Tuesday, June 24, 2008


There is a french library not very far from my place. It's called Zadig and It's been a long time that I passed by and said I must go. Because I'm not a fast reader, a book at my night table stays a long time. Surprisingly the other night I noticed I have nothing left to read so the next saturday I said It was about time. It seemed that, to go there I had to pass many steps because on my way, I met a friend who was sitting outside of her hairdresser waiting her colour to be fixed, having a smoke (having a drink with her that very night, I noticed she had too much sun ... on the hair !) so I was afraid to miss the opening hours. It's not a big place but the choice is wide. Not by quantity but by subjects. Whenever I go inside a library, I just don't know what to choose. I have no idea, I have no memory whatsoever my friends suggested me and It's always this moment I don't carry my Moleskine notebook (I love those little things). So I started wandering inside, listening this father being told in english by the nice lady a book for his child (she made the story "live", was very funny), looking at the new visitors and their choice, tourists, and finally picked up one which I didn't know anything about, except that It is english translated in french, which is, normally, as bad as you might think It is. How do you want to translate english humour ? It's like putting the Eiffel Tower in the middle of Trafalgar Square, non-sense. Nevertheless I trusted the owner of the shop, who we can see, is a book addict and must read everyday more than I do in one year. He approved my choice and said he was a fan of the author and of his short stories and on my remark about the french translation, said I can go for it eyes closed. So this is it : Hector Hugh Munro (December 18, 1870November 13, 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, was a British writer, whose witty and sometimes macabre stories satirized Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and is often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. His tales feature delicately drawn characters and finely judged narratives. "The Open Window" may be his most famous, with a closing line ("Romance at short notice was her speciality") that has entered the lexicon. In addition to his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was the custom of the time, and then collected into several volumes) he also wrote a full-length play, The Watched Pot, in collaboration with Charles Maude ; two one-act plays; a historical study, The Rise of the Russian Empire, the only book published under his own name; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington ; the episodic The Westminster Alice (a Parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland), and When William Came, subtitled A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns, an early alternative history. He was influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, and Kipling, and himself influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward, and P. G. Wodehouse. What I took is, I would say, the "best of" of the short stories and the title in french is one of the story. But I'm sure you can find it in your language. The best thing of it is that I read it so fast, that now I have to go back to the library !

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