Saturday, July 23, 2016

Amelie Nothomb - Part II of Paris in July

'Il y a un instant, entre la quinzième et la seizième gorgée de champagne, où tout homme est un aristocrate'

On my way to rediscover Paris in July I started reading Margaux Fragoso's "Tigre! Tigre!" but the memoir of a young girl falling in love with a fifty year old man was too serious and "fatigante", so I replaced it with Amelie Nothomb's "Le Fait du Prince", published in 2008. 

I have read books penned by Nothomb in the past, and every time I did that, I (re)discovered a very talented writer, one whose imagination goes beyond the ordinary, and "Le Fait du Prince", translated into Romanian as "The Right to Live and Die" makes no exception. 

The short novel starts with the idea of someone dying in your home and with the best steps to follow if you find yourself in this dreadful situation. Then, the main character, a bored man who can't even remember what his job is, "allows" a stranger to die in his home... only to decide to steal his life and become that rich man himself. Even though it may seem strange at first, Nothomb knows how to turn an unbelievable story into something you would like to experience... or at least write about. I really enjoyed the way she can take unpleasant characters and make them quite plausible in their actions. 
A story worth reading, whether it is for Tamara's "Paris in July" reading challenge or simply because you want to discover a very imaginative French writer... 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cold Fish

I decided to watch another Sion Sono movie and this time, I got more than I would have wished for. I was aware that the Japanese director was in for shocking the hell out of us, but he went much further and exploited the true story of two serial killers in order to transform it into something horrifying and totally outrageous. 

The title of "Cold Fish", directed in 2010, has a double meaning: the main characters are owners of exotic fish shops, but the idiom "cold fish" also refers to someone who shows no emotion and looks uninterested, until... 

The first 45 minutes seem "reasonable" to watch and you may think the story could go anywhere just to end up into something ordinary, but do not be fooled, at the Venice International Film Festival in 2010 the movie received the best screenplay award, so if you are not sickened by the literal blood and guts spread everywhere, you may ask yourself why a perfect stranger would want to help you when you face a problem... Add to this an unsatisfied wife, a house in the woods and a calm husband who can take so much... "Life is pain", utters the main character as his final line and if you are brave enough, you will be able to discover his madness at the end of this vicious and dark horror movie. 
You can find the trailer here. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Extension du domaine de l'amour... ou Paris in July part I

Mid July, I managed to read two of the three books I planned for Paris in July challenge and I was quite pleased with them, even though the two books are quite different. Here is why:

"Extension du domaine de la lutte" was written in 1994 by the French Michel Houellebecq and it was as its protagonist a depressed 30 year old man working as a programmer and whose name is not mentioned.

"Sleeping with Paris" was written in 2013 by Juliette Sobanet, who spent her youth years in the United States and Paris. Her protagonist is Charlotte Summers, a young French teacher in the States who discovers, just days before moving to Paris with her fiance, that he is a cheating bastard.

"Extension" is much for serious than Sobanet's book and I found the male character quite obnoxious from time to time, while having problems understanding his attitudes and complaints. I did not see him evolving, and this is a major trait I look for in the characters from the books I read. In fact, there is a lack of purpose and desire in him that I did not find suitable for a book during the summer days. However, it is quite interesting to see the controversial Houellebecq at work.

On the other hand, "Sleeping in Paris", or "Love in Paris" (the Romanian translation) is a light, funny book, full of kisses, sexy French guys and love... something we all connect the City of Light with, especially during a hot (please get the 'double-entendre' of the word) July. I loved its pace and the fact that each chapter brings something exciting along, whether that is a French neighbour offering you chocolates and nights full of passion, or the ex-husband who appears out of the blue to convince you he has made a huge mistake. The book is the first in a series of romantic reads set in Paris and they seem perfect for my next Paris in July challenges.