Archive for Canterbury Tales

récits du vieux royaume [book review]

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2021 by xi'an

Following my enthusiastic reading of Jaworski’s Gagner la Guerre at the start of the first lockdown last year (!), I read this March the short stories at the beginning of a single volume called Récits du Vieux Royaume, which I found even better for the care in the writing style, the originality and diversity of the stories, the strong connection with traditional folklore and with the woes and worries of rural people, some of which could have been those of my not-so-remote ancestors, the mostly subtle insertion of details on the . (The connection with role game scenarios is close to invisible here.) It is only when reaching the second half of this book that I realised it contained the book I had bought and read last year. Rather than additional jewels…

“Elle racontait des histoires anciennes, des chroniques séculaires, des légendes à demi oubliées, ensevelies dans un passé fabuleux. Elle racontait la Geste de Leodegar le Resplendissant, ses batailles, ses victoires, l’union des clans autour du jeune héros habité par le souffle d’un dieu. Elle racontait le Vieux Royaume à l’époque de sa splendeur, Chrysophée aux murailles dorées, la prospérité et l’harmonie des campagnes, les forteresses orgueilleuses des trois duchés. Aux heures froides de la nuit elle racontait parfois les heures terribles de la guerre des Grands Vassaux, les morts marchant mêlés aux vivants dans les armées de Malvern, Chrysophée incendiée dans le soir, les derniers héros de Leomance, de Kahad Burg et de Valanael, ivres d’horreur et de désespoir, livrant combat pour défendre la berge de la Listrelle..”


Posted in pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , on July 12, 2015 by xi'an


summer reads (#2)

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by xi'an

As mentioned in a previous blog, I only packed four books in my suitcase in early July. Among those, Richard Ford’s A Piece of my Heart, and Niccolo Ammaniti’s La Fête du Siècle (Che la festa cominci). I also bought Dan Simmons’s Hyperion in the (same) nice bookshop near Bondi Junction in Sydney, Berkelouw Books.

Whoever it was, though, didn’t have no business being here. I’ll tell you that. I’ll tell you that right now.A Piece of my Heart, R. Ford

A Piece of my Heart is the first novel written by Richard Ford and I did not even know about it. (I happen to have bought it perchance in a closing bookshop in Bristol selling every book there for two pounds!) I feel it is quite different from the other novels of Richard Ford I read so far. A Piece of my Heart is quite harsh and bleak in a Southern (U.S.) way, making one feel all characters (esp. men) are doomed from the start and that there is no use fighting against this… This makes their actions and decisions unpredictable and mostly irrational, but there is a kind of beauty in seeing them succumbing to this doom. I also found there is a sort of Faulknerian feeling in the novel, particularly in the character of Mr. Lamb, an old recluse living on an island that does not even exist on official maps. The tragic and foreseeable ending of the book is actually announced in the very first pages, but this does not make A Piece of my Heart less fascinating to read. Because this is not what matter…

There’s a legend that Cowboy Gibson did it before the Core seceded.Hyperion, D. Simmons

I finished reading Hyperion in the plane back home. This again is a (1989) book I had not heard of until I saw it in the Gollancz 50 series (which delivers at a low price the “best” 50 books in science-fiction and fantasy, like Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, its only drawback being a vivid and ugly yellow color!) I do not often read space opera sci’fi’, however this book is a masterpiece that completely deserves its inclusion in the Gollancz 50 series… Hyperion offers a complex plot, compelling characters, an interesting universe, a credible political structure, and, above all, relates quite strongly and openly to literary history, from Chauncer’s Canterbury Tales, to H.G. Wells, to William Gibson’s Neuromancer, to Philip K. Dick (and Blade Runner), and to Keats as a central figure. Plus interesting plays on religions and beliefs. The book does not conclude, as there is a sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, that I will most certainly read.

La Fête du Siècle (Che la festa cominci) is an hilarious book by Niccolo Ammaniti that I can only classify as picaresque, given the accumulation of well-drawn characters and of fantastic events that build throughout the book. It is very different from the much more intimate Io non ho paura, however La Fête du Siècle reads very well and offers a very harsh criticism of the Berlusconi era and of the new social class it created. From nouveaux riches to would-be Satanists (all) looking for recognition or at least a few minutes of fame on TV… And meeting their end in a grandiose way. (I do not know if this book has been translated into english.) I read it in a few hours during my vacation week along the Great Ocean Road. And am still laughing at the comedy it exposed.