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