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28
Jul

#See you in September!

 

Time to enjoy vacation

…with heat waves + mocktails Shirley Temple

…watching movies and series on streaming

…reading back issues of The New Yorker

…making lists for Fall and Winter reading.

 

 

 

19
Jul

#Heat Wave 2022

July 18 2022 Europe….and I’m in the middle of this!

 

 

 

  • It is too HOT to sit down and write a long review.
  • I’m keeping my notes “short and sweet”!

 

JULY

Invisible Storm A Soldier's Memoir of Politics and Ptsd by Jason Kander by Jason Kander (no photo)

Finish date: 18 July 2022
Genre: memoir
Rating: B

Honest, raw, brave
Jason Kander is the poster child for a man recovering from PTSD.
He is persuasive and explores this difficult topic with honesty and simplicity.

PS Please also read:

Redeployment by Phil Klay by Phil Klay Phil Klay

Both Invisible Storm and Redeployment

are #MustReads…to understand what men women  sacrifice to serve USA.

13
Jul

#Paris in July 2022 Mini-reviews

 

  1. Les délaissés   (2020)-Thomas Porcher (non-fiction) – READ
  2. Update: book is a difficult read
  3. …but well worth the effort!
  4. Polishing my French reading skills this morning  @PorcherThomas
  5. Chapter 2 “La France de Banlieusards” is impressive
  6. …love Pocher’s insights.
  7. The man knows what he’s talking about…and it shows!
  8. He grew up in a “banlieu”…and through hard work and study
  9. …was able to become one of the best writers in France!

 

  1. La Guerre des idées (2021)Eugenie Bastié (French journalist for Le Figaro) READ
  2. Update: another book that was a difficult read…in chapter 2  I had to look up
  3. 20 names, mostly French philosophers and historians.
  4. I hope all this hard work pays off as I continue my reading.
  5. Can you name 3 French philosophers?  I can.

 

  1. Le fagot de ma mémoire –  (2021) S. B. Diagne – READ
  2. Update: book is a difficult read
  3. …but in this case NOT worth the effort!
  4. S. B. Diagne may be one of the 50 greatest thinkers of our time
  5. …but his memoire did not impress at all.

1
Jul

#Classic Honoré Balzac

JUNE

La Cousine Bette by Honoré de Balzac by Honoré de Balzac Honoré de Balzac

Finish date: 27 June 2022
Genre: novel
Rating: D


Good news:
Themes of revenge and deceit are classic in Balzac novels.
Marriage is not the happy state of equality.
Women are expected to be virtuous and men lying cheats.
The book is driven by deceived intimates who do not want to forgive
…and will never forget! I was going to list the main characters who were deceivers and the people they deceive…….it ’s ALL of them!
Book: Cousin Bette Her vengeance is palpable. She is the spin in the web ensnarling unsuspecting family members.

 

Good news:
Balzac gives us a vivd picture of the hypocracy and deception of marriage. He paints a devastating picture of marriage and love in the aristocracy in 19th C Paris. The book oozes Balzac’s calculated cynisme about the act (of marriage) that society enforces upon us.

 

Good news:
Lies are hardly the sole form of deception. Deliberate omissions with intent to mislead are much more prevalent! Deny infidelity, intentionally mislead spouses by not disclosing unfaithfulness..that is much easier than lying!
Book: Baron Hulot He can give us all a masterclass in this art of deceit.

 

Bad news:
I tried to follow the plots …subplots and even made a sketch of
who is deceiving whom? It was very complicated.  Book: Valerie  The top prize for deceit goes to this courtesan. Having become pregnant she decided to convince 5 lovers that each one was a potential father.

 

Bad news:
Character development was pretty much non-existent.
Baron Hulot was a sex addict and his wife was a saint…aka doormat. Neither one of them changed.
Everybody was either crying or grinding their teeth seething with revenge. There was very little subtlety.

 

Personal:
Thank goodness…that book is finished…. It was too long and
not very entertaining….in short, just awful.
If you want to read Balzac please select another book in La Comédie humaine. There are 90 novels and novellas to choose from and I enjoyed Les Chouans (1829, historical fiction) and Le Père Griot(1835). It felt like Balzac was “running out of steam” in 1846 when he wrote La Cousin Bette.

Thomas More in his Dialogue (1534) expressed exactly what I felt while reading this book.
While straws might float, they will not bear the weight of a drowning man.
Balzac was “grasping at straws” in an attempt to succeed in writing book nr 82 in the 90 novel/novella series.
PS: Preferred reading Zola’s series: Les Rougon-Macquart. Only 20 books…but so good!
Zola is a better writer than Balzac…. IMO.
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 – REVIEW
  5. Le Dieu de Dostoïevski Marguerite Souchon
  6. Profession du père – Sorj Chalandon (France) – REVIEW
  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 

              

 

 

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!

 

20
Jun

#Classic Victor Hugo

JUNE

Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné by Victor Hugo by Victor Hugo Victor Hugo

Finish date: 19 June 2022
Genre: novella
Rating: A+++++

Good news:
I was surprised how easy this book was to read in French. If you want to polish up your basic French reading skills this is THE book to start. Topic was straight forward: plea to end the death penalty
…and the POV of a condemned man. He decides to keep a journal of is “monologue intéreur” ….with the rationale being “What have I got to lose?”

Good news:
Victor Hugo is one of the best writers. In this book the “tour de force’ were his descriptions of the prison cell, being bound in chains, visits by the prison chaplain who was on auto-pilot…doesn’t give a hoot about the convict’s soul, the guillotine, the blade and how the pulls and trolleys have to be well greased! Just chilling.

Bad news:
There were chapters near the end filled with memories and dreams/nightmares. The convict is quickly approaching “l’instant fatal” and appears to be confusing his visions/dreams with reality. Interesting but these pages did not have the shock effect that pervades in the rest of the book.

Personal:
Powerful…that is the only word I can use to describe this novella. Victor Hugo wants you to be there
…when the convict’s hands are tired, when his hair is shaved off, when he is transported in a “charrette” to the scaffold. You as reader must be there when his head is on the ground and his body is still at the chopping block.
#MustRead Classic

PS: Good reading tip the November challenge #NovNov or #ParisInJuly

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