Skip to content

Recent Articles

27
Jun

#Paris In July 2022

  • Oh, is it July already?
  • Let’s have a glass of wine and
  • think of some things to do for…
  • #ParisInJuly
  • I cannot change my photo for this yearly challegene
  • …I just love this girl in the café!
  • Mental note:  put wine in fridge to chill for tonight!
  • Drinking my last bottle of a Australian/Tasmanian sparking rosé wine
  • …next month it is ALL French!

 

Paris in July

  1. Paris in July is a French themed blogging
  2. …experience running from the 1st – 31st July this year.
  3. The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through
  4. actual visits, or through reading, watching, listening,
  5. observing, cooking and eating all things French!
  6. For more instructions how to share your posts go to Thyme for Tea.

 

  1. There will be no rules or targets …just blog about anything French
  2. …and you can join in! Some ideas might include;
  3. reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction,
  4. watching a French movie,
  5. listening to French music,
  6. cooking French food,
  7. experiencing French, art, architecture and travel.
  8. #ParisInJuly

 

What are my plans for 2022?

  1. Cézanne: Puissant et solitaireM. Hoog
  2. Caravaggio – José Frèches (French art historian)
  3. Le Dernier Jour d’un Condamné – Victor Hugo
  4. La Cousin Bette – H. Balzac
  5. Le Dieu de Dostoïevski Marguerite Souchon
  6. Profession du père – Sorj Chalandon
  7. Le manuscrit inachevé: Thriller – Franck Thilliez
  8. Les délassiés – T. Porcher 
  9. Le fagot de ma mémoire – S. Diagne 
  10. La guerre des idées – E. Bastié 
  11. ?
  12. ?

 

              

 

 

Archive:  July  2018:

  1. Paris in July Food Journal
  2. Crème du Citron
  3. French Wine
  4. Biscuits Breton
  5. Cocktail: Kir Royale
  6. Cocktail: Soixante-quinze ’75’
  7. Cocktail: What do I do with Campari, Marguerite Duras?
  8. Cocktail: Who Pays the Bartender?
  9. Madeleines
  10. Biography: Berthe Morisot
  11. Quiche Lorraine
  12. Retour à Killybegs – S. Chalandon (2019)
  13. Mousse aux éclats de chocolat (2019)
  14. Je suis fou de toi  (2019) – D. Bona
  15. Le Grand Meaulnes (2019) – Alain-Fournier
 

Archive:  July 2021:

  1. La maison du chat qui pelote – H. Balzac (1830)  REVIEW
  2. La cagnotte – E. Labiche (1864)  REVIEW
  3. Pour une nuit d’amour – E. Zola (1880)  REVIEW
  4. Le Bourgeois gentilhomme – Molière (1670)  REVIEW
  5. J’Accuse – Émile Zola   REVIEW
  6. Âme brisée – A. Mizubayashi  REVIEW
  7. Charlotte – D. Foenkinos  REVIEW
  8. 4 French Films – REVIEW
  9. Le Dossier 113 – E. Gaboriau  REVIEW
  10. Une amie de la famille – J. Laclavetine  REVIEW
  11. La promesse de l’aube – Romain Gary  REVIEW
  12. Sign-up “Summer reading in other languages”
  13. Salammbô – G. Flaubert  REVIEW
  14. Henri Matisse: Rooms with a view – S. Blum  REVIEW

24
Jun

#Historic Roe Vs Wade

If you thought Roe v. Wade itself led to discord and division, just wait until it’s gone.

 

Feedback:

There was a leak from the Supreme Court about this decision in May…the country knew it was inevitable but this is just a difficult to digest! The judges are now putting abortion in the hands of state politicians and that is going to be the rule by minority…Christian national fanatics! If the Republicans WIN majority in the Congress House of Representatives AND the Senate in November….they are looking to install a blanket ban on abortion in ALL states. Watch you news …watch what happens in this country on….Election Day…08 November.

 

If your a PODCAST listener…today (25 June) the New York Times has a special episode on the excellent PC “The Daily” (27 min) that gives you an idea what is going on…in a nutshell!

 

Eye-opener!!  

  1. Podcast “The Rachel Maddow Show”  
  2. dd. 25 June
  3. “American women’s lives altered as Republican  SCOTUS ends Roe v Wade”
  4. This Supreme Court decision.
  5. … this is a very well organised and  funded plan started 40 years ago.
  6. Ms Maddow explains the backstory and the Republican’s vision
  7. …because after Roe v Wade
  8. …they are NOT going stop now!!
  9. #Chilling
  10. Please listen….this makes The Handmaids Tale  my NEXT book I will read!

 

18
Jun

#Poetry Hanif Abdurraqib

JUNE

The Crown Ain't Worth Much by Hanif Abdurraqib by Hanif Abdurraqib Hanif Abdurraqib

Finish date: 16 June 2022
Genre: poetry
Rating: A+++

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much (2016)  ISBN: 9781943735044

Good news:
First poetry book this year…and it is a tricky one to review. Something that I like about Abdurraqib’s style…many others may consider it a minus point. These are not all easy quick poetry reads. You have to sit and invest some quality reading time to extract the genius of this poet. This is a collection of poems that speak to the author’s experiences growing up in east Columbus Ohio. The poems themselves are odes to people that have played pivotal roles within his life. PS: love the bookcover!!

Good news:
Abdurraqib is so skilful in using words to paint scenes of great
emotional insight. Poems in the voice of “The Ghost of the Author’s Mother…” (pg 64, 70) and
“Dispatches From the Black Barbershop, Tony’s chair” (pg 13, 43, 61, 92) are wonderful.
Most touching poems: “Author Writes the First Draft of His Wedding Vows” and “XII” (pg 67) about his grandmother and a flowershop, flower petals…that are finally wilting (death).

Bad news:
The poet loves to pepper many poems with the “&-sign”.
Yes, a poet is free to structure the poem as he/she likes… but 24 x &-signs in 11 sentences
was too much. Strange that just a small “&” kept irritating me and spoiled the reading.

Good news:
Abdurraqib uses a variety of poem structures.
A solid paragraph with no punctuation is a challenge
…but after 10 poems in this style I learned how to read them.
Search for anaphora: repetition of a words or phrasewords….circle them and then a rhythm (be it obscure) slowly rises from the page.

Personal:
Poetry is personal. You read it or you don’t. There is nothing a review will do to convince you to try Hanif Abdurraqib. But I hope you take time to glance in this book if you see it in the bookstore or library. Reading The Crown Ain’t Worth Much is like eating a rich and dense piece of  wedding cake…hard to digest in anything more than the smallest portions. It is so rich. I read the book between November 2021 – June 2022. I would dip into it and read about 10-12 poems at a time.

Poetry has the power to put many concepts or incidents into a few powerful words.  At the moment gun control legislation in USA is still a problem. In a poem on pg 61. “Dispatches From the Black Barbershop, Tony’s Chair (2011)” ..I found words that really struck a cord with me as I recall the shouts of parents in Uvalde TX.“do something” to curb guns in USA:

“….nothing more lonely than having the POWER to put out the fire….
and not making it rain.

 

PS:  

  1. Essays by Hanif Abdurraqib WORTH YOUR READING TIME!! 
  2. Reading tip for #NonFicNov 2022
  3. A Little Devil in America – REVIEW

 

16
Jun

#Non-fiction Harlem Renaissance

JUNE

When Harlem Was in Vogue by David Levering Lewis by David Levering Lewis (no photo)

Finish date: 15 June 2022
Genre: nonfiction
Rating: D-

When Harlem Was In Vogue (1981)  ISBN: 9780140263343

 

Bad news:
Scope is too broad….too much trivial info and not enough analysis.
Some chapters were just “laundry lists” of
who ’s who in Harlem’s literature, music and theatre scene.

60 % of the book is about….
NAACP
National Urban League
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) (labor union)
…their leaders and publications.

The Crisis (NAACP, editor W.E.B. DuBois) and
Opportunity (NUL, editor Charles S. Johnson) and
The Messenger (labor union editor, Philip Randolph)

40 %…
Long biographical chapters of writers and decision makers in Harlem Renaissance (read wikipedia and learn the essence)
Detailed reviews about books that were important in 1920s
…but lose their impact 100 years later! (just not very interesting)

Bad news:
Author D.L. Lewis is a 2 x Pulitzer Prize winner for biography
…but I did not feel this book was of such literary quality.
Chapters felt like they were collected from other
publications/books by Mr. Lewis. The book felt disjointed.

Good news:
Learned about “The Six” who shaped and promoted the Harlem Renaissance movement.
C. Cullen, WEB DuBois, Ms. Jessie Faucet, Langston Hughes, Ethel Nance and Regina Anderson.
Listened to jazz musicians (Sidney Bechet, clarinet)…new to me!

Personal:
I had high hopes for this book….but it was not worth the hours I spent reading it. It felt like an info dump. After 50% of the book… I decided to read about the person/book/music on Wikipedia then skimmed the chapters.
Would I recommend the book? NO.

 

NOTE: 16.06.2022 – Feedback to Jinger’s comment:

 

Just what I was thinking….just life in general in Harlem 1920s.
Too much Black elites discussing books and music.

Don’t get me wrong
…some books are classics “Soul of the Black Folks” (DuBois) and Passing (Nella Larson) and of course Zora Neale Hurston…..but NOT interested in the nitty gritty critiques by lit magazine editors.

I’ve read 3 books about the African-American history/scene these past weeks. Time to change gears and select a book that is completely different…and of course make time to watch the Jan 6 hearing on TV….bombshell news today in WP and NYT.
PS:
The Dead Are Arising. (2020) gave me a MUCH better sense of Harlem than in D. Lewis’s book. I recommend Les Payne’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize winning biography ….great read! Pulitzer Prize Biography 2021

 

13
Jun

#Non-fiction All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep

JUNE

All the White Friends I Couldn't Keep Hope--And Hard Pills to Swallow--About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry by Andre Henry (no photo)

 

Finish date: 12 June 2022
Genre: nonfiction
Rating: A++++

All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep (2022)  (ISBN: 9780593559109)

 

Good news:
The cover tells you the core message: Andre Henry had to cut off white friends …for his own mental health. He tells us in his very personal and passionate book that he has come to some conclusions: a small minority of white people (WP) were really interested in genuine equality — he calls out the scope of the problem of white supremacy — he calls out WP’s lack of interest in solving racism/fascism in USA. What impressed me was his statement that …whenever WP were put off about something about race it fell to him to follow up and manage the relationship.

 

Good news:
Andre Henry gives one of the most original “hooks” I’ve ever seen: “Warning from Author” – this is the story of a political shift in my life. He reveals: “These thing were difficult to relive I writing this book and I’m certain they will be hard to read.”

 

Personal:
Yes, parts of the book were hard to read.
I cannot imagine how it must feel when a “friend”
tells Mr Henry (pg 189)…white supremacy is a figment of his
imagination!

After the horrific events in May 2022 (Buffalo NY, Uvalde TX) WP also have the audacity to say ….this isn’t who we are…and clutch their pearls. As one mother of a survivor of the mass shooting at Topps supermarket told Congress hearing just last week. “Yes, this is exactly who you are…”

There is so much to digest in this book. Get through the first few chapters…don’t give up on this book
because ch 7-8-9 are very powerful.

 

In conclusion, this is a book that I will take with me for a long time.
It will help me connect the dots when I read about USA and it’s current
political situation (NO meaningful gun legislation….NO Votings Rule Act)
….why?  Because the current system in USA was built to oppress.

I want to end on a positive note. I was reading the NYT yesterday and saw a young black student…accepted by Yale and 15 other colleges (including 3 Ivies) she told her mother at graduation: “I’m going to Spelman in Atlanta Georgia” Many in the college age generation are embracing Black colleges and universities. Yes, as Andre Henry said (pg 252) “Building Black-led institutions can provide a power base from which our people can work.” #Bravo to this young woman who chooses a nurturing environment instead of the “Ivies” where you feel like:
— they didn’t invite you there.
— they tolerate you.
— and every day you have to prove your existence has value.

 

Read:  All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep
….educate yourself

 

Andre Henry

11
Jun

#Non-fiction Henry Louis Gates jr.

JUNE

Stony the Road Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Finish date: 10 June 2022
Genre: nonfiction
Rating: A+++++++

Stony the Road (2019) (ISBN: 9780525559559)

 

Good News:
This was an absolutely stunning book!
Henry Louis Gates jr. is a Harvard professor
and an excellent literary historian.
The book reads like a novel!

 

Good news:
I discovered a wonderful writer: Henry Louis Gates jr.
His book would be an excellent choice for #NonFicNov challenge!
His contributions to the history of African American culture,
and in particular his inclusive approach to African American literature
are enlightening and enriching.

 

Good news:
When reading about….
Reconstruction (1865-1877)
Redemption (1870s… the return of white supremacy and
…the removal of rights for blacks) – …still happening today!
Birth of a New Negro (1895-1925) – excellent overview of Harlem Renaissance literature!
…that made me think of the quote by William Faulkner:

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

 

Personal:
I NEVER learned about the period
1865 – 1925 in school
…and the obstacles placed before the African-Americans on
that stoniest of roads.

Stony the Road.
Title: J.W. Johnson’s poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

I’m convinced I would have learned MORE by devouring a good
reading list….than hours and hours wasted in the classroom!
Teach your (high-school) children
….put this book on their reading list!

9
Jun

#Novel Mildred Pierce

JUNE

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cainby James M. CainJames M. Cain

Finish date: 08 June 2022
Genre: novel
Rating: A+++++
Review: Mildred Pierce (1941)  (ISBN: 9780752852041)

 

Good news: Gripping novel….I read every single page slowly
enjoying an unforgettable character: Mildred Pierce
…a once-affluent now down-on-her-luck divorcee in south California
who succeeds through hard graft to establish a restaurant chain.

 

Good news: James M. Cain created the most conniving, wicked and black-hearted daughter
you will ever meet…Mildred’s daughter Veda.

 

Personal: This is a tense, prickly roman noir in which all the characters have significant flaws.
The book is excellent and I just  ordered DVD so I can watch Joan Crawford’s Oscar winning performance Best Actress 1945.
Don’t miss this timeless classic nail-biter!! (Read book first….then the movie)

 

PS: Took this paperback from my mother’s bookshelf when Ileft USA to live in The Netherlands. Signet Books edition was printed in 1950. The pages are a fragile burnt yellow colour hanging on threads!   Mom loved this book. 
6
Jun

#Non-fiction Greg Tate

JUNE

FLYBOY IN THE BUTTERMILK ESSAYS ON CONTEMPORARY AMERICA by Greg Tate by Greg Tate Greg Tate

Finish date: 05 June 2022
Genre: Essays
Rating: B
Review: Flyboy in the Buttermilk (ISBN: 9781501136979)

 

Good news:
The book was a challenge….
for me there were many new concepts about art, literature and music
and a whole new “slanglanguage” vocabulary.

Greg Tate shows us that “criticism” can be a work of art.

 

Bad news:
Essays with words like poststructuralism and dadist in the first sentence are NOT
my idea of “off to a good start”. I have to google these words so I can
understand in simple terms what Greg Tate is going to talk about.
Many essays felt like homework.
Score: read 37 essays….and only liked 10…that is 27% of the book.

But every reader will always have their own preferences…you may like more

…essays than I did.

 

Personal:

Greg Tate (1957-2021) was leading voice on contemporary
Black music, art, literature, film, and politics since launching
his career at the Village Voice in the early 1980s.
Greg Tate is a writer with an encyclopaedic knowledge!
His perspective is Afrocentric.
He is more informed by genuine enthusiasm rather than savage arrogance.
He knows too much to be ignored.

This book demands attention
….it is not a book to dip into during your morning commute on the subway or
a lazy “beach read”. If you give Greg Tate some of your reading time….he will give
you so much to learn!
PS: favorite essay Harlem When it Sizzled (pg 184)
PS: title? Who is the lonesome flyboy from 1980s in the buttermilk? ….see page 235!
31
May

#Novella Thea Astley

JUNE

Beachmasters by Thea Astley by Thea Astley Thea Astley

Finish date: 31 May 2022
Genre: novella
Rating: D-
Review: Beachmasters (ISBN: 0140079122)

Bad news:
First few pages…did these pages hook me as a reader by hinting at what lies ahead? No…just a lot of ‘triple-speak” (languages pidgin, seaspeak, French/English)…later in the book “rainspeak and tearspeak”. Mentioning all these “quirky” languages felt gimmicky.
Astlely uses Gavi a 13 yr old boy rummaging around a box of old photos to give us the backstory about his family history that is locked in these Kodak moments. He discovers that he is ‘hapkas’ mixed-race. Not impresssed so far….

Good news:
Pg 64-77: Finally I have found a glimmer of good writing but had read almost 50% of the book before I reached this point. The rebellion from the POV from Headmaster Woodful was good. I did not feel for any of the characters, but finally found an emotional connection with this man. There is a sacrifice he made for the islanders that is apparent and he truly feels for the islanders.
Note: Ashley bookends her story: pg 1 and on pg 185 Gavi and Uncle Narota (instigator of the rebellion) say goodbye at the prison gate.

Bad news:
Page 78 – 174 is a series of chapters highlighting 9 different characters. The idea was to describe the island revolution from their POV’s . Character development was pretty much non existent…beige characters just dipping in and out of the narrative for a brief moment. Still not impresssed…

Personal:
So disappointed with this story.
I finished it b/c my goal is to read all 15 novels by Astley
I’ve read 12 and it is clear to me that Thea Astley’s first 6 books written 1958-1972 are the best.
After that she seems to …..run out of steam.

30
May

#Novel Grand Days

Finish date: 20 May 2022
Genre: Novel
Rating: D-
Review: Grand Days (ISBN: 9780143790907)

 

Quick Scan:

  • Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse….
  • not very enthusiastic  about reading this book.
  • …but I promised Brona’s Books I would at least give it a chance.
  • I read the introduction, acknowledgements and list of characters.
  • The plot revolves around a young Australian diplomat Edith
  • …her job in Geneva and the creation of The League of Nations after WW I.

 

Good news:

  1. I finished the book….but don’t ask me how many times I wanted to stop!

 

Bad news:

 

  1. This book published in 1993  failed to impress me.
  2. The story based on the early days of the League of Nations
  3. and all that were involved in its inception had potential.
  4. Unfortunately Frank Moorhouse decided it need some “spice”.
  5. Sex sells books…you already know that…
  6. but this erotic romance and sexual aspects of love
  7. between Edith and a cross-dressing Englishman written 30 years ago
  8. is #CringeWorthy.

 

Personal:

  • Style: the writing itself is repetitive, verbose, and excessive 
  • …670 tedious pages.
  • There are SO many great books to read….
  • …time make a cup of coffee and ….move on.

 

NOTES:

  • Here are some of my notes…..when I was still optimistic
  • …still hoping I’d found a book I could enjoy.
  • Stupid me.

 

Chapter 1:

  1. There was a lot to unpack in chapter one.
  2. Edith (26 yr) is the character to watch.
  3. She has created a list of “Ways” of Going  she must refine and practice.
  4. Ways of  Circumspection, All Doors, Compainable Confession, Cowardly Flight
  5. …just to name a few.
  6. These “Ways” felt very gimmicky and I do hope
  7. Moorhouse just uses them in the first chapter.
  8. I had to persevere through 12 pages of Edith trying to guess if her male
  9. companion on the train Paris–> Geneva was gay or not.
  10. #CringeWorthy writing.
  11. The chapter felt like a chess game   in which Edith and Ambrose
  12. start with flirtation….teasing….and end with seduction.
  13. The reader is waiting to see who will ….say: “Check mate”.
  14. Ambrose wants to titillate
  15. …..Edith wants to shock.
  16. But to learn if Edith will experience a change in character it is  important
  17. to learn what she is afraid of:
  18. — being seen as unworldly
  19. — not being considered equal to male companions/co-workers.
  20. We shall see…

 

 

Chapter 2: 

 

Internal dialoge:   What is Edith thinking…..but not always telling others.

  1. I have already made an enemy….behaved improperly. (pg 52)
  2. I have been made to look a fool… (pg 52)
  3. I can handle this crew, she thought, I am not fazed by these people. (pg 53)

 

Apologies /holds herself back many times

  1. She asked in hesitant voice, hoping she was not too forward… (pg 41)
  2. She felt then that she’d asserted enough for one day.
  3. She thought she’d better SHRINK back to being more charming and womanly… (pg 63)
  4. She regretted her boast as unwomanly, but moved quickly to undercut it (pg 65)
  5. She contemplated taking him (romantic evening)
  6. …but she held back her desire for further carnality (pg 69)

 

But….Edith is NOT A shrinking violet, not buy a long shot!

  1. She decided that she wanted things to unfold
  2. and shetakes the romantic leadership!
  3. She wanted to be experienced as a woman,
  4. …fully and finally, and this man would….do just nicely.
  5. Asks: “Will we dine together?” (pg 41)
  6. She leaned over and put her hand on Ambrose’s. (pg 62)
  7. Asks” “Perhaps we could do smth together at the week-end?” (pg 65)

 

I had to laugh at some of the euphemisms used:

  1. “…of the Greek way?” –  “…the way of Oscar Wilde?” (gay)
  2. “…they found their carnal way…”

 

Edith wants to be taken seriously, feel in control yet she sends out opposite signals!

  1. “..helpless laugh
  2.  “she admitted she hoped HE would guide her in her work
  3. “…I’m hear to learn. I am a bemused and lost colonial lass.”  (What?)

 

Chapter 3:  

  1. Getting more of an impression who Edith feels she is!
  2. Not a shrinking violet!
  3. Reads a book at a café table “…make it clear to anyone
  4. she is NOT an available woman.” (pg 75)
  5. When a man gazes at her thinking she was available
  6. (another cringeworthy euphemism), “part of the Traffic in Women”
  7. Edith’s internal dialogue reveals:
  8. “Perhaps she should experience that, going with
  9. …a man for money. Once” (78)

 

  1. I can’t help but feel Edith has an exaggerated sense of self-worth
  2. ...just full of herself!
  3. “Just appearing cosmopolitan was enough, for now.” (pg 78)
  4. “She felt  that her inner self was immensely empowered
  5. by her status as a League official…” (pg 78)
  6. Edith feels she is  NOT at the bottom of the food chain as an intern.
  7. She ponders about the messengers and Roneo operators….
  8. — “She would have to begin setting a mighty fine example.
  9. When she’d got “being international’ right, that is.” (pg 75)

 

  1. Finally there is some intrigue in the narrative.
  2. Stupidly Edith speaks to strangers at the café about the League
  3. …gives them her business card (name).
  4. Back at the office she get’s a proper dressing down from her superior.
  5. The ‘stranger’ sent her a gift: ladies handbag revolver!
  6. She shows it to Ambrose ….they argue…she must send it back!
  7. Edith feels a spurt of power having and firing a pistol….she’s going to keep it!
  8. I have a feeling this is NOT the ‘fine example’ she should be giving to others!
  9. Sounds like the start of trouble for our  ‘pretentious little Edith’ !