Sunday, October 16, 2011

Books in a Train Station

These are the things that I can read in French: romance novels and the free newspapers they hand out in the metro. I think this is what being someone who doesn’t like to read is like—it took me twelve hours of straight reading to get through a romance novel.

Still, I’m a little bit proud of myself. I think this is the first time I’ve gotten through a novel in French simply for pleasure. I’ve read Mme Bovary in French, but that was for a class and I wanted to gouge my eyes out. Any other time I’ve read in French for fun it’s been short stories, poetry or occasionally a graphic novel, which, while worthy mediums, are not quite as long.

Which brings me to another point. This generalization may be highly off-base, but where are all the French fantasy authors? There are plenty of policiers (cop novels) in the little bookstores in the Gare Montparnasse in Paris, where I am writing this post, but only one of them had any fantasy or sci-fi. Of that section, I recognized nearly all the names as being Anglophone authors. Robert Jordan. George R. R. Martin. Tolkien. Heinlein. Gaiman. Terry Pratchett. Douglas Adams. I’m going to try Castela or Ombres Blanches, the two large bookstores in Toulouse and see if they have a better selection. (Also, to my fantasy friends: am I going to regret trying to read George R. R. Martin in French?)

This leads me to one final note on books, based once again, solely on my very bored and very unscientific perusal of Montparnasse’s bookstore offerings. The French seem to read much more “literature” than we do. Every bookstore had a fairly large section (about the same size as the section dedicated to children’s lit) dedicated to “Livres de Poche,” a brand known for publishing classic literature at low prices. (For instance, I bought a copy of Mme Bovary, Adolphe by Benjamin Constant and a third classic that I can’t remember for one of my classes two years ago. Altogether, I paid twelve euros for three books). If these small bookstores (about the size of my bedroom) have decided that the classic literature deserves the space, it must mean that they sell. Otherwise, they’d put in another cooler of Coke.

See? Aren’t you proud of me? I went an entire blog post without talking about food. But that will change. Next post is about one of the best meals I have ever had.

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