Only 676 new novels will be published at la rentrée this year, AFP reports (via TV5)– a 7.1% decrease over 2007.
The market is so saturated every year that objectively speaking, it doesn’t seem too much of a shame. But when you consider the breakdown, you begin to see where the cutbacks were made– in translations (10% fewer than last year) and first novels (91 this year; 102 last year).
But then, what young writer in her right mind would want her debut effort to appear in the fall, along with 675 other novels vying for readers’ attention? Better the untried get a better shot at the market by releasing their earnest little oeuvres when they’ll get more play at the FNAC.
So what can we look forward to? New work from Catherine Millet, Christine Angot, Régine Desforges, Olivier Rolin, Jean-Paul Dubois, Yann Quéffelec, Laurent Gaudé, Amélie Nothomb, Colombe Schneck… and a book-length essay by Pierre Assouline called Le blog ou la vie. Bref, il y en aura de quoi lire!
The hipper-than-thou Paris fashion emporium is taking a vacation to New York this fall, reports WWD*– brought to you by none other than the Gap!
The San Francisco-based retailer has commissioned the renowned Paris
boutique to create a one-month installation in its rotating Gap concept
store adjacent to its Fifth Avenue flagship at 54th Street. Dubbed
“Colette x Gap,” the shop, Colette’s first store in the U.S., will be
open from September 6 through October 5.
Exclusive products that will be available at the temporary shop will
include Colette’s signature candles, room fragrance, musk oil, CDs and
artist edition products. Limited edition Colette collaborations include
partnerships with Oakley sunglasses, Starter jackets, Uslu Airlines
nail polish, Le Labo fragrance Vanilla 44, Domestic vinyl stickers,
Hello Kitty watch and Asics Tiger sneakers. Gap will also issue limited
edition tees with prints by both Paris and New York-based artists.
It’s as if the coolest, most fashion-forward girl in your high school class were taking the very boring (but very nice) preppy guy to the prom: New Yorkers will have access to all that originality. Colette gets a space in midtown. The Gap looks cool by association. Everyone wins.
The only downside I foresee is that this will probably attract the kind of crowds last seen mobbing Topshop to buy a little piece of Kate Moss’s sartorial whimsy– which will involve standing in line for hours, trying on clothes on the spot, and getting into a catfights over a t-shirt. Something tells me the average New Yorker will throw up her hands in exasperation and leave without buying anything. (But I look forward to being proved wrong when I swing through town in early September.)
*Thanks to my dear friend Wendy for the link!
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose:
"…To know what one book says you must read others?"
"At times this can be so. Often books speak of other books. Often a harmless book is like a seed that will blossom into a dangerous book, or it is the other way around: it is the sweet fruit of a bitter stem. In reading Albert, couldn't I learn what Thomas might have said? Or in reading Thomas, know what Averroes said?"
"True," I said, amazed. Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.
"But then," I said, "what is the use of hiding books, if from the books not hidden you can arrive at the concealed ones?"
"Over the centuries it is no use at all. In the space of years or days it has some use. You see, in fact, how bewildered we are."
"And is a library, then, an instrument not for distributing the truth but for delaying its appearance?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"Not always and not necessarily. In this case it is."
This article in the Observer is almost as obnoxious as that New York Times piece from a few months back about what your bookshelf says about you. (No, it’s more obnoxious.) If I saw a guy on the metro reading Bolano’s 2666 I would roll my eyes and continue ignoring his existence.
But my friend Mel is quoted in there, so I can’t hate on it too much:
Mel Flashman, a literary agent in her early 30s at Trident Media
Group, said that if she saw a cute young man reading a galley by one of
her clients—the cultural critic Walter Benn Michaels, for instance,
with whom Ms. Flashman studied in graduate school and now represents to
the trade houses—she would not hesitate to approach him. “I would
totally use it as an excuse to talk to him. That said, I would almost
automatically have a crush on any fellow reading WBM!”
I guess if I saw some guy reading the other Walter Ben— jamin that is– I just might get a little crush of my own going. But I’m currently riding the Bolano Backlash Local, which means this: I’m sure he’s as great as all of you say, but I’m going to get to him in my own good time. I may be wearing the same sandals this summer as everyone else, but at least let my reading list be unique.
Have to keep the commentary brief today, so here's the facts, ma'am, and just the facts.
Edmund White on Marguerite Duras in the NYRB.
She loved herself, she quoted herself, she took a childlike delight in
reading her own work and seeing her old films, all of which she
declared magnificent. When toward the end of her life she ran into
Mitterrand in a fish restaurant, she asked him how she had become
better known to people around the world than he was. Very politely he
assured her he'd never doubted for a moment that her fame would someday
Colm Tóibín on The Golden Bowl in the Guardian.
Flammarion will again set up its "ephemeral library" at this year's Paris Plages, 21 July to 21 August.
Sarah Garland on Blaise Cendrars in Ready Steady Book.
In the Times, critics choose their most-loathed books. Woolf comes up twice, once for The Waves and once for Orlando.
I never actually thought about what books I loathe before! Let's see. I hated Ivanhoe when I was forced to read it in 7th grade, but could conceivably feel differently today. Hm… ok I know. I hated American Psycho. I hated Extension de la domaine de la lutte. I found Me Talk Pretty One Day impossibly cloying. Ok those are my answers.
This weekend in the Guardian, Adam Thirlwell (him again) says he doesn't go in for reader response theory, then posits a suggestion of a theory of the "distracted reader"– he worries that "we live lives too distracted to comprehend" what we read. .
The art of reading, like every art, is an art of detail. (That's
why they're arts.) But no one can retain all the details, nor the
details' thematic form. Mostly, what remains is an impression, an
The only hope is rereading. "A good reader," said Nabokov, "a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader."
Yes, of course. But not only because we're too distracted to read properly the first time through. But because we construct one idea of the book through the first reading, that we then shore up, flesh out, and fine tune on successive readings.
I am beginning to hem and haw and wish Nabokov were still around to write for the Guardian instead of Thrilwell, wondering if Manguel could have been brought in instead (but then he doesn't have a new book to promote), when the wunderkind leaves us with this doosy: "Every novel – this is my worry – is invisible."
Of all the things to worry about.
Controversy is brewing in France this week over a proposed amendment to the Constitution declaring regional languages to be part of France's patrimony. The amendment, which was proposed on May 22nd, was suppressed by the Senate on June 18th, two-thirds of whom agreed that it threatened the unity of French national identity, invoking legislature from 1539 and 1794 (God, I love France) as precedent.
The political analyst Arthur Goldhammer has an interesting take on his blog, encouraging the French to think less in terms of their "roots" and more in terms of their "branches."
Le Monde notes that "a language does not need to be legislated to exist. The 21 million French people who went to see '[Bienvenue chez les] Ch'tis' can best attest to this."
It'ch true it wach a really funny movie, hein?
well, when you put it that way… ew.
The problem with learning a foreign language is that even if you learn a few important phrases, you still have to decipher what people say back to you. Conversations end up going like this one, on a recent trip to SoftBank:
Me: Konnichiwa! Pre-paido denwa wa koko desu ka? (Hello! Where are the pre-paid cell phones?)
Staff: [incoherent buzzing and clucking]
Me: Uh, um, hai, no have pre-paido denwa?
Staff: [buzz, cluck]
Me: Um, koko posso comprare– damn– where can I buy one? DoCoMo?
Staff: Don Quixote! CoCo!
Me: Hmm. Ok. Arigato gozaimasu. [smiles politely, leaves confused]
Then, lo! a little internet research reveals that SoftBank does indeed sell prepaid phones! But, since I have no visa, I'm ineligible to get one.
What's Japanese for "#&@*?!!"