Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolved: Finish the second volume

"Odette" contemplating a New Year's resolution

In the course of things, I don't generally do New Year's Resolutions.  Stopped smoking years ago after several NYR's had failed me.  I did lose 5 pounds last year and kept it off.  And this year I want to finish Proust again.  If I can just get by those damned dull parties.  So onward.

I've been learning a new computer.  Switched from PC to MAC and right now I'm picking up email three different places, and one place just refuses to "Keep as New."  After a day it's gone.  So I've lost a couple of good Proust messages from Google that didn't hang around very long.  Two are linked to this site.

But today I found a  true gem.  Now let's not laugh too hard.  We were all young once, and some of us still are, but not your saintly Odette.  Of a certain age, don't ya know? 

So here in the link below, a young lady has resolved to read Proust, the great existentialist!

Now the question is:  when will she realize that Proust and Sarte don't have a lot in common.  Or do they?  Doctoral thesis anyone?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Proust as sleeping potion

It's a sad commentary when one reads a single page of Proust and falls asleep.   Of course, it was late and I am pretty tired these days from the holiday tasks along with the household tasks, getting regular exercise, writing, editing, more writing, volunteer work for writing orgs, and keeping up with all the newspapers and magazines.  It's a full life.  And oftimes, a tiring one.  Hence, dropping off on poor Proust.  Still at one of the endless receptions.  This time the narrator is afraid that he wasn't REALLY invited.  Silly boy.

References to hidden homosexuality.  Man, were those guys (and girls) ever in the closet.  With the door barred, the lights out, and hiding behind the shoes.  Must have been very stressful.  I was in college before I knew there was such a thing as a lesbian.

So we're off to do a little last minute shopping, totally unlike moi to wait for the ultimate minute.   The older you get, the less clothing, shoes, new furniture, STUFF, you need.  You need more time and a bit of a nap every day.  Hence, Proust. 

My bad!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On Safari and Other Adventures in Blogging

This blog doesn't like my new MAC and it sure doesn't like Safari.  A day wasted in computer hell, and the formatting really stunk.  My most was totally hosed, first with Technorati going crazy and now with the links, etc.  Way too much time debugging stuff, when I could have been reading Proust or even contemplating my navel.  Now to see what this post looks like.

Odette who doesn't want to be a geek or a guru.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for Proust and Proust Bloggers

Bookishness continues his Proust blog. Sue Grafton advises writers to pay attention to minor characters, as Proust does in spades.
Th Cork-lined Room also keeps Proust blogging on a high level:
Moi? I'm organizing for Thanksgiving. Need a Francoise of my own. And one of these days, a cork-lined room.
The Other Odette

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ten pages a day

Actually, ten pages per day of Proust is a fairly ambitious goal, unless one has scads of leisure, and who has that.

I haven't read anything for the past ten or so days. Life intrudes. Lately, while sipping a late afternoon glass of wine, I fall asleep in front of the food channel. When I wake up, I don't know where I am (the living room). How can this be?

Read this:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Guermantes Way

Someone else is slogging through the receptions and dinner parties. Doesn't seem to mind.

I'm getting into the next volume, but not in any serious way. Oh for the days when I could sit down and read War and Peace from cover to cover over the holidays. Why has that become so impossible.

Dunno. Onward.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dissing Proust in Foxborough

This blog presents all opinions, even the anti-Proust.

By the way, I read some more of "Sodom" the other night, and holey-shamoley, there's another Guermantes reception as an alert reader had warned. Although this one with homo-erotic overtones is more interesting than those that went before.

Here is Gemaine Greer in wrath and finery:

The other Odette

Saturday, November 07, 2009

New Proust Blogger

Here is a link to a new Proust blogger. Do we read Proust for fun? Why not? Fun is where you find it, but not usually in 300+ word sentences.

Proust is fun, when the humor or quirky observations strike, and the feeling, such as when the Grandmother dies, is also compelling. Not so, the endless receptions and dinner parties. Maybe they are so long to make them boring like in real life.

When I was a very young bride, my husband's office manager threw exceedingly boring Christmas parties, and we always went, and I tried to find creative reasons to cut out early. The guests were all stodgy middle-aged types and I was 22 for cryin' out loud. We were always told that after we left, "things really got going." I don't think so. Maybe Proust's parties are so long to convey the tediousness and the boredom.

SHOW, DON'T TELL. I get it!

Here is the link:

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Wrong Neurons are crossing the synapses

Everytime I set my fingers to the keyboard this week I do something stupid. I continue to spell Orhan Pamuk's name every which way but right. I tweeted about the wrong guest of honor (Evanovich, not Grafton) at the New England Crimebake, and I answer emails to the wrong people. Is there a screw-up pollen floating about?
Maybe I should just lay off for a few weeks until all the big stuff has come and gone? What fun would that be? But I wouldn't have to make these continual corrections and apologies, mea culpa-ing right and left. So uncool.
I doubt if Proust had these problems, but then he died younger than I am, and I seem to having Senior Days of late. Acting in haste, repenting in haste. No fun in that.
Sorry Sue. Sorry Orhan. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Yes, and I've burnt the pot again that it took 3 days to scour. A bit of inattention to the pears in port wine. The sauce carmelized and burnt before my very eyes, while I stirred the saurkraut. Kind of a yin and yang dinner with Kielbasa and kraut followed by pears poached in port wine. We're that kind of household.

The Museum of Innocence

Complimenting Orhan Pamuk's appearance at the Boston Festival of Books is this upcoming review (mentioning Panuk's close reading of Proust and Proust's influence on Pamuk) from The New York Review of Books.

It would be interesting to write a paper about Proust and Pamuk, but I will leave that to a more scholarly person. Perhaps someone has already.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Why is Everybody Reading Proust?

Well, Proust gets a lot of free PR. Proust and the Squid, How Proust Can Change Your Life--Proust's name in the title of a book is not uncommon.

How many undergraduates read Proust these days? That's when/where I learned about the Narrator. My god, I read parts of Jean Santeuil and all sorts of references. Poulet's Studies in Human Time and ??? I wish I still had the list. Wish I still had my paper. Hmmm. Maybe one more trek through the folders of olde college stuffe.

I doubt that anyone in my writing group has read Proust. Suspect a couple of them may not have even heard of him. But of course, unless you are writing long, long sentences, Proust isn't required for writers. These days, those sentences would be out of favor.

Saturday evening at the Boston Festival of Books, I listened to Orhan Pamuk's address, and tried to think when, except for Proust, I read anything the least bit "literary." Couldn't think of anything going back to The Corrections. That novel, while excellent, did not read as "literary"--think big words and long sentences.

Pamuk, whom I have not read, seemed literary. Maybe literariness is a European thing. Literary Americans? Faulkner was literary. Thomas Wolfe. My mind has gone blank. Who else? Ah, Henry James. Definitely James. The Golden Bowl. Very literary. Is literary a function of writing structure or of subject matter. What makes literary?

Proust is definitely "literary." Here is a link again to a new Proust reading group.

And here's a link to an opinion about the cork-lined room. I notice the author does not have this blog in his sights. Oh well, no matter.

When I climb out from under 2009, I'll read Proust again. Practically salivating. Can't wait to get to the last book, The Past Recaptured, the reward for all that hard reading.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cork-Lined Room

A cork-lined room would be a good thing. For the past week, we've had very somnolent yellow jackets(wasps) buzzing around the ceiling and other lights in our home office. They expired before they could sting anyone. Since the pests seemed to be increasing, we became concerned. An inspection of the exterior of the house revealed wasps coming and going thru the hole where the air conditioning enters the basement.

A call to the condo association brought the extermination 24 hours later. Ye Gods! The yellow jackets had a nest in the furnace room, an inaccessible nest, their own cork-lined room, and were coming into the office because that door is frequently ajar as the cats like to hang out in the furnace room when they need a bit of private time.

So now the room is sealed up until the fumes abate and the wasps are dead. Cats were banned from the office last night which they didn't like. Thisbe was horrified when the "workmen" appeared. She was just relaxing because the houseguests had finally departed. A cat likes her solitude, her own cork-lined room.

I congratulate myself for figuring out the riddle of the wasps, and that we got such fast action. We'll have to block the hole, of course. Always something.

Speaking of cork-lined rooms, a new Proust reading group has started.

Check it out.

The Other Odette

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blogging Proust

Houseguests and projects have prevented my reading and posting, alas! In the meantime, for you Proust addicts, and aren't we all, here are a couple of sites to check out.

Lydia Davis is a renowned and respected translator of Proust and a writer in her own right.

And Creme de Violette has a few words?

And Tom Raymond, on reading Proust:

See! Everyone isn't too caught up in day-to-day stuff to read Proust.

The Other Odette

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slow Reading of Proust

An almost-not-quite-deserted, peaceful place to read Proust, without distractions, without irritations. Maybe an out-of-the-way island. Good food, sun with a few rainy days, a beach, an umbrella, some interesting walks (to ponder what one has read), outdoor cafes for the sunny days, and indoor cafes for the rain. Mybe a haunting street musician. A few people to make up stories about. No shopping, no television, only an immersion in Proust and his milieu. How quickly could one finish the book?

Odette, the other one

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alas, Proust

Somehow, I ended up with multiple projects and endeavors due in the September - November timeframe, and reading has taken a back seat. Poor old Proust. I just loved the beginning of Cities of the Plain, but haven't gotten very far. Such a relief from the Guermantes and their endless dinner parties and all the receptions.

Gourmet, alas, has folded. Very sad. My first and best Gazpacho recipe is from Gourmet 1964. Think about that. The founder, Earl McAusland, has a summer place in Nantucket before the big money moved in. The big noisy money. Nantucket was always a great place to dine, but had little in common with Balbec, except of course, there were always yachts and bicycles, and dunes, and artists. Gee, maybe Nantucket does have something in common with Balbec.

We subscribed to Gourmet until last year. When the economy tanked, it was time for us to scale down our travel, dining out and dining in food budgets, and I noticed that I seldom actually cooked any of the Gourmet recipes. We became Bon Appetit, and Cook's Illustrated folks. In Germany last winter, we ate at obscure country inns and bratwurst on the street in Thuringia. None better.

Tonight, for example, I'm making a ratatouille and Italian sausage pie with a cornmeal crust. Homey, frugal, healthy and ,we hope, tasty. With parsley, basil and thyme and even a tomato from the garden. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, and we were going to celebrate at Coriander in Sharon and discovered it had been sold and turned into an Indian restaurant. We got to Needham for Indian Food. Masala Art. So we're trekking to Providence to Al Forno where the food is always sublime and your waistline and wallet both take a hit.

The last time we were in Paris our big dining splurge was at the Pompidou Centre restaurant, and a fine meal it was. Would Proust approve? What would he think of all those pipes and escalators and the modern art? Proust was a man of his time and I think he would like it. Can you see his quiet, pleasant little smile? Sort of like a psychiatrist's.

Now Gourmet is gone. Before we downsized and moved, I had a twenty-year collection which I parsed for "keep" recipes. I also saved all the Thanksgiving and Christmas and barbecue issues, which actually had stuff you would cook. Or might. Holiday foods that Francois could produce. Does Proust ever mention holidays? Can't recall. Just the summer vacances. Interesting no? Inquiring minds . . .

I'm sorry I haven't read much of anything lately. Can't even keep up with the newspapers (also folding) and the magazines. Life is not what it once was. But then it never is.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reading Proust at the Supermarket?

I see Marcel wandering about, swathed in his great coat and many scarves, totally taken with the amazing choices and total weirdness of the American supermarket. He is smiling, maybe even a bit jolly., not nonplused but rather interested. He is sniffing the coffee, and wondering why the tomatoes have no scent whatsoever. Is he processing an involuntary memory of Francoise's kitchen? Ah, the fragrant odors and the bustle.

The bustle at Trader Joe's is considerable. Would Proust drink "two-buck Chuck?" Who knows?

The other Odette

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Involuntary Memory in Oregon

I, too, find that I buy less and less during travels, and cherish photos and memories more than ever.

When my youngest son was learning (or should I say trying to learn) the French Horn, he practiced a piece called "Variations." His older brother opined that most of the variations were involuntary.

Is involunary memory like that? My Significant Other is writing his memoir of growing up during World War II and especially the days at the end of the war when the Russian army invaded their town and fighting broke out. As he writes and researches the history of the period, more and more memories return. Like going to an old boarded up well and discovering clear potable water. And now the memories come, bringing forth even more memories. It's an amazing experience, even to watch. And there is also the difference in what he remembers and what a younger sister recalls.

I found this blog which mentions memory in Proust, and thought you should read it, too.

It was tempting to call the post, Reading Proust in Oregon

The Other Odette

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remembrance of Crimes Past

This blog received a citation as one of the 100 best blogs about mystery novels. While it is true that I write crime fiction and that I have another blog that frequently discusses writing and the writing life, Reading Proust in Foxborough is unrelated to mystery novels.
Nonetheless, not wishing to give offense, I put the little sticker at the bottom of the blog. Do you think the purveyor of best blogs believes Proust to be a mystery writer? Of course, in his way he is. There is a mystery at the heart of any novel. Are there crimes in the great work? Mostly the crimes careless people wreak upon one another, crimes of the heart, crimes of the ego. crimes of passion, if you will. What book does not contain those crimes?
Maybe someone thinks Foxborough is a prison, like Walpole, our neighboring town.
Remembrance of Crimes Past? I thought so.
Mystified. And a little pleased.
Odette, the other one

Life As Lived By Proust

This blogger has a fascinating take on Marcel's relationship with women, and I think he's right. Consider the Duchess de Guermantes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Onward If Not Upward

Last night at midnight, energized by the latest "Mad Men," and wanting to get to sleep, I picked up Proust.
I can tell that readerwise, Sodom and Gomorrah will be a lot more fun than The Guermantes Way.
Marcel is spying on Charlus and sees him flirting with the tailor Jupien. Marcel realizes that Charlus is gay and a new understanding and realizations cascade through his brain while he continues to watch the two, even sneaking through a passageway so he can overhear them. Bad Marcel! For this we waded through endless pages of boring receptions. Worth the wait!
Of course, at midnight, tired by a long week and the late hour, I only read a few pages. Proust is not an "I sat down at six and didn't stop reading until I closed the book" kind of thriller. No indeedy. One savours Proust. And that little sneak Marcel. What a revelation.
The other Odette

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

OMG! Someone has actually SUMMARIZED Proust!

It was Walter Benjamin. Who knew? Someone must immediately notify the All England Summarize Proust Society.

Odette, feeling frisky

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Reading Proust Practically Everywhere

We must all have returned from our various "Balbecs" and are flexing literary muscles, unused after the summer beach reads.

Here are some fearless Proust readers with literary blogs:

Time to get going on volume 2. After all, I survived (barely) all those receptions and dinner parties at the Guermantes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Paintings in Proust

A blogger with interesting thoughts about painting in Proust. I often try to figure out who "Elstir" was. He had to be one of the painters contemporary to Proust, just as Saens-Saens was likely a stand in for Vintieul. I think I have found the "petite phrase" in one of the violin/piano concertos.

It would be so nice to have time to pursue all these tracks, but daily responsibilities tie me down. Maybe take an Elstir/Vintieul week and just pursue the threads? Lovely.

I wonder if the blogger knows about the book, Paintings in Proust by Eric Karpeles"?

The other Odette

Friday, September 04, 2009

Reading Proust in Paris

This blog is worth its weight in madelines if for no other reason that it helps me find interesting writing, people, other blogs, and one thing always leads to another. Serendipity, that' s what it is.

Here is a blogger reading Proust in Paris and even trying to write like Proust, a challenging experiment.

I would need a long piece of cord or string to find my way back to the subject of my sentence. How many parenthetical phrases can one string together? I noticed Proust's dialogue is stuck in the middle of the paragraph with no quote marks or any of those little grammatical tags that help the reader. You're on your own with Proust.

Read on down into the blog to find some fascinating discussions of writing, and also several beginnings of what has to become a wonderful novel. Yowza!

Sometimes it seems that all the bookstores are closing. In New York City there will be one less place to purchase Proust in the original French. So sad.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Reading Proust on the Train

Reading Proust on the train enabled a young woman to find a literary agent. No wonder I've had no luck in that regard. I read Proust in bed late at night.
I began volume two, but only read a page before drifting off. It will be another long slog until Time Regained, my absolute favorite of all Proust's work.
Maybe you should read Proust on the train.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New England Reads Proust

An alert reader sent information about a Proust reading group at the Boston Athenaeum (private library) and a group of women in Connecticut have formed their own Proust-reading group. This rocks! Is it a movement?

I took Volume II off the shelf. It looks mouse-chewed and terribly worn, and I notice there's a price of $2.00 on the inside cover. Obviously from college days. Scott Montcrieff translation and hard cover. Avanti!

The other Odette

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Respite from Proust

Having finished (enfin) The Guermantes Way, I'm taking a break and finishing some other books languishing on my nightstand. One is Three Trapped Tigers, a cool book about Havana in the 50's right before Castro came to power. I'm almost through A Bright and Guilty Place, a non-fictional account of Los Angeles in the late 20's and early 30's. Corruption to the max.
Very interesting. I'm in the middle of Elmore Leonard's book of short stories, When the Women Come Out to Dance. Isn't that a great title.? Great stories, too. Anyone for baked possum?
I just finished Red Leaves, by Thomas Cook, a novel that will break your heart. I recall a few years ago when the novel was up for an Edgar Award.

Summer is the time for reading, although none of these books could be considered "beach reads." My novel is process now has 65,000 words and starts to look like a real book. I've been at it for a year. Had I been dedicated, I would have finished, but I'm also trying to find agents/publishers for three other novels, so that takes a toll of "free time," as well as all my writing groups and organizations.

It's a full life, Charlie. Who said that? No idea.

Let us imagine Marcel on the beach at Balbec, or in the dining room with his grandmother, or in town with the young girls in flower, or maybe even in Elstir's studio. Long ago, I recall resort hotels like the one in Balbec. One's bottle of wine and bottle of water on the table from previous meals, even one's napkin. Personally, I like a fresh napkin rather often. The same waiter, and pretty soon he knows one's likes and dislikes. Has that way of life vanished? I rather think so.

Everything very proper and even stylized. Last Year at Marienbad and all that jazz. We saw Mr Hulot's Holiday, which ages so well and had that same seaside flavor. I liked it ever so much, even the umpteenth time.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

At Long Last, Fini

I did it! Last night during the rain delay of the Red Sox game against Detroit, I finished The Guermantes Way, finally arriving at the scene where a dying Swann appears and the Guermantes pooh-pooh his problems and fixate on their evening plans. The Duchess, Oriane, runs back inside for the red shoes that will match her dress. The Duc, Basin, is such an upper class twit, and the entire scene is priceless, even worth the endless slog of hundreds of pages through the boring parties and receptions and upper class snobbery.
Proust really knows how to end a scene. I loved it. Now onward to the second volume. I have an ancient (ancien) copy in two volumes. It took me forever to get through the Guermantes. I wavered. I procrastinated. I read two pages per week. I became a Proust slacker. No more.
Of course, posting to the blog has been difficult with so little progress through the great novel.
August 11 is the great turnaround. Enfin!
Delirious with accomplishment,

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Proust would approve

I am so close to the end of the Guermantes book, that I can almost taste it, smell it, definitely feel it. This week for sure I will finish. So long a slog. I could have walked across Spain in the time it has taken to read it. In the summer. Taking two seasons.

Speaking of smelled it, here is the story of a blogger who lost and regained her sense of smell. And the first smell that came back was . . . . but I'll let her tell her Proustian tale of smell regained. Thanks to an alert reader for the link

Thanks to one of my readers for the alert.

We were in Nantucket this week, an island I have visited since my youngest was in diapers. The island has changed and not changed, but the sunlight, the fog, the sweet smell of privet will always remind me where I am. The ferry coming back encountered "ocean swells," but not rough enough for a "Nantucket sleight ride." Google this phrase. It is Melvillian.

It's not at all like Balbec, but there are girls on bicycles and girls walking and money in the air and old boarding houses and restaurants and even artists who have been there since God was a boy. I think that in the old days, Proust would have felt at home there. No grand hotels, but a few classy resorts. Not a European experience, and not even an American experience, but the quintessential New England experience.

The other Odette

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Proustian Summer

No, alas, we aren't traveling to Balbec or wherever. Actually, I always wanted to go to Deauville, and now of course, on to San Sebastian in Spain and the Gehry Guggenheim.

Instead, we are in "staycation" mode, visiting Plymouth and the Plantation and the Mayflower, and the Museum of Science in Boston, making day trips. Blue Man Group is also on the agenda. What do you think Proust would say about Blue Man Group.? Sure ain't the Vinteiul Sontata in Mme. Verdurin's drawing room.

No young girls in flower, although the waitresses at the Plymouth seafood restaurant Cabbyshack were in the same mold, if you move ahead 90 years. Pretty and smiling and athletic-looking. I could see them on their bicycles cycling along the shore.

I tried YET AGAIN to get through the last pages of the Guermantes Way and fell asleep after two pages. This is ridiculous. I'll have to spend an afternoon and not rely on bedtime reading.

Of course Nantucket is a Proustian place, and although it has changed from the ramshackle town I first visited when I was younger, (eeek!), the sunlight and the smell of the hedges and the walk to the beach, even Main Street still hold their familiar sights and patterns. The hedge fund managers and the glitz are welcome to go away, but keep the perfumed hedges. A little seediness is sometimes a good thing. Galveston was always best when it was seedy.

Does anyone take Proust for a beach read? I wouldn't think so. Let me know if YOU do this.

Today is Thisbe's birthday. She has a new mouse and an extra ration of catnip. Wish her nine more years of the wonderful life of a cat in this cat-catering household.

The other Odette

Saturday, July 11, 2009


My old, long down web site was called "Serendipity," probably because as I surfed the web, I found many serendiptious things. Today, browsing through my "favorite" blogs, none of which I read daily, I found this interesting exchange of letters with a big mention of Proust, so go ye forth and click:

Interesting comments about diaries and journals. I have not kept a dairy since 4th grade, and have always envied fellow writers who keep journals. Sometimes, but not often, I keep a travel journal, if the destination is particularly fascinating.

More Birthday Greetings

I just took a gander at a number of blogs purporting to be Proust blogs. Some are abandonned, others have rien to do with Proust, some are in Russian/German. It's a difficult business sorting through "stuff" on the Net. I picked up a hideous virus once, when I unwitting went to a Russian site to look up some song lyrics. Ya can't ever be too careful.

That being said, here's another birthday blog from yesterday.

The cherry caflouti made 8 servings, and 2 are still left. Do I hear it calling my name? Seems like they might have had a caflouti or two at Aunt Leonie's house, don't you think?

I have just GOT to finish The Guermantes Way. Just do it.

Here is a link (you'll have to scroll down) about Proust confronting (or not) his Jewish blood.

The other Odette

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Marcel, Wherever You Are

Maybe in Pere LaChaise, maybe somewhere else. And what a beautiful day (en fin) we have in Foxborough, MA to celebrate the occasion.
I'm making spare ribs on the grill, baked beans, corn on the cob and we'll also enjoy yesterday's cherry caflouti (hey, ya gotta have something French).
I don't know if Francois ever made a caflouti during cherry season. Maybe the family was too la-di-dah. Dunno. We are NOT too la-di-dah.
Happy Birthday, Marcel. Ah to be in the South of France today, perhaps in the hills above Nice or Cannes, perhaps in Normandy or where Proust and his grandmother summered, Balbec. Can't you just smell the briny breeze and see the young girls in flower.
The other Odette

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Summarizing Proust

July is looking good for finding literate Proust blogs. The world has not yet fled to the South of France, the Mediterrean isles, the Hamptons or onto a yacht on Long Island Sound.

What? Quel dommage! You're not going to any of those places? Helas!

When our cat took ill, we had one of those maligned "staycations" with local museums and restaurants benefitting from Chez Odette. Kitty is fine now.

The grad student blogger with a link below has actually Summarized Proust, but not of course, in 15 seconds, that can't be done. Or can it?

Could it happen on Twitter in 142 characters? Want to try?
Odette is feeling very geeky having managed to have her "tweets" show up on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Summer Proust Blogging

Lately, I haven't found many Proust blogs worth reporting on, but here is a young blogger who reads and quotes Proust:

For a wonderful Proust essay read Travel in a Garden (link below). In Foxborough as in the rest of New England, gardens are drying out after the June deluges, unremitting and omnipresent. New England looks like England with so much greenery.


Odette, whose Proust reading has again, alas, fallen on evil days.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Not Lost in Translation

The Baltimore Sun has interesting Proust "stuff." My college French is far too rusty to translate, but once upon a time I could read a bit of Proust in French. Camus and even Sartre were easier, and I even tackled Andre Malraux's Les Conquerants.
As for Proust, one can actually imagine Proust's writing as a medieval manuscript.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Kindle

My birthday present this year, a BIG birthday, by the way, was a KINDLE. I took it to Florida where I went to finish some research on my novel in process. It was so much fun to read on the plane, and so nice not to schlep a half-dozen paperbacks. My great fear is to have a lot of time on my hands and nothing to read. Horrors!

The Kindle is also great for reading in bed. My husband asked, "what is that clicking I hear?" It was me turning pages. Click. click. I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love on my Kindle. I finished the "Italy" or eat section last night. So far the book is very enjoyable. Would I ever love to travel to Italy and eat for weeks on end. That would be a waistline disaster, but the mere thought of it is lovely. I remember two meals in Venice, a few in San Remo, one in Florence . . . but that's another topic.

I have two of the world's best lasagne recipes. Both totally from scratch, of course, but soooo delicious.

Back to the Kindle. What isn't generally known is that for a very cheap price, (15 cents for mine), you can load up your own manuscript to the Kindle, read it, and write comments and put in bookmarks. Mine is in Word. I think that's the most reliable. Anyway, it's incredibly cool, and so useful for a writer not to drag 200 printed pages along.

Love it. Love it. I'll bet some of the 100 novels in my last post are available on the Kindle.

But not Proust. Not yet. Maybe soon.

Have you read these books?

I love lists of books. Just went through the list of Time Magazines All-time 100 Novels (in English from 1923 to the present). I had read about 50 and plan to put a few on my list.

Another blogger's list has Joyce and Proust at the top, as would mine. If you can't quite get into Ulysses, yet, try Joyce's short stories or A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

You owe it to yourself to read widely, greatly, omnivorously.

Right now I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love, and the Tin Roof Blowdown. Both are very good reads.

What are YOU reading?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Would Proust Use a Montblanc fountain pen?

Can't you just see Marcel in a jumble of bedclothes, wearing a quilted dark satin robe with sheets of writing paper littering the bed, and a few cups with a half inch each of a tisane cluttering the night stand? The dark hair, the intense eyes, the pen flashing in a furious scribble. And ink stains. Yes, there would have to be ink stains.

No MAC or PC in sight. How would someone with the sensibilities of Proust write nowadays? Still with pen and ink? Some do, you know. Why do I think Proust wouldn't be technical? Would be have a techno-mentor? I can't even see him driving a car. Would a cell phone be too confusing? Or would he be texting constantly?

Proust in our so-called modern era? Would he . . . . have a kindle? What do you think?

Michael Leddy weighs in on the Montblanc business.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Fun and Dismemberment

Summer Fun and Dismemberment! Boston’s crime writing community is a varied and productive group and those who write about murder and mayhem always have a warped sense of humor. Tonight the New England Chapter of Mystery Writer’s of America are having their wrap up party for the year with good food and company and a program by Lee Loffland who will show how detectives work to solve a very gruesome crime with very little to go on.

Isn’t it interesting to note that the writers always manage to scarf down the comestibles no matter how gruesome the subject matter of the evening’s speaker?

Not the kind of conversation that you would overhear at the Duchesse de Guermantes receptions. No matter how hard Proust tries, these occasions are dull. Or maybe it’s the five hundred pages of description of these receptions and dinner parties that begin to grate of one. Oriane and Palamede are not exactly the F. Scott Fitzgeralds. I think some of the subtleties of social distinction and caste fly right over my head.

Not so with the mystery writers whose congeniality doesn’t include a whit of snobbery.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Remembering John Updike

On Sunday, the Kennedy Library Forums in Boston presented A Tribute to John Updike.

Christopher Lydon introduced the speakers, all writers save Updike's daughter Elizabeth, who is an artist.

Their remembrances were moving and informative and painted a portrait of Updike the man as well as Updike the writer. Always modest and unassuming, Updike is not just renowned for his many novels but also for his poetry, essays, book reviews and even his love of baseball.

He lived North of Boston long enough to become a real New Englander. Nicholson Baker, Dr. Stephen Bergman, Anne Bernays, Elizabeth Updike Cobblah, Charles McGrath and William Pritchard all shared their fond and humorous memories of Updike.

Updike was Pennsylvania's Proust and he produced a vivid chronicle of life in the 50's until the present. Looking at the audience, I was struck, as always by the modest dress of New England's literati, gathered for the occasion looking like nothing so much as drab little sparrows, dressed in brown and gray and black like so many Puritans or Quakers as perhaps their ancestors were.

In spite of what the newspapers and magazines proclaim, there is little sense of style here, because we prefer the life of the mind and appear in a low key rumpled comfort. Very not New York. In fact, one of the speakers noted that Updike thought New York was like a jar of tapeworms, all trying to eat each other. Always quick with an image, he was.

Of course, the greatest honor we can pay Updike, like all authors, is to read his books. Aren't you about ready to have another go at Rabbit Angstrom? I know I am.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Reading Proust In Paris

Sigh. Reading P. in Paris so much more inspiring than here in Foxborough. Actually, I am back at the great work again, trying to finish The Guermantes. Mon Dieu, the drivel about the Guermantes that I've had to plough through, and it has been exceedingly wet to plough, which you understand if, unlike the narrator, you've been involved in farm life.

Nonethless, the end is in sight. I haven't been inspired by any blogs until this one. Ah, Paris and Proust. How sweet it is!

The other Odette

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kiss A Cloud

More Proust readers are popping up. Maybe the hawthornes are in bloom. I have to confess that this is the time of year I most often think of Proust's blooming hedges.
There is a great chain of Proust readers, and when one says adieu to Marcel, another introduces herself. We are all ages and nationalities, and we all love Proust. It's not a religion, exactly, but we all carry the torch.
The other Odette

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reading Proust North of the Border

I don't have the heart to tell this blogger that The Guermantes Way is heavy sledding, so to speak. Right now, I'm reading David Lodge who makes me laugh, and that is a good thing.

Find out what Canadian Lost In Canada has to say about reading Proust

Friday, April 17, 2009

More posts on Proustian Time

Here's another interesting analysis of Proustian time. April is the Proust month, methinks.
Odette, the other one

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Proust and Time and Plato and Einstein and . . .

Every now and then I find a Proust gem that blows my socks off, and that happened today. The post: says what I tried to say in my senior thesis, (eons ago) except the post says it better.

I am humble before such ideas presented in such a lucid way.

Michael Leddy in Orange Crate Art also has Proust goodies today. My cup runneth over.

Now, to finish the damn book. I am so close. Ten days of houseguests does not allow reading anything except recipes and the odd "what to do this week in Foxborough" article.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Interesting Proust Tidbits

Ten days of houseguests does not lend itself to reading Proust or much of anything except the daily paper and lots of recipes.
However, to the rescue, Helena in Australia has come up with a goody bag of Proust minutiae.
Ancestral Voices by JamesLees-Milne (1942 diaries) published 1975 Chatto& Windus London
Page 160
re: Princesse Edmond de Polignac (born Winifred Singer, d 1943)"who knew Proust very well (and said) "he used to take a taxi for ahundred yards, tip the cabman 100 francs for the pleasure of feelinghimself a 'grand seigneur'. This practice got him into trouble."
pp. 195-196
re: Mrs Betty Montgomery"she lent me several books, including Au Bal Avec Marcel Proust byMarthe Bibesco.Mrs Montgomery never met Proust but he sent her his photograph which she showed me.It is of a sleek young waiter wearing a gardenia.
Mrs betty is irritated that Proust has 'come into fashion'. Even this fact 'can't make me drop him.'
pp 211-212:
". . . dined with the princesse de Polignac ... this led to Proust. Our hostess evidently disliked him. She had known him since he was ahandsome young man with melting brown eyes, until his death.It was impossible to endure his company for long at a time.He was touchy and took umbrage at every supposed slight. In fact he detected slights where they were never intended - in a tone, or voice,or look. As a result he would fire off thirty letters to in rapid succession. In France before the first war none but the St. Germain set recognised his gifts.
When the Princess found that there was already a Proust Society in england, only Chez Swann having been published, she was amazed. Proust was either in the depths or the heights, when he would toss money to servants as though it were chicken food. His life was studded with unfulfilled romantic attachments. He never ceased to correspond with the princess, although their periods of intimacy were fitful.She dispelled the rumour that she was the origin of Madame Verdurin bytelling us that when she entertained Proust-lovers in her Kings Road House before 1914 they called themselves for fun by the names ofcharacters in Chez Swann and she was Madame Verdurin.
ppP 272-273
(24th November dinner at Madame de Polignac)"She said that Proust's limited knowledge of England came through Ruskin ...The last time she saw Proust was at a dinner party given for him in Paris. He attended pale and ill, wearing a long sealskin dressing gown down to his ankles.The Duke of Marlborough, who was at the party, was indignant at the informality of his clothes.The Duke had no idea who he was when he was explained to him."
English dukes are not known for literacy or intelligence, even now.
Ah Marcel, what a true individualist.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Translating Proust

Lydia Davis or Scott Montcrieff? I have the old Montcrieff translations. This blogger went for Davis. Both are superb. Which one are you reading?
Last night I read and read. The dinner at the Guermantes goes on for almost as long as the reception at Mme. de Villeparsis. Oh society! The narrator is smitten by the aristocrats. So mannerly, so suave, so je ne sais pas. I do believe they have pulled the wool over Marcel's eyes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Proust and Food

Well-researched article about Proust and Food. I didn't know he spent the last years living on coffee and croissants. Well, there are worse things. Pepsi and French fries? Pizza and beer?
The Other Odette

Monday, March 23, 2009

Proust and Hawthorns

I will have to seek out some blooming hawthorns this spring and revel in their Proustian essence. In the meantime, here is a link with a good Proust reference to England and hawthorns. We have no spring to speak of yet. A few tulips sticking their noses out of the ground, and not much sign of my daffodils yet. If I have anothr bulb disaster, that's it. No more attempts at springtime loveliness for Odette. The forsythia and the rhoddys will have to do.
See the blooming hawthorns. Lovely.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Proust Project

If you're going to be in The Big Apple tomorrow, which, alas, I am not, you can (if tickets are available) take in The Proust Project. I would love to be there, but living near Beantown is not condusive to a quick trip to NYC and all that entails, like trains and a place to spend the night and tickets and, well, you know.
I just returned from Germany and finally have laundry under control, food in the house, everything unpacked and sort of put away, in short, just getting life back together and not up for spontaneous jaunt.
But here's the link. It sounds wonderful:
The Other Odette

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Reading Proust Again

In snowy Foxborough, reading Proust passes the hour before bedtime. So I'm back reading. The endless reception is over. Grandma is dead. Marcel has been stood up by Mlle. Stenmaria. He's dining with St. Loup and there's a big do to about which room, and the Dreyfusards, and St. Loup is being SO attentive with respect to the vicuna cloak of the Prince de Foix and somehow climbing around the room so as now to step on anything. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? If you get my drift. (This is a clean blog.)
This scene in the restaurant is rather bizarre, and to me, the character of St. Loup doesn't really hang together very well.
And the Duchesse invited Marcel to dinner, and he held up the whole meal looking at the paintings of Elstir and the Duke didn't dare disturb him. Also, a little bizarre. Maybe I am having trouble getting back into the book. Everyone seems to behave a little oddly. No, a lot oddly.
Ye gods, I will be so glad when I have read the last 100 pages of the Guermantes Way. The
Duc de Guermantes also does not impress me nor does his ancestory. The snobbism in this part of the text is really pervasive. And the humor has taken flight.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogging Not Proust

I founds a link that this blogger was having Proust Fridays, but I didn't find any. Nonetheless. I thought the blog photos were incredibly cool. Maybe you will too.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Proust Musings

Now and then I still find a good Proust blog post or article. Here is one that I liked.

If Proust lived in New England (an unlikely scenario) he would be muffled in scarves, hats and overcoats this winter (maybe three at a time), because it has been colder than old-Billy-be-danged, and that's pretty cold.

I'm waiting for spring and some blooming hawthornes. Yes!

The other Odette

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogging Proust Again

Some noteworthy Proust blogging this week:

I did not know there was a Proust screen play. Anyone have details?

More on Reading Proust. Or not. Anyone have thoughts on the Amazon Kindle? Seems pretty polarizing. I would love to have one to take to Europe. Saves schlepping all those paperbacks, and the horror, the absolute horror of having to buy English paperbacks in Europe at those godawful prices. Yikes!

Great Quote by Proust and Interesting Blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

They're Still Summarizing Proust

Confession time. I haven't picked up The Guermantes Way for weeks. We went to a discussion of nature writing at Harvard, an inspiring program which led me to pick up a book about the Grand Canyon, called Down Canyon. The writing is excellent. Great verbs. Lots of interesting detail. Proust would approve.

You will love this book! The author is Ann H. Zwinger. What a great read.

And of course I read my writing and cooking mags and three daily papers. The other time suck has been submitting to a novel contest (Amazon) and getting a book out to an agent, along with submissions of short stories and essays to various 'zines. God, this takes a lot of time. And I had to finish my robot fish story. Loved writing it. Francis, you're the greatest.

The craziest thing is, I can't remember whether I actually wrote my cat story or if I just plotted it for ages. Writing in your head or with your fingers, too. How weird.

We were in Washington, DC and I only read the New Yorker. Good stuff. All about John Updike. In many ways, Proust was the Updike of his day. Think about it.

Now I am writing a speech I must give next Wednesday and reading entries in a writing contest. House guest, birthdays, Valentine's Day, lots of cooking, esp. a chocolate panna cotta with Port Wine Ice cream. Yowza!

Did I mention a report to write by Sunday? A full, busy life is a good thing. One has little time to contemplate the economy.


Odette, the other one. And here is the Monte Python link:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Proust and Photography

I finished reading the slim volume about Proust and Photography, Brassai: Proust and the Power of Photography. What a great book! Brassai was a comtemporary of Proust, and he writes in such a lucid manner (hail to the translater, too), and has so many interesting things to say about Proust and his love, nay, his obsession with photographs and of course his obsession with the image. Brassai gives scads of examples and quotes from Proust's writing, not just "Remembrance" but earlier work and non fiction.

I was quite taken with it. Inspired, I read a few more pages of The Guermantes Way and am determined to finish it before the end of February.

Brassai mentions Poulet and Painter and all the old Proust sources I used to be so familiar with. So many years have passed since I was an undergraduate, but a lust for academia has never quite left although the vocabulary and ways of thinking are, well, gone. When I embraced technology in its many modes I left something behind, although academia and technology requite critical thinking and not making a priori assumptions, there is a still a huge difference, and I don't think I could return to academia withhout a great deal of reprogramming of the brain paths, if you will.

Viva Proust and viva photography. Proust leaves one with so many images. Church spires, the sea at Balbec, the dining room, the Duchesse de Guermantes, the hawthorns, the Combray church windows. Endless wonderful images, as crisp as an apple. Thanks, Marcel.

The other Odette

Friday, January 23, 2009

Proust and the New England Winter

By no means have I given up on either Proust or this blog. We had Christmas, company, snow, more snow, and did I mention snow?

Your faithless Odette has been cooking up a storm and also writing, writing, writing. She left Proust for a bit and read Water For Elephants and a Carl Hiaason book, both good. She is working on her robot fish short story and her new novel and also the last novel which an agent is showing some interest in and she needs to make a few changes.

When you open the patient for surgery, so to speak, you always find a diseased gall bladder as well as the appendix, and things proceed from there.

It is a job keeping the birds fed, the Scottish Highland cattle fed with fruit and veggie treats, the cats fed and medicated, food in the house and on the table. We are applying to work the census, visit D.C. and life is just very busy, almost intense.

Proust would understand. I am going to finish the Guermantes book. I really am.

Did I mention snow? And the inauguration? Alas Marcel, I feel so guilty.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Photography In Proust

My mother's Brownie Camera.

Happy New Year or Bonne Annee! Whatever. Forgive for the missing accents. Tooooo lazy.

I've been reading Photography in Proust, a little gem of a book, which I've almost finished. The author, who was a contemporary of Proust, has a lot of interesting things to say about Proust's work, not only Lost Time but other writings.

He makes his point about Proust using photographic techniques and even incorporating photography into his writing to a degree that was unusual at that time.

My mother, who grew up in a small Kansas town in the twenties, always had a Brownie camera, and photographed her friends endlessly. The town of Newton, KS has several excellent photographers who did portraiture. I'm always amazed when I get out those old photos.

The point is that the author is not exaggerating Proust's or the public's interest in photography. Of course Proust was obsessed with all the arts: music and painting above all.

Can't wait to finish the book and get back to Proust, whom I did not finish before 2009. Just have to get beyond The Guermantes Way, my bete noire, as it were.

My bad!

The other Odette