where the writers are
MUST learn french

yayayay thankyou Huntington W Sharp for alerting me to the mention on the homepage - i raise a jacob's cream cracker to the good health of the Red Room community


and i still write the book, but not every day. i just can't, because it's paris,and everything's so pretty and basically i've been wandering around going 'ooh la la it's the seine, ooh la la it's notre dame, ooh la la, it's a baguette' and so on

i read emmanuel carrere's 'the adversary', a chillingly concise investigation of the grey space that inhabits and consumes the life of a liar (remember that case some years ago about the guy that killed his family because he'd told them he was a doctor and they were about to find out that he wasn't a doctor at all and that in fact he was running out of all the money he'd stolen from their savings? this is a meditation on that). Carrere's main preoccupation is that of what the fellow did all day when he was supposed to be at work. So he started a correspondence with the man, who wrote him from prison. Walked in the woods, he said. And read newspapers at cafes near the World Health Organisation, where he told everyone he worked as a consultant. Sometimes he'd pretend to go on business trips for the WHO and just check into hotels and watch TV.

unspeakable horror.

other highlights of the stuff i've read since my last post are ETA Hoffman short stories (a reread) and Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone (ditto).

anyways, please to picture this:

it's last thursday afternoon, sunny, and i'm at brasserie hoche, at a table by the window looking out onto the avenue, having champagne sorbet and reading 'the magus' after a long walk in search of a church that does Mass in English (found the Church but it terrified me- it was too squat and modern and overcompensated for its squad modernity with excessively life-like sculptures of various saints protuding from its walls).

the waiter comes over and i think he's giving me the bill already- always an unfriendly gesture when you've only been settled at your table for five minutes - but no, he's got a napkin in his hand. a fellow sitting about five tables away from me, in the corner, with a book and coffee, smiles at me when the waiter indicates that the note is from him. the fellow is cute - significantly older than me but a blazer and jeans type, smile crinkles around his eyes

the napkin note, alas, is all in french:

'vous charmez dans votre solitude. ..une petite reveur, peut-etre ? me dire vos reves. ..quand nous reveillons demain...'

can't understand it of course.

'er...parlez vous anglais?' being too crude to write back, i finish my sorbet and continue reading my book. after some time i smile at him, then, after an interval, smile again. he gets back to his book and doesn't seem perturbed by my lack of response. when i finish my sorbet i send the waiter back over with a napkin of my own (i simply drew a smiley face and a question mark) and leave without looking at him.
he must think i'm none too swift.


so so so: the note translates as: 'you're charming in your solitude...a little dreamer, perhaps? tell me your dreams when we wake up tomorrow...'

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very bold, indeed, the note!


and i raise a toast to you in yr journey. looking forward to the next birth of your book. i finished my mfa a coupla' yrs. ago and i am still writing in the corners of things. sometimes i feel like an impostor because i don't have this identifiable, elaborate writing life... hope to hear more about you and france.


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how was the MFA??

i don't have an elaborate writing life either - so much twiddling of thumbs between sentences- that's why i identified so much with the guy who told everyone he was a doctor and then just spent his 'workdays' walking in the woods and reading newspapers...

out of interest, what was in the cup you raised to toast my journey?

i toast you and corners with pu-erh tea!




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Un vœu

Que la langue d'amour detruira la timidité à la prochaine fois.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room



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o dear o dear

(thumbs dictionary)

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A wish

Oh, OK, Helen...I won't leave you hanging:

May the language of love destroy shyness next time.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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o thankyou, because what i got made nooooooo sense

next time i'm taking my dictionary to the brasserie - between that and the language of love all cannot fail to be well



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my cup runneth over with earl grey tea, my favorite!

well, the mfa was grueling. i was in the poetry program with a sneaky eye toward fiction. folks were invested in tearing apart one's work if they read it. but i had to carve out a space for me. i needed the two years of uninterrupted writing. so, in that respect it worked for me. but, i think right now i am experiencing some type of slump. but, once i've published a book of poetry i will look to fiction. i have tried my hand at short stories though. there's a lot of divadom in the writing programs....


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how very delightful!

i hope you'll keep us all updated as much as you can.