Sunday, December 30, 2007

Proust can change your life

I found a new Proust blogger, and I liked what he (?) had to say.

Can Proust change your life? Time after time. In little ways.

I am always struck dumb by the number of people who are reading and blogger Proust. It's a movement. What an odd kinship we all are.

How cool is that?


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Guermantes Way

A Christmas gift from me to myelf. I finally finished Young Girls in Flower, the Proust book set in Balbec by the sea where Proust first meets Albertine and her friends.

I was touched an amazed at how the last few pages summarized the whole book, with beautiful lyricism about the sea and the girls and how everything came together. One had earned these fantastic passages by reading the preceding pages, and contemplating Albertine's cheecks hundreds of times. It reminded me of the lyrical Kerouac after many tedious pages about the exploits of Dean Moriarty. I wonder if anyone has ever written a thesis about Proust and Kerouac. It won't be moi.

The odd thing is, I have the idee fixe that Albertine looks like a high school friend of mine, and I can't dislodge it, no matter how I try.

Now, on to The Guermantes Way, and long descriptions of the Guermantes humor which I don't think is anything like Saturday Night Live, or Susan Silverman, or Mort Sahl, Shelly Berman, Bill Murray or Blue Man Group.

I ordered the Proust cookbook or whatever it is, not, I assure you, to make truffled pineapple salad but for the whole experience of food in the Belle Epoque. The January edition of Gourmet Magazine is devoted to Southern Food, and noted that Southern Food is the only food genre, so to speak, that the United States has produced. I daresay this excludes Tex Mex which is derivative, and Yankee Cooking which is not, per se, a whole cuisine but a collection of "dishes."

Last night I made crepes stuffed with chicken and mushrooms napped in a Mornay sauce with some white wine added, and let me tell you this is good and it even looked Christmasy with parseley and bits of pimento for the red and green.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Proust Reader

There is a very funny cartoon in this week's New Yorker, the fiction edition, where a man is pointing out his designated Proust reader.

Proust is so big, I am just amazed. Still plogging away at Albertine and Marcel in Balbec. 706 pages into the novel. Savoring. Considering. Contemplating. Wonder what the Proust household was like a holiday time. Was there a Christmas goose? A plump capon? A roast beast. A buche de Noel?

Joyeux Noel, to touts le monde. And pardon my fractured French.


Saturday, December 15, 2007


A link to a blog not Proust, but I loved the discussion of the Italian foods. Yes, cannoli and manicotti and spaghetti and stuffed shells. What's not to love?

The best Italian food I ever tasted was at the SmokeEnders celebration where one of the women who had quit smoking hosted the gang for a bang up homemade Italian meal. Mama mia was it good!

By then I was a backslider and didn't quit for a few more years, but the food was great, even if I was dying to get outside and smoke a cigarette.

Everyone smoking in Atonement, of course. The anti-smokers are bullshit about all the smoking in movies, but that's the way life was and whatchagonnado?

By the way, I am in possession of the world's two best lasagne recipes. Both are a) a lot of work, and b) seriously high cal, but are they ever good.

I am still reading about Albertine and how she pulled the bell after inviting Marcel to her hotel room for the evening. What a tease. He is mystified, having decided apriori that the little "band" had loose morals. He didn't say whether he beat it or whether a servant came or what happened. Obviously he did not kiss and embrace her. This was a funny scene.

Where are the bistros of yesteryear? They have all been ursurped by trattorias and pasta places. This is too bad, as French food is now almost impossible to find. So is German food. The Italians won the food wars. They ordered ziti instead of shells. (Think!)


Friday, December 14, 2007

Is a blog just a public diary?

Inquiring minds want to know. Someone opined that blogging was "thinking in public."

I find the damdest links mentioning Proust. Read down a couple paragraphs and you will find the reference. Proust is renowned throughout the globe. Would he be surprised? The universal is always found in the specific.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hard to Film?

This blogger (?) has posted a list of the most difficult books to convert to film. Guess who is right up there? The movie version of the last volume was great. Who could ever forgot Catherine DeNeuve as Odette? Zowie.

Take a look:

The mother of all links, huh?


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's a Movement!

A fellow-writer told me she was listening to Proust on tape. There’s Proust madness afoot. Cool, huh? I subscribe to a service that puts all Proust references on the net in my mailbox.

The majority of references are in passing, like how the Madeleine made Proust remember, and I just bit into a cupcake and thought about by grandma’s chicken yard. Well, you get the idea.

Other references to all the books, from Proust and the Squid, Madame Proust, to large tomes of critical work about Joyce, Proust and whomever. Extreme literary stuff, parodied by the All England Summarize Proust Contest.

Then there are the Proust bloggers. My favorites are Orange Crate Art and Marcelle Proust. I believe they are both academics.

We have ordinary people who are trying to read or re-read Proust and blogging it occasionally, or habitually like Odette.

Taken together, one thinks the entire world is reading, studying and blogging Proust which is not the case, as one finds out when EYES GLAZE OVER, when the reading and blogging or our narrator is mentioned. Eeeek. A passive sentence.

So anyhow. I have to confess I have been slothful and less than energetic about pursuing Proust lately. Got bogged down with Albertine in Balbec. Onward.

Maybe if I whipped up a recipe of madelines? No? What then?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Henri Bendel's Christmas Window a la Proust

I read that Bendel's had a window "quoting Proust," but Googling around didn't bring up the quote or any additional info. A fellow blogger and fellow writer has unearthed the details.

This is the Proust quote:
"If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time."

The nights this fall have produced some of the most incredible dreams for both my husband and me. Sometimes we tell each other, "we ate pork last night, and pork promotes weird dreams," but the night before it was chicken and last night beef. Two nights ago I dreamt that I was giving my husband detailed instructions about telling our friends they couldn't come for Thanksgiving dinner because I was shipping off to Iraq. Bloody unlikely.

Dream more. Dream all the time. Visions of sugarplums, whatever they are.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Swann in Love: The Comic

You read it here first:--several paragraphs down into the article:

Andrew Smith writes in the Nashua Telegram (New Hampshire)

"It's unlikely that Marcel Proust could even imagine a comic book when he published "Remembrance of Things Past" from 1913-27, much less that his masterpiece would be adapted to one. Come to think of it, it's still pretty hard to imagine today.

But writer/artist Stephane Heuet is doing just that. His latest book in the multivolume adaptation, "Part Three: Swann In Love, Vol. I (of II)," has been released by NBM Publishing ($16.99), and it's just as delightful as its predecessors.

The writing is faithful, taking its time with the dialogue and story progression. And the art, which owes a lot to early 20th-century comic strips (think "Little Nemo" or "Gasoline Alley") is perfectly suited – being both modern (in being comics at all) and nostalgic (in evoking a bygone era).I have to admit part of what impresses me is that Heuet is trying this at all. I can think of few novels that suggest themselves for comics adaptation less. Yet he pulls it off, adding texture to Proust's immortal prose. Comics: They aren't just for Spandex anymore!

Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at capncomics@aol. com or "

What will something think of next? Proust continues to inspire the widest swath of creativity from the Squid to the comics.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Steady Leisurely Pace

That's moi, reading Proust, with only a kinda-sorta self-imposed deadline.

Now the guilt at being such a snail is gone.

One of these days I must listen to the song "Orange Crate Art." When I was a kid I had some orange crates that served as doll beds, nightstands, hidey holes and useful places to store stuff. Do oranges still come in orange crates? Are they plastic now? Inquiring minds want to know.