Sunday, June 26, 2016

Paris in July ... Once More!

July is almost here and my reading list of French literature is ready to be tackled. I love reading in French, especially French authors because, as with Japanese literature, the French writing style is quite different and unique in capturing the French way of living and understanding life.

For this July I decided to read Michel Houellebecq's "Extension du domaine de la lutte" because I enjoyed "Platforme" years ago when I first took part in the challenge managed by Tamara here, and Houellebecq is quite a controversial figure on the French literary scene. Also, I hope to find time to watch the adaptation for the screen of the same book.

I will also read something "easy" because we need to escape the heavy, more serious literature and drown into something romantic, and what is more romantic than falling in love in Paris? So, "Love in Paris" will just come in handy. I have not read anything by the French writer Juliette Sobanet but I hope I will not be disappointed.

Trying to keep up with the novelties, I came across the title "Tigre, Tigre!" by the French writer Margaux Fragoso. Although I know nothing about her, I will give this book a go because the subject of the book is quite controversial and I am curious to see if the book is as good as it was praised by journalists from The Guardian here. 

And since the French mood is nothing without some French music, I will immerse my ears into some French sounds sung by Navii. Here is a taste of his style and his adorable Paris.


Monday, June 20, 2016

My 20 Books of Summer

For four years now I have challenged myself to read 30 books in 90 days (from the 15th of June to the 15th of September). This summer I also plan on doing other creative things, so I have in mind to read at least 20. Here's a glimpse of what I am about to read.

This challenge is hosted by Cathy, here. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Guest Cat

I have started Bellezza's Japanese Literature Reading Challenge with a truly beautiful book, "The Guest Cat", (2001) and translated into English in 2014 (and in Romanian in 2016). In fact, it is so melancholically beautiful that I named my cat, which I just adopted a day ago, Chibi. Chibi is the guest cat, a cat that comes and goes as she pleases in the house of a thirty year old couple.
The novel is quite short, about 140 pages and there isn't much action taking place, but if you take into account the fact that the writer, Takashi Hiraide, is a poet and this is his first work in prose, and he is also a Japanese writer, meaning that we all know how subtle they can be in their writing style, this little book comes out as a gem.
Chibi manages to make the couple, who have neither children nor pets like her so much that when she "leaves" them, they have a problem getting used to the feeling.

Eating and sleeping as much as she liked, circulating freely between locales, it seemed as if the boundary between the two households had itself come into question. Even the words we used to talk about Chibi had become a mass of confusion: was her coming to our house a return – a homecoming – or was it the other way around? Was home really over there? The whole situation seemed to be in flux. Once, when we had been out for the day, we returned to find Chibi there in the dim light of the entrance to welcome us, seated properly, feet together on the raised wooden floor as if she were a young girl who had been left to care for the house while we were away.
 “See, I told you. She’s our girl.”
 …or so my wife said, though she knew she wasn’t really ours. Which is why it seemed all the more as if she were a gift from afar – an honored guest bestowing her presence upon us.

The way the writer perfectly captures the soothing calmness of the cat is in tone with the type of poetry in prose that he writes. Click here if you want to read the complete interview with Takashi Hiraide in which he also talks about "The Guest Cat":

"The Guest Cat is written in keeping with the Japanese tradition of the I-Novel. This is a kind of novel that is very near to the essay, but also a form that is interested in the difference between the two. The novel is a form of fiction, the essay a form of non-fiction, but I am very much interested in their subtle differences—in the space that exists between them but also in places where they overlap."

This is a novel that will leave a trace on you as long as you are sensitive enough to see how much a feline's soul can alter yours for good. And if you wonder who the cat in the middle of the collage is... it is my Chibi! :) 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

To Be or Not To Be

I have read almost everything Shakespeare wrote hundreds of years ago, but my favorite play still remains "Hamlet". It is so complex and the main character is incredibly intriguing that it makes you raise so many questions about human nature, revenge, love and the intricacies of the human mind.
I got acquainted with "Hamlet" in high school because we had to study a few extracts and I found the prince of Denmark quite mysterious.
Years after that moment, in 2000, I discovered that my favorite actor, Ethan Hawke, starred as Hamlet in the modern-day New York City adaptation of Shakespeare famous play. I saw it first in 2004 or 2005, I guess and I was absolutely amazed at how well he succeeded in embodying the main character and how actual the story can be, even if written at an uncertain year between 1599 and 1602. Watching the adaptation for the screen makes you realize once more what a powerful universality Shakespeare can have.
Another plus that this movie offers is the fact that it was directed by Michael Almereyda, the famous, talented director who also directed "Cymbeline" in 2014, based on Shakespeare's play and which also stars Ethan Hawke as Iachimo.
"Hamlet" (2000) got mixed reviews from different important magazines, but you cannot judge it until you see it, and you also need to appreciate how faithful it is to the original play, not by simply sticking to Shakespeare's lines, but by playing with ideas and feelings in crucial moments. prior to delivering the well known monologue "To Be or Not To Be", Ethan's Hamlet watches a movie of a famous Buddhist teacher in which he explains the principle "To be is to be with others, to be is to inter-be."
Almereyda has definitely created a new standard for Shakespearian adaptation, one in which we should understand more the emotional pull of the characters while still "TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE."