This gallery contains 4 photos.
The Gargoyles of Notre Dame. Paris.
I have a love/hate relationship with Paris. Like many people, I expect, I had a romanticized notion of Paris, which I was quite aware was unreal. But I still wanted to see the storied place of Latrec, Ilse Bing, Cocteau, Hugo, Doisneau, and Brassaï. There must be something that drew them, inspired them all.
If there was, they took it with them.
Although there were certain things that we did that we enjoyed, as a city, a place, it was dreadful. It was dirty, with rotting small animals left in public parks. Every few years another agressive peddler tried to sell you the same cheap trinket. The Metro was filthy and not well-run. But I somehow managed to take stunning photos. Maybe that is Paris’ spell.
I couldn’t help but think all this as I read Lacava’s fantastic memoir. She was moved to France as a thirteen year old. Already fragile, she is thrown into a new world, a new school, new country, new language. One of her coping mechanisms is to collect random objects that are important to her. No one seems to understand it, or her thought process, or even the inner pain she is experiencing.
The book is series of intertwined episodes during this confusing time. Each essay shimmers along until the little asterisk signals a tangential explanation. The footnotes sometimes last for three pages, dwarfing the “actual” text. But this is the charm, and indeed, the strength of this memoir. As the reader, we are given insight into how Lacava’s nonlinear thinking works.
Alone and unaccepted by other girls, I also loved biographies or fiction about alluring and iconoclastic women who would come to feel like real-life companions. Reading was a Pascalian diversion; stories and facts were a distraction from spiraling thoughts. I had always hated loudness. It was loud enough in my head.
This mania extended to animals, people, and places — a city, even strangers in the street. I had a game where I liked to imagine what sort of pajamas each passerby might wear. This came from a belief that the more I know about the inner lives of others, the more I might understand the world. Collecting information and talismans is a way of exercising magical control. You can hold a lucky charm and known everything about nature’s creatures yet still be terribly lonely. ~Pg. 3
In some ways, I think many young girls who are “different” but brilliant have these inner conversations and games. It’s a way to exercise the mind without exposing themselves to ridicule.
Her writing is unflinching. She is brutally honest about her self and her familial disappointments, but this is not a self-indulgent pity party. This is insightful writing at its best — and it’s an extremely enjoyable read.
My sincere thanks to the folks at Harper for the advance review copy and for sending the images for me to inlcude.
On Sale: 12/4/2012
Trimsize: 5 x 7 1/4
Ages: 18 and Up
Time to show you some more photos of the cemeteries we explored on our honeymoon. There photos were taken at Pere Lachaise, the very famous burying ground in Paris. It is where such famous people as Jim Morrison, Chopin, and Oscar Wilde. It is also a beautiful place to wander around.
Have you been to a famous gravesite? Where was it?
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” — G.K. Chesterton, “On Running After One’s Hat,” 1908
Dear Paris Review,
Someone sent me this text message yesterday: “What’s a book I should read to make girls think I’m smart in a hot way? I want to seem like a douchey intellectual instead of my deadbeat self.” What should I tell him?
This is the first of Nemirovsky’s novels I have read. I’d heard her story and was intrigued. She was born in 1903 in Kiev to wealthy family, who immigrated to France. Well-educated, she became a prolific and respected writer in Paris. However, her life and talent were cut short when she died in 1942 in Auschwitz. Her posthumous career has taken on a life of its own. This book in particular was kept locked in a safe for decades and only released in 2006.
It opens on the trial of Gladys Eysenach, the main character. She is accused of murdering a young man named Bernard. As the trial proceeds, she does little to defend herself. Rather she allows others to come to their own conclusions. She would rather be found guilty than admit to the terrible truth she is trying to hide.
Gladys is obsessed with youth. Her beauty is her only concern. As the novel progresses (through flashbacks) it becomes clear that she will never be content and only serves to act as her own downfall. Gladys’ selfishness is stunning.
In 1914 Gladys lived near Antibes in a beautiful but uncomfortable house, built in the Italian style; it had belonged to the Counts Dolcebuone and was named ‘Sans-Souci’.
‘I only rented it because of its name, ‘Care-free’, for it encapsulates all of life’s wisdom,’ she would say.
The rooms were vast and cold, the furniture covered in threadbare red damask. But the dark walls softened the glaring light of the Midi and Gladys likes that. Every day, just after she woke up, she would pick up her mirror and study her features, and she would find pleasure in the glowing shadow that softly lit up her face. ~Pg 59.
Although it is written in the third person, it is from Gladys’ point-of-view. The reader sees her disintegrate, slowly unravelling.
The main weakness in the novel is the repetitive nature after the halfway point. The plot is left in the background — until the last few pages. However the repeating thoughts do note Gladys’ static nature. She is unchanging, ungrowing, even in the face of losing her freedom. Her obsession has in turn consumed her and she is now unable to change.
The book reads more like a novella. It’s easily read in a day. I found it very reminiscent of George Sand and her Leone Leoni, and of James M Cain’s Mildred Pierce. I’m very glad her work has been “rediscovered” and look forward to reading more of it.
A great many thanks to Audrey and Courtney at Vintage Anchor Books for the review copy.
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 1, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
|Menilmontant is a wonderful silent film.|
|Tree next to Jim Morrison’s grave|
|Good thing there was a fence around this one…|
I was hoping for the neighborhood, artist’s colony feel but unfortunately it was simply overrun by tourists and more guys selling awful trinkets.
|The famous steps of Montmartre. Of course, Brassai’s is better than mine.|
|The railing along the Metro stairs|
|Palais de Justice|
|One of the famous Rose Windows, taken down during the war and reinstalled.|
|A view of the buttresses|
We climbed over 400 stairs, up a small, winding, stone staircase, to a narrow walkway to view the famous gargoyles. Each one was a little different, which was very cool.
|I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this guy.|
|Views from the upper roof|
After we finished at the Eiffel Tower, we walked along Le Seine, on the way to Musee D’Orsay. The skies threatened to unleash, but no rain ever actually came down.
|The Grand Palais|
|The Grand Palais left, Pont Alexandre III middle, Petit Palais right|
|The Grand Palais, from across the river|
|The view from Pont Alexandre III|
|The Grand Palais|
|Pont Alexandre III|
|Pont Alexandre III|
|Pont Alexandre III|
|The Louvre, from across the river|
|Yep, we’re going even higher.|
|Apparently, pickpockets are red in France. Very convenient.|
|Oh yeah. By the way, it’s brown. Had no idea.|
|A very expensive restaurant in the tower|
|As I took this one, I got a few weird looks… and some copycats.|
|Walking down Le Seine|
This gallery contains 4 photos.
The Gargoyles of Notre Dame. Paris.
|Boris Karloff and Anna Lee in Bedlam|
|Jane Avril, a famous dancer at the Moulin Rouge, was an occasional patient of Charcot.|
Reviewer did not receive a review copy of this title.
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
Part 1 – Killer Instinct
Part 2 – Public Enemy No. 1
I have rarely been so entranced by what is primarily an action movie. So far-reaching is the protagonist’s mayhem that it took two full length films to show just pieces of his exploits. There could easily have been a third.
The saga begins in the early 1960s when Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) struggles with his post in Algeria. He is assigned to rout out revolutionaries in Algiers and punish with no mercy (these scenes harken back to the equally suspenseful Battle of Algiers). Clearly conflicted, he returns home – to live with his parents. His disillusionment is not unlike those returning from World War I, confused by their elders’ insistence that war is honorable, as is a quiet home and a respectable job.
Home life doesn’t agree with Mesrine, but he finds that bank robbing holds a thrill, and a paycheck, he can’t resist. He becomes more embroiled in the criminal underworld and his “legitimate” life begins to crumble. His wife and kids suffer from his short temper and angry outbursts. He is finally apprehended and jailed for a number of years before he manages to escape (the first of many times). The mood slowly morphs from bebop-infused heists (in which Mesrine insists no one is hurt and only the thieving banks suffer) to dark, solemn, psychologically-disturbed crime.
Cassel very expertly draws this enigmatic character. He will wink and give a half smile that elicits a chuckle, then scrunch up his nose in a sneer that is frightful. Though Mesrine has no problem shooting police officers and stealing money, he is also incredibly charming, a stalwart friend and a fantastic cook. He has never gone back on a promise and never hurts an innocent bystander. The gendarmerie have labelled him Public Enemy #1, but the public are not so quick to condemn. He is a modern Robin Hood.
By the second film, Mesrine (that’s MAY-reen) is struggling with this public image. At once admired and reviled, he begins to lash out at those who try to quell his ideas. He attempts to develop his stance as a revolutionary — fighting against inhumane treatment in prison (like those he suffered), in addition to bringing attention to unfair banking practices and those who control them.
Yet he can never quite reconcile himself with the absolute ruthlessness needed to achieve widespread change. He has a tender side, which he often has trouble dealing with. It’s as if two halves are constantly battling one another — and it’s devastating, yet incredible, to watch. We too, as the audience, are at the same time intrigued and repulsed by the outlaw. Perhaps the only thing that is clear is that the ineffectual Paris police force (portrayed as little better than a team of Inspector Clouseaus) caused an unfair end to Mesrine.
The Mesrine Saga is a taut and exciting portrait of a man who really existed. It is a fun crime thriller to be sure, but it also explores what is means to “exist” and the idea that exterior perception can affect interior reality.
View trailers of the films here.
|Kruger and Neeson on set|
|A sophisticated underground system|
|A famous Metro sign|
It was a lovely day in Savannah. Slightly chilly, but warm in the sun. First we stopped in the Jepson Center to see the Modern Masters, The Art of Kahlil Gibran, and The South Beheld. I didn’t care too much for the modern exhibit, but too be fair, it’s not my favorite style of art to begin with. I did find that I enjoyed the portraits of Nathan Oliveira.
I much preferred the works of Kahlil Gibran and was very excited by the art of Southern, self-taught artists.
We had a great brunch at Molly MacPherson’s (the first day they have offered brunch), which is all decked out for Christmas.
|My favorite, Le Parisen|
It is a slow afternoon in Savannah, as it is often. I found a lovely little link to the New York Public Library’s online digital collection. The only thing missing from sifting through these lovely bits of ephemera are the smells of aged inks and shedding paper.
I came across this photo, one I’m sure I must have seen in my study of street photography (self-inflicted) but for some reason, today, it punched me in the stomach.
I’m not entirely sure why. The shadowy figure in the foreground is very mysterious. Someone is hurrying along their way, but is he up to no good? What hides beneath his swirling cape?
The building that is now for rent, who used to live there? What happened; why did they leave? it looks tragic, haunted. It is worn, but not with love. It looks beaten and bruised.
The men standing on the corner seem to be speaking in hushed tones. Are they gossiping about the former tenants? Is the man with the pushcart, or the cargo truck waiting to haul the last possessions of the unfortunate tenants?
Berenice Abbott, like her mentor Eugene Atget, set out to record, capture and memorialize the changes taking place in the their cities (Ny and Paris, respectively). Both claimed to be record keepers, rather than artists, yet they are still regarded and some of the most important photographers in the medium’s short history. I think this photo proves that it was more than just memorializing a building or a street corner. She was capture a mood as well.
The first French film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes since 1987, this raw tale of a school year in Paris’ inner city pulls no punches. Francois Begaudeau penned the novel, the screenplay and played “himself” as the teacher, under the direction of Laurent Cantet.
Filmed with real students, not actors, it exposes with frankness the day-to-day challenges, and successes, of life within the walls. It also managed to show a wider view of Paris that enamored foreigners rarely see — racial division, Muslim populations, and formerly colonized African descendants all in the same room. Kids will be kids, but these kids have it tough and are fighting tooth and nail to be heard over the din of street violence, iPods and aggressive parents.
Lengthy scenes add to the realistic feel, letting the audience feel like it is sitting in on class. Interjections and giggling seem spontaneous. Interruptions remind us how hard it is for the teacher to keep things on a single track. What makes this teacher so endearing is his willingness to let them drive the direction. He winds up their curiosity and lets them go, almost so they won’t know that they are learning.
There is much to glean from the few scenes with administration as well. Their callousness toward the students we have spent class with is cold and shortsighted. We feel the urge to yell at the screen, “But you weren’t there! You don’t understand! If you would just listen!”
Somehow, the story comes full circle. It’s neither happy nor sad. It’s Sisyphus. Another school year is over. People move on. He’ll have a new class next year. And maybe these kids will be the ones to get something out of it.
Certainly he will.