Whereas when I read a book in English it is invariably the result of a recommendation or a connection with something else I have read, I keep finding contemporary books in French about which, because I don't regularly read French newspapers or follow the French media, I know nothing. I simply find them on the shelves of the Oxfam bookshop in Chapel Place which, unlike Hall's down the road, seems to have good source of books in foreign languages. This random approach to reading appeals to me and reminds me of the time when I first discovered libraries and searched the shelves for anything that "felt" good with an opening sentence that made me want to read on.
The guilty but enjoyable sensation of watching, walking past in the street, someone you know who doesn't suspect that she is under observation. Is she behaving differently? Almost certainly.
I re-applied your selection process sixteen or seventeen years after the event:
Je vais entrer ici dans le vif du sujet, sans autre forme de procès. L'Assistant, au Jardin d'Acclimitisation, qui s'interesse aux pythons, m'avait dit:
"Je vous encourage fermement à continuer, Cousin. Mettez tout cela par écrit, sans rien cacher, car rien n'est plus émouvant que l'expérience vécue et l'observation directe. Évitez surtout toute littérature, car le sujet en vaut la peine."
Twas the early nineties and I was paying one of my regular visits to Grant and Cutler, looking for books in French set in the twentieth century. Not only did they have to satisfy me but I had to have two copies - one for me and one for my exotically named teacher, Aida. Somehow this book made the kind of impression you describe.
It's the only real success I've enjoyed doing French. I read it and it made me laugh. Even Aida laughed and she was a tough roe to hoe. Both my teacher and the other student in my Hereford French class read it and laughed. You too read it and you laughed.
It is of course Gros Calin and opening it up to transcribe those opening paras grievously tempts me to re-read it for the fifth or sixth time. But I've work to do.
NOTE Sorry about the deletion; there was a small error in the penultimate sentence and I wanted this to be perfect.
Thank you for you elegant comment and for reminding me of Gros Calin with its thought-provoking opening lines. It certainly gave me great pleasure, and I am still laughing at it as I remember it. A great discovery. I would not in the meantime wish to interrupt your work. I for one look forward to finding out what happens to Judith, which I don't doubt your work is about.
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