Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bookmark this!

Check this out! Oh, this blog is so much fun. Bookshelf is devoted entirely to (of course) interesting and inventive bookcases! Thanks so much to Alexandra for passing on the link. I want them all - but this has to be my favourite. Isn't it classy?

Are you on the case? How many have you read?

The Telegraph has just complied a list of the 50 crime writers you must read before you die. Their main criteria? Crime writers who could actually write. It's a nice ecclectic mix and the panel also helpfully includes a title suggestion to start with if the author is new to you. Among the classics by Chesterton, Dickens, and Wilkie Collins, there are representatives of the Golden Age in Christie, Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh and the expected hardboiled, noirish Americans such as Hammett and Chandler. It's also nice to see Jim Thompson acknowledged; The Killer Inside Me is a terrific read. I'm likewise happy to see lesser known (but very funny) Edmund Crispin and Michael Innes make the list; their mysteries are great for bibliophiles, containing as many literary allusions as corpses. And then there are a few intriguing names that I'm unfamiliar with, but must check out. Kyril Bonfiglioli for example, whose antihero is described as having "the manner of a demented Bertie Wooster and the morals of a polecat." Or Janwilliem van der Wetering who writes about musical cops in Amsterdam. And though I've read several books by Julian Barnes and John Banville, I've never read their mystery novels written under their crime aliases Dan Kavanagh and Benjamin Black respectively. Could I have twenty snow days please?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Escaping into some great YA books

This is the time of year when I catch up on my YA reading. Since I don't sell kids books, they aren't always at the top of my priority reading list, but I help out at a couple of teachers' shows this month and want to be able to recommend and talk about as many books as I can. And good YA books always remind me of long, lazy childhood summers; nice memories to reflect on during these snowy winter days. Here are some fabulous YA novels that I've recently devoured:

Meg Rosoff is currently my favourite YA author and she is definitely one of those cross-over writers whose books could also comfortably sit in the adult fiction sections. I absolutely adored How I Live Now and her latest, What I Was, falls very much into the same rich, imaginative vein. She makes me nostalgic for all the Famous Five adventures that I read as a child, except that her writing is far more sophisticated than Blyton's. But she taps into that same sense of incredulous wonder and envy that I had back then (and still carry) for fictional kids that exude a nonchalant, mature self-sufficiency. The narrator is a 16 year old boy living miserably in a boarding school on the coast of England. One day he encounters Finn, a young teen living entirely alone in a hut by the shore and the two strike up an odd, somewhat reserved friendship. Adventures follow, mostly revolving around the ferocious and very cold sea. The two paddle out to pull in fishing nets, struggle against the incoming tides, and search for the ruins of a submerged town. Then Finn falls sick and the narrator's attempts to get help end up changing both their lives in completely unexpected ways. Rosoff is terrific at evoking the landscape and the weather of this part of England and subtly introduces a theme of ecological consciousness into the story that makes it topical without being preachy. Highly recommended for readers of both sexes, YA or adult.

Siobhan Dowd, who sadly died last year, has written two completely different kinds of novels. A Swift Pure Cry is a moving tale about Shell, a naive, motherless teenager trying to raise her siblings in rural Ireland. Then she becomes pregnant and has to hide it from her father and the town. The resulting scandal has implications not only for her own life but that of a young priest who has tried to help her. The relationship between the siblings is wonderfully written and this novel has one of the most exuberant endings I've read in a long time. Beautifully written and award winning. The paperback will be out in September.
Completely different in style and tone is The London Eye Mystery. Ted is a young autistic boy who is obsessed with anything to do with the weather. When his visiting cousin Salim expresses a wish to go up on the London Eye, Ted and his older sister Kat watch him from the ground, their eyes peeled on his pod. Only Salim never gets off. The two siblings then have to figure out how he could have disappeared and why. Ted is an original, charming creation and half the fun of this novel is getting inside his head as he uses his knowledge about weather systems to logically make sense of the world. Great fun.
Dowd still has a few new books to come that she finished before her death. The Bog Child will be available in Canada in September, but it's now out in the U.K. and you can read an early review from avid blogger, dovegreyreader here.

When I was young I always wanted a sister and my parents being extremely unobliging, I was forced to bond with fictional ones in the pages of Little Women or the "Little House" books, or Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family stories. So these next two selections were a pure delight to read.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall, is set in contemporary America, but has the feel of an old-fashioned, British summer tale. Four motherless sisters and their father rent a cottage for their three week vacation that is on the grounds of Arundel, a fancy mansion in the Berkshires. They become friends of the lonely boy who lives next door and end up having a series of madcap adventures. I love how Birdsall has portrayed the unique personalities of each of the sisters; the awkwardness of Rosalind the eldest, interested in a boy for the first time; Skye, the vulnerable tomboy; Jane the wistful, romantic writer with shades of Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, and Batty, the precocious four year old, who is simply adorable. These sisters have a matter-of-fact way of dealing with their predicaments that is completely refreshing. Just normal kids having good old, summer fun with nary a television set or computer in sight. The absentminded father is also very funny. I'm very much looking forward to reading the sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, due out in April.

And finally there's the terrific Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. Blume , just out in paperback. Cornelia is a lonely girl living in Greenwich Village whose mother is a famous concert pianist and often away on tour. She makes friends with her new eccentric neighbour Virginia, who shares her love of dictionaries and long, unusual words. Every room in Virginia's apartment is richly decorated with souvenirs from her world-wide travels with her sisters and Cornelia is enchanted by Virginia's stories, which give her the courage to break out of her shy shell and confront her distant mother. This is truly armchair (or Moroccan daybed) travel fiction for the YA reader, which will hopefully inspire them with travel and adventure dreams of their own. And you'll probably have to pull out a dictionary yourself from time to time. For fans of Chris Riddell's Ottoline series.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lost in a classic?

Over at the blog A Different Stripe, which is written by the publishing folks at New York Review of Books, they have a post about the TV series Lost with a preview of an upcoming episode in which one of the characters is seen reading this book - The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Cesares, translated by Ruth L.C. Simms. Now, I don't watch Lost, but have seen numerous commercials for the series and so have a vague idea of what it's about. But I have read the novel and if the show is referencing it, then I think I know exactly what it's all about (and you could too!). It is also a great book to pick up during this Oscar week (the novel inspired several film-makers and the homage to the beautiful Louise Brooks on the cover is entirely intentional). It's quite short - you could mute the hours of pre-show babble and read this marvellous story instead. I won't give anything away; suffice it to say that it's set on an isolated island where strange things seem to be happening and posits, with fascinating conviction, an entirely new way to approach reality, creative or otherwise. If you have an interest in cinema, this is a must-read.
It curiously reminded me of another take on the poreous conception of reality, which is Tom McCarthy's completely compelling and utterly original novel Remainder. Also a very difficult novel to describe. A man is awarded an enormous sum of money in damages after being hit on the head by falling debris. What he chooses to do with his money is the crux of the story and is unlike anything you'll have ever read before. Wildly entertaining with energetic prose, mind-boggling concepts and a wild, crazy, unforgettable ending. I'd love to see what a clever film-maker could do with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then here's 70,000 of them...

Excuse me for my absence - life is hectic...

Owing to my love, no lust, of jazz, when I get to experience something about "America's Classical Music" between book covers I reach a state of nirvana.

Recently Toronto artist/painter/printmaker Stefan Berg's wordless novel, Let That Bad Air Out: Buddy Bolden's Last Parade was released from Porcupine's Quill Books. It's a stunning depiction of what Berg imagines Buddy Bolden's last performance was like. Berg created a narrative through 70 individual images.

A little context: Buddy Bolden is a mythical figure in the history of jazz who is considered to be the first great jazz cornet soloist. There are no recordings of him, though some claim there was an Edison cylinder made of Bolden and his band but it has never been found. From the late 1890's to 1907 Buddy Bolden was the most prominent cornet player in New Orleans but began to slowly go insane due to alcohol and mental problems. The parade Stefan Berg has recreated in his book is said to be the last time Bolden ever brought a cornet to his lips. He spent the last 24 years of his life in an insane asylum. But the stories of his life have survived him and maintained his place in the history of jazz.

I interviewed Stefan Berg by email to find out what drew him to this iconic story and he told me that: "Michael Ondaatje's novel, Coming Through Slaughter stimulated my interest in the legend of Buddy Bolden. I wanted to create a silent novel about a particular sound and express the energy of a New Orleans parade through still images."

Here are a few images from the book:

This is a stunning visual experience that transcends the graphic novel genre.

I'd suggest you listen to some early Bunk Johnson or Freddie Keppard while experiencing this book to get a feel for the sounds of New Orleans in the French Quarter in the early 1900's.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Powerful picture books. . .

We'll see how Atonement does at the Oscars next weekend (it just might squeak in as Best Picture if the votes are split between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood). However, if you've seen the movie or read the book and would like another story about the evacuation at Dunkirk, check out this recent and beautiful re-issue of Paul Gallico's classic tale, The Snow Goose, with illustrations by Angela Barrett. I was recently showing this to a teacher who read the story to her class every Remembrance Day because she had loved it as a child and she thought the illustrations were perfect. If Barrett's work looks familiar, you might recognize it from Josephine Poole's retelling of the story of Anne Frank. She has also collaborated with Poole on Joan of Arc.

Fred Vargas - Mystery writer extraordinaire

The Guardian has a terrific interview in their weekend review with bestselling French crime writer Fred Vargas. Among the topics covered are her very strange childhood with a father who wrote books about surrealists and limited his children's reading to mythology, folktales and 17-century baroque poetry. I think Vargas's books are simply terrific and urge you to give her a try if you are on the prowl for a new mystery voice. P.D. James, Ruth Rendall and in particular Reginald Hill fans will love Vargas, due to the complexities of her plots, the fascinating background stories of her characters and her engaging and grumpy protoganist Commissaire Adamsberg who, unlike other detectives burdened with the odd sidekick or two, seems to have an entire department of eccentric co-workers. A great place to start is Wash This Blood Clean From My Hands, which partly takes place in Ottawa and Hull. The real treat in this novel is riding along with Adamsberg who, suspected of a crime he did not commit, has to elude the Quebec police and the RCMP and get on a plane back to Paris to clear his name. Wonderfully ingenious plotting and great fun. Her latest book is This Night's Foul Work which starts with two dead drug dealers but ends up delving into psychological doubles, childhood memories gone wrong, and a ghoulish search for the elixer of everlasting youth. I'm also fond of The Three Evangelists about an opera singer who wakes up one morning to unexpectedly find a tree planted in her backyard. She calls on her neighbours - the three evangelists of the title - to dig it up to see if anything has been buried under it. They find nothing but then the singer goes missing. What is so wonderful about this novel is that the three reluctant sleuths are unemployed historians sharing a house to save on rent, and each is obsessed with his own particular era of study - prehistoric, medieval and WW1. The witty banter and bickering between them, peppered with historical allusions and jokes is a complete treat.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now that's a stairway to heaven. . .

Sorry to be so obsessed with shelving at the moment (we'll get back to book recommendations soon, I promise) but OHMYGOD! Look at this staircase (read about the construction and see more pictures of this at )

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Storage Fantasies. . .

I've always thought that the ceiling was an under-utilized storage space and who doesn't need more shelving for their books? Thanks to Kimbooktu for the link which led me to a fun decorating website, which is chock full of innovative ideas and photos of some pretty gorgeous living spaces. It also has an article on 8 small space shelving ideas which you can read here. I am so craving this door:

And I'm strangely attracted to this See-Saw bookshelf if one only had the room. And the money! (but then if you had the money, you'd probably have the room. But booklovers will never really be minimalists, will they?)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Livres de jour. . .

Just back from a trip to Ottawa where we sold the summer lists and displayed our wares at a teacher's show. The trains were delayed both ways (allowing me to finish almost 200 pages of War and Peace), and I arrived home to find my car inextricably encased in a snowbank, but it was a busy show and the Ottawa librarians are always fun to visit. I'd like to give a little plug for Chez Lucien, a lovely, cozy French bistro at the eastern corner of the Market (at Murray and Dalhousie), which was first recommended to me by an Ottawa librarian (quite a few of them hang out there) and which has the added bonus of being open (along with its kitchen) after the normal lunch period. Two hungry and tired reps desperately in need of substinence after packing up the booth and preparing for a five hour train ride on which the food offerings are minimal at best, were very grateful. I highly recommend their burgers which come with salads and great frites.
Ottawa always works on my French language deficiency guilt. In Montreal, I just tend to feel like a dumb tourist; in Ottawa, I feel as if I'm somehow not living up to my civic duty. But there's so little opportunity to practice French in Toronto. So I make up for it by always trying to buy some French literature as my reading skills far outweigh my speaking ones. Last time I was in Ottawa, a French rep recommended some delightful children's books by Bénédicte Guettier featuring L'inspecteur Lapou, a rabbit who solves mysteries in the vegetable garden. I bought a collection of the tales in an anthology called Les Enquêtes du Potager.

I love the world weariness of Inspecteur Lapou. He looks as if he were the estranged French uncle of Peter Rabbit, his longer blue coat heavy on his shoulders, as if he carried not only all the worries of the silly vegetables on his back, but also the responsibility of upholding the dignity of all fictional rabbits since time immortal. These tales are great fun. I bought my copy at Librairie du Soleil in the Market, but I'm sure they are also available at French bookstores in Montreal and Toronto.
Always a sucker for beautifully packaged books, I couldn't help but be drawn to a series of Folio books, published by Gallimard, that were displayed right by the cash register. They were advertised as limited editions of classic books and they consist of the paperback along with a small brochure of autobiographical information about the author. But look at the slipcases that they come with! (As you can see below, I couldn't resist buying several).

So beautiful, so tactile. You can feel the flocked velvet and the cracks between the subway tiles. They look so decadent and mysterious lined up without their titles facing. I can't help gazing at them with the unabashedly greedy pleasure of a bookcollector. (And yes, I do plan to read them!) There were also books in the series by writers in translation such as Hemingway and Karen Blixen, but I only wanted to collect the French writers.
From left to right, the books are:
L’étranger by Albert Camus ( I love how the shiny foil slipcase, held in the right light, mimics the glare of the sun in Meursault's eyes - this was the first full novel I ever read in French and it still retains its narrative and philosophical power).
Terre des hommes by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (because who didn't love Le Petit Prince and want more?)
La vie devant soi by Romain Gary (I've never read this prolific writer, but this novel won the Prix Goncourt and I find it interesting that he was married to the troubled actress Jean Seberg who was so terrific in Goddard's Breathless and Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse. Plus the flocked velvet slipcase is so luxurious to caress.)
Zazie dans le métro by Raymond Queneau (how perfect are those subway tiles? I've read his wonderfully quirky Exercises in Style in English and have always wanted to read more by this founder of the experimental writing group, Oulipo.
Un barrage contre le Pacifique by Marguerite Duras. (It's hard to tell from the photo, but the slipcase actually feels like palm fronds. This novel continues more of the territory she explored in The Lover, about growing up in colonial Indochina).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2008 Preview - New Classics (no not an oxymoron)

I've spent most of the past two weeks completely immersed in Tolstoy. I had chosen War and Peace as my big book to leisurely read in 2008, but I accelerated the project when I found out that Cinematique was showing Sergei Bondarchuk's mammoth seven hour 1965 film version. It was quite a marvellous experience to see it on the big screen - the best battle scenes I've ever witnessed in a film, a fantastic score, and some very interesting, experimental cinematography). While the recent Modern Library edition with the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky has been getting great reviews, it's just too heavy to fit in my purse, or to lie comfortably on my chest in bed, and so I decided instead to go with the 3-volume Everyman edition translated by Aylmer and Louise Maude. I like the fact that the two actually knew Tolstoy.

Which is my segue into the main subject of my post - a sneak preview into the "new" classics coming out this year. I make a conscious effort to choose a classic for every tenth book that I read ("classic" loosely defined in my own terms as anything written before I was born with The Classics being enduring books that are continually referenced by critics, writers, filmmakers, playwrights, musicians etc.) Everyone has their own sense of what a classic means to them as a reader; what I hope every good reader (and writer) acknowledges, is how important the classics are to understanding and appreciating our contemporary literature. They are also fairly indispensable to anyone working in the book industry. If a book's jacket is going to call a novel "Shandyesque" or celebrates how well it evokes Dickensian London, it helps if you've read Laurence Sterne or Bleak House. Plus you know that for the most part, if a book has stayed in print for decades or centuries, it has obvious lasting appeal power. But classics aren't just a enticing glimpse into the past - they continue to have relevance with our contemporary obsessions, and often trends in popular and literary culture are inspired or pulled directly from them. And this is why publishers continue to reissue and repackage the classics or keep an eye out for those lost gems that are due for a rediscovery. And why I personally collect a number of classic lines such as Persephone Books (seen the trailer yet for the upcoming Frances McDormand/Amy Adams movie Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day? Persephone brought that book back into print); Hesperus Books (they specialize in small novellas - perfect for travel reading. Going to the opera? Hesperus publishes Merimee's Carmen and Prevost's Manon Lescaut among their many titles, and check out their amazing collections of Bronte juvenalia. You think you know Charlotte Bronte? Read The Spell); Virago Modern Classics which have introduced me to some fantastic 20th century women writers, and Folio Society Books because they are just plain gorgeous.

But one of the thrilling parts of my job is actually getting to sell some great classic imprints. One of the most beautifully packaged lines are the beforementioned Everymans. They are cloth covered hardcovers, (terrific for libraries) with beautiful, creamy, acid-free paper, a ribbon bookmark, and with good introductions, bibliographies, and historical timelines. They look majestic all lined up on a shelf; nothing furnishes a library more. Apparently Richard Burton gave a whole set as a wedding gift (can't remember for which wedding) to Elizabeth Taylor. Everyman has just come out with The Complete Novels of Flann O'Brien which includes At Swim Two-Birds, The Third Policeman and in particular, The Dalkey Archive which I've always wanted to read, considering that yet another respected classics and international literature publisher took its name from that novel. (I've just gone to Dalkey's website and their namesake novel, which they also publish, is described as "the best comic fantasy since Tristram Shandy"). See? Hot on the heels of the critical acclaim for Hermione Lee's biography of Edith Wharton, Everyman is also reissuing The Age of Innocence, and The House of Mirth, and publishing a lovely threesome of novellas consisting of Ethan Frome, Summer, and The Bunner Sisters, with an introduction by Hermione Lee. In May, an edition of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley will be published coupled with her first novel, The Professor.

NYRB Classics has a lot of really exciting works to look forward to this year. This is an imprint that publishes their books with a lot of love, beautiful covers, and savvy professionalism. Coming next month are two new Guy de Maupassant books (come on, we all read "The Necklace" in high school). Afloat is a travel memoir about cruising along the French Mediterranean. Alien Hearts, Maupassant's final work, is the story of three lovers bound by bitterness and passion. If you are a fan of Edith Wharton, you might want to check out Belchamber by Howard Sturgis, a friend of Wharton's, whose 1904 novel is a satire of the English ruling class. The novel I'm most looking forward to is Stefan Zweig's The Post-Office Girl. I find the cover completely haunting, and this story of a dissatisfied girl in post WWI Austria and her relationship with a war veteran, fits completely into my interest in WWI literature. This novel has never been published in English before. Another intriguing novel that will be out later this month is Victor Serge's Unforgiving Years, also never before translated into English. It follows a group of characters from pre WWII Paris, to Leningrad under siege by the Nazis, to Berlin and then to Mexico after the war and is billed as a cross between Celiné and le Carré. Have you seen the intricate, suspenseful movie, The Prestige or read the book by Christopher Priest? An earlier work, The Inverted World, will be out this summer. This looks like a lot of fun, set in a city that needs to constantly move along tracks or it will die. When it was first published in 1974, the London Tribune said it had, "one of the trickiest and most astonishing twist endings in modern SF". Can't wait. Also on the horizon is Vladimir Sorokin's The Queue which is about a group of people in line, but for what, they have no idea. NYRB also publishes children's classics and the poster I had up at OLA of James Thurber's The 13 Clocks elicited more squeals of delight than almost any other book in our booth. How can you resist a tale about an evil duke who believes he has killed time? This new edition will have an introduction by Neil Gaiman. And finally, how perfect is this? For all those like me who are tackling War and Peace, you can turn to Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign by Philippe-Paul de Segur. Tolstoy used this eye-witness account, written by a young aide-de-campe to Napoleon, as major source material for his novel.

For some Canadian classics, The New Canadian Library has recently undergone a make-over with new covers and trim size, but it has also brought back some novels that have been out of print. Of these, I highly recommend The Clockmaker by Thomas Chandler Haliburton, originally published in 1836, which introduces Sam Slick of Slickville as he tours 19th century Nova Scotia or Brian Moore's The Luck of Ginger Coffey, the 1960 Governor General's award winning novel about a fortune-hunter in Montreal. And it being the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, it will be all Anne, all the time - at least in this country. But that will be the subject of another post.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

OLA wrap-up, recovery, and revelation. . .

Whew, one show down. And a very successful and busy one despite the bad weather on Friday. But then librarians are nothing if not resilient. Thanks to everyone who came out to both of our Dewey sessions (especially through the snowstorm on Friday morning) , and for all the kind and encouraging comments you passed on to us about our presentations, former picks of ours that you'd read and similarily loved, and even this blog! We all felt a lot of love.

I had to spend a lot of time in our booth, but did manage to catch a bit of Ami McKay's session where she talked about the role that research (and librarians and archivists) plays in her work, both The Birth House (which won the OLA's Evergreen award) and also her next novel, The Virgin Cure, which I can't wait to read. Loosely based on the life of her great-great-grandmother, it will explore the lives of early women doctors in the 19th century and the prejudices they had to overcome to receive their education and practice their profession. The title comes from the belief that if men who had syphilis slept with a virgin, even a child, they would be cured. Ami is a wonderfully warm and engaging author and has a terrific blog called Incidental Pieces that I urge you all to check out.
There were a number of other speakers at OLA that I couldn't get to, including Carl Honore and Elizabeth May, but John Miedema did, and wrote about them at his blog Slow Reading. And congratulations to Sharron Smith from Kitchener Public Library who was crowned Librarian of the Year for all her work with Readers' Advisory. Sharron has been a big supporter of the Deweys for years and we're all thrilled for her well-deserved honour!

After several late nights, and running on adreneline and too much caffeine all through the show, I've been taking it "slow" myself this weekend, and relaxing on my couch with some new DVDs. But one can never quite get away from the literary world (which is why I love it so much). I first watched Truffaut's Day for Night which is a very funny and reverant take on the film industry and all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes. It also reveals some of the technical tricks of filmmaking. But at one point the character of a British insurance man appears, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Graham Greene. Could it be? I put the movie on pause, and turned to the index of his recent collection of letters, edited by Richard Greene. Sure enough, he was in the French Riveria at the time and wanted to meet Truffaut. Truffaut's assistant cast him as an extra without telling the director until after the scene was shot. Next up was a PBS documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik. I became especially interested in Wright's life after reading the novel Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (which Sharron Smith has been unrelentingly recommending to everyone in earshot all fall) and it's quite a wonderful documentary with equal portions focusing on Wright's tumultous personal life, along with an evaluation of his incredible work. It was great to see so many archival photos of early houses and buildings including Tallesin, where much of Loving Frank takes place. Finally, I watched Love, Etc, a movie based actually more on Julian Barnes' novel Talking it Over which is his prequel to Love, Etc. Both deal with the friendship between two men that is threatened and complicated when they fall in love with the same woman, who flipflops in her affection between the two of them. In the movie version, starring the always interesting Charlotte Gainsbough, her real-life husband Yvan Attal, and Charles Berling, the characters and locale are moved to France, but this makes perfect sense, not only because Barnes has a natural and literary affinity with the country, but in a movie that mostly revolves around talk, philosophy and love - the subject seems tailormade for a French movie. I enjoyed it very much. And I think my mind is now rested enough to tackle some reading again.