropez or campers cheek by jowl along the coast in those really really crowded camping grounds. Nice is nice. The signs for the doggy potties are so cool.

I wonder what Biarritz is like. And then one thinks of Mr. Hulot's Holiday. There's plenty of room for everything and everyone in French summer vacations. Vive Les Vacances!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

An interesting post:

I'm still slogging through volume II. No mention of anything except girls who are not as good as they should be, as they used to say. The naughty bits are still to come.

One has to think about the funeral of Mrs. Astor, so inconveniently held on a Friday afternoon in August when everyone is champing at the bit to go to the Cape and the Islands or one of the Hamptons or wherever the hell it is the billionaires go these day for a late summer weekend. The church was half-empty. Does this tell you something? It should The more things change, the more they stay the same. Whatever. En Francais.


After the Ball is Over

A blogger has just finished Proust's masterpiece.

Last night, wired by some coffee, I read more pages than usual. Dinner, still at Rivebelle, and descriptions of the dining room, the funnel-shaped tea room, the guests, and the narrator in love with. . . what? Love. Hard to say. The late sunlight filtering in. We have that in our dining room at home, too, and it blinds you. Good sunsets, sometimes in the trees beyond the slough. In France, the sun would set over the ocean. Good clouds would produce a prime spectacle.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Mention of Proust

A mere mention of Proust but an assessible essay on Joyce's Ulysses. Since Proust and Joyce are often mentioned in the same breath, read on:

Last night, more of Albertine, although we do not yet know her name. Maybe her last name. The narrator is giddy in love and scheming about ways to meet this woman. The description of the restaurant at Rivebelle (great name that) was interesting, and the summer is obviously winding down with darkness coming earlier, just like here in Foxborough. They dine late, when night has fallen. Good stuff.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Lighter Side of Proust

I found a clip on youtube of the infamous Monty Python summarize Proust contest.

Last night, I read the introduction of Albertine, although we don't know her name yet. Her little band has appeared, causing consternation with their careless ways and slangly speech. Today one would say they were club kids.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Reading Proust

Where I am in the novel:

Marcel is still at Balbec with Robert St. Loup and Bloch. Block's family and the Baron de Charlus have all been introduced.

The weird anti-Semitism makes me uncomfortable. I guess only a modern sensibility would blanche, but the term "Israelite" sounds so odd. Nonetheless, an interesting portrait of Bloch's father, uncle and sisters emerges. Again, I had missed all this humor on previous readings. Must have been hoping to get to the sex and violence parts. Just kidding, ha ha.

Bloch made remarks about having been intimate with Odette, and one doesn't know what to believe, except that it could or could not be true. The narrator cries himself to sleep, a true neurasthenic. Proust is so busy describing all the characters that I don't always understand what Marcel the narrator is feeling about these people and encounters.

And the writer Bergotte--I get no sense of his writing from the way the characters discuss him. Is this a flaw or not?



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Proust on Crystal Meth

Now there's an image! From neurasthenic to. . . . crazed socialite! The mind boggles.

I found this expression in:

Look down as far as the 5th paragraph. I liked this blogger's voice. Getting organized! How do you think Proust organized so much material? Did he have charts and notes? He had no "stickies," no computerized lists of characters. The man was a genius.

It is a little difficult for me to get a fix on the grandmother. She's a little intellectual, very motherly, an anti-snob snob, not exactly petit-bourgeouise, but what else, then? Of course the early descriptions of the Baron de Charlus are amazing. I had fogotten St. Loup was his nephew. Everything and everyone is related. Mon Dieu! How to keep this vast detailed structure in one's head? Probably I have read how he did it and forgotten, being too young in college to worry about trying to keep huge structures in my head. Ah youth, she said.

Boston is the bloggiest town according to today's Globe and here we are blogging and reading Proust in Foxborough. How cool is that?


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Proust Vacation

Mon Dieu! Here I was trekking all over Alaska and up the Inland Passage, and I could have been on a Proust tour. Pricey, but it definitely sounds intriguing. Tempting, so tempting.

Do follow this link.

I read a few more pages about Bloch last night and snobbishness. Not 100% absorbing. But perhaps this was because I was reading Janet Evanovich before I picked up Proust. My tastes are catholic. . . . what can I say?


Friday, August 10, 2007


Another readable post from Marcelle:

I know a number of neurasthenic people. I tend to think of them as low-energy types who should eat more red meat, a suggestion that's never welcomed, since many of them follow the preaching of a few years ago, and boil fish (no fat need apply) and order up the decaf soy latte. Drink high-test coffee and eat a piece of beef once a week, I say. Watch the Sopranos. Get out into the world.

Or not.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Thoughtful Proust Post

I liked this blog entry a lot.

The author says much that needs to be said.

Moi? I am reading Proust for the third time. Slowly. Savoringly.

My other projects: third draft of a crime fiction novel, attempted sales of two other crime fiction novels, plotting of a young adult novel, procrastination in re starting to writing a California 1928 novel. Update of website, long neglected. Tasks for 3 Crime Fiction organization boards. Garden. Cooking. Cats (Friday is cat blog day). An occasional trip into Boston for theater, concert, cuisine, people watching.



Monday, August 06, 2007

Marcelle & Odette are BAAAAACK!

Marcelle Proust is posting again.

I'm so happy that Friday is cat blogging day. Who knew?

I've been away at a class reunion since Thursday, a BIG in terms of years class reunion--on the high plains of Colorado. I did not bite into a hamburger at Crane's Cafe and have the past come back. Ye Gods, what a frightening thought. I did open memory's jar. What is amazing is that we all remember such different things. For example, no one remembered Shirley Brandt singing "Found A Peanut." How could they forget?

We tooled around Denver and took in the new (and old) wings of the DAM (Denver Art Museum). Liebeskind is the architect for the new wing. It soars like a mountain, and I liked it a lot. The Western Art exhibit was great. A couple people missing, but eventually they may correct that. Two nice restaurants, one white tablecloth, the other Mad Greens. Mad Greens had salads that couldn't be beat, and a wine bar and a patio. I don't know if they took notes from the MFA in Boston, but both restaurants are good and even the less expensive is sophisticated. We like that.

A Mexican dinner on the patio Thursday night. You can go home again, but it won't be the same. And you will see everything with new eyes. New eyes are good eyes.

Northern Colorado sure ain't Balbec or Paris or even Boston. But it hath its own charms. Hey, how about Sarkozy vacationing in New Hampshire. Getting a bellyful of the press who don't really care if he wants to be left alone.

Another mention of Proust in this interesting blog. The blogs mentioning our guy Marcel never cease to amaze.

Back to reading Proust tonight.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Duchesse of Guermantes Speaks

Orange Crate Art blogs Proust, too. Still seems like everyone is blogging Proust, even those who admit to never having read him, or pooping out halfway through Swann's Way. That would not, of course, be Orange Crate Art.

Do oranges still come in the kind of crates of yore? I had an orange crate in my room as a kid. Kind of a doll house/nightstand affair. I thought it was cool. Of course I also wore pajamas made out of chicken feed sacks. Chicken feed came in nice muslin prints and in those days items like orange crates and fabric were always recycled. There were no McMansions, and the town banker lived in a house just a little better than everyone else. A new car was the big thing.

The character Bloch has appeared at Balbec. In college, I had a friend very much like Bloch. Life imitating art? His name was Dennis. Bloch is very funny when he accuses he narrator of sucking up to the snobs and aristos. Isn't the Duchesse of piece of work? The thing is, I have heard people talk like that and not very long ago. In the particular is the universal.