Friday, September 16, 2016

New to Paris? Bloom Where You Are Planted

Paris is glorious. But daunting. 
Especially for trailing spouses who must find a way to integrate in their new home, often without the benefit of working papers.
Bloom Where You Are Planted has been helping new arrivals to get situated and meet friends for years.
If you are new to Paris, or just looking to update your network, Bloom is holding its annual Fall event Saturday, 8 October, 2016.

Highly Recommended.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saddened to Announce Death of Honor and Courage Among Writers

In another grievous blow to the tradition of freedom of expression in 21st century Western Democracies, we are saddened to announce the death of honor in former writers Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi.

In "declining to attend" the PEN gala honoring slain French journalists at Charlie Hébdo, the snubbing writers join fashionable Garry Trudeau and Vice Chancellor Patrick Johnston of Queens University in supporting censorship by Islamists in the name of "free speech but only in so far as it doesn't offend anyone".

It is to be noted in the wake of the massacre of Charlie Hébdo writers and cartoonists in Paris that the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword" is a metaphor, not a military fact. 

As a result, numerous writers, bloggers, cartoonists, journalists, free thinkers, secularists, and "apostates"  have been shot, decapitated, hacked to death, imprisoned or sentenced to death for a difference of opinion, a joke, a heretical belief or some other thought crime by people with guns and swords and explosive belts, and clubs, most of whom, ironically, have never read the writers they are murdering. 

Burial will take place in the press and on social media.

The cause of death is not know, though cowardice or a dangerous addiction to fashion have been named as suspects.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In a new language, you can be a new person, says polyglot French author

Polyglot French author, Marie Houzelle, talks about the joys of writing in foreign languages, music, the voice of childhood, and the feast for senses that is Catholic ritual.

Interview by Janet Skeslien Charles, author of the award-winning Moonlight in Odessa. 

Marie Houzelle's acclaimed debut novel Tita  tells the story of a precocious seven-year-old schoolgirl struggling to find her way amid the traditions of southern France in the 1950s.
Tita will be released September 15 in paperback and December 15 in ebook.

"a strange, utterly original child" 
.Katharine Weber, author of Triangle and True Confections


When did you begin writing fiction?

Like Tita, as a child I used to write musical plays for my friends. In my teens, nothing but political songs and leaflets. My first narrative fiction was destined for my younger daughter, Mathilde, who liked comic strips (and the bedtime stories I improvised) but refused to read actual books. She was pretty critical of my efforts. So was I.
I kept scribbling, especially in public transport, about what was going on around me. Usually not in French, because people tend to glance at your notebook.
Ten years ago, I was in Alice Notley’s magnificent weekly workshop, trying to write non-fiction stories; I was so obsessed with truth I ended up with nothing but questions, for which I couldn’t find the right shape. Unwillingly, as a last resort, I defected to fiction. What a relief!

 Why do you write in English?

I’m not sure why I write in English. Or why I mostly sing in German and Latin. Last week, I felt like writing in Dutch, I had such a good time trying to pronounce it. French? I’m not fond of the word écrivain, not to mention écrivaine. While I feel quite comfortable with writer.

I teach creative writing to French university students. What advice do you have for them concerning writing in English?

Feel free. In a new language, you can be a new person. Don’t try to write either correctly or “like a native speaker”. English is a welcoming language. Many countries, no Academy. Enjoy it.

Marie Houzelle grew up in the south of France. Her work has appeared in the collection Best Paris Stories, in Narrative Magazine, Pharos, Orbis, Serre-Feuilles, Van Gogh's Ear, and in the chapbook No Sex Last Noon. "Hortense on Tuesday Night" was chosen by Narrative Magazine as one of the five top stories of 2011. Marie Houzelle was the only author to have two stories selected for inclusion in Best Paris Stories

Tita will be published on September 15, 2015 in paperback. Available in Paris at Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Available worldwide on Amazon and in your local bookstore.

For more information on Tita and Marie Houzelle.

 Extracts published courtesy of Janet Skeslien Charles.
Read full interview here:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books: Best Friends Forever

Forced to abandon his library when fleeing Nazi Europe, author Léopold Stern arrived in Rio De Janeiro in 1940 on the famous Serpa Pinto ship with 420 other refugees. Over the next two years, he would jot down his impressions of his new home in what was to become the book, Rio De Janiero et Moi.

In one of the essays, entitled "My Book" (Mon Livre) he reflects on what he misses about having his own books with him.

"My" book is not the same as the one you will find in the front window of any bookstore, from the same author and with the same title; far from it!

"My book," he explains, is the one full of my own margin notes, of places that I underlined, and of earmarked paged that I bend myself, even though I hate, as an act of brutality, to see the pages of a book bent. It is the one that I read for the first time when I was sixteen, listening to a Nocturne of Chopin floating down from the floor above.

And in explaining what is special about "my book", Stern gives us perhaps the most convincing reason - 70 years before the creation of the ebook - why the electronic book will never replace the printed book in our hearts.

Read Complete Essay "My Book" by Léopold Stern, 1942 (translated into English by Linda Zuckerman)