November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
Dear Mr. Maxwell,
I am dreadfully upset by the following coincidence. The Olympia Press (headquartered in Paris) are bringing out LOLITA, a novel of mine, on which I have worked for four years and which is scheduled to appear by September the 1st. Before I sold them the book, it had been seen by Viking, New Directions, Straus and Doubleday, and not only by their readers but also by the friends of their readers. There is a story entitled LOLITA in the last issue of The New Yorker by Dorothy Parker.
Please do find out if the term “coincidence” I have used above needs some qualifications; and in any case would you consider my contributing a note in regard to both Lolitas to your Department of Corrections and Amplification? Or any other appeal, complaint, yelp or distress? read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Delaney Allen
October 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
June 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
I went out during the day and recorded sounds that I thought might be useful and evocative. It turned out that most of the sounds – even the church organ in Southwark Cathedral – seemed to converge around a common rhythm. It’s a bit too good to be true – that every large city should have its own rhythm, but here it is.
the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s profiles of five types of book thieves: the kleptomaniac who cannot keep himself from stealing; the thief who steals for profit; the thief who steals in anger; the casual thief; and the thief who steals for his own personal use
May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
Guy Abeille, age 62, a former senior Budget Ministry official and “the inventor of the concept, endlessly repeated by all governments whether of the right or the left, that the public deficit should not exceed 3% of the national wealth,” told the newspaper –
We came up with the 3% figure in less than an hour. It was a back of an envelope calculation, without any theoretical reflection. Mitterrand needed an easy rule that he could deploy in his discussions with ministers who kept coming into his office to demand money. […] We needed something simple. 3%? It was a good number that had stood the test of time, somewhat reminiscent of the Trinity. read more
FILM: Yolanda Domínguez
Hilarious Foreign Uncle Becomes Viral Star For Expressing Deep Emotion About Death Caused by Family Members VIDEO
April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
Beck’s Paris Metro map is clearly related to his schematic map for the London Underground, all its angles at either 90 or 45 degrees, any unnecessary details erased. The Seine river’s meander through the city is stylised into a symmetrical sweep across the map’s bottom left quarter, its bracket-like shape broken only by the Île de la Cité. The smaller Île Saint-Louis has been erased off the map: unlike its larger neighbour, it doesn’t have a metro stop.
Capturing the Paris Metro in a schematic map proved even more challenging than reducing the London Tube to the now-famous diagram: the Parisian stations were more concentrated in the centre, and its lines were much more interwoven, leading to a higher number of interchanges – and to some very curvaceous lines. Beck picked out a few metrolines to form what seems to be the eternally recurring, basic matrix of a metro map: an axial line (the Ligne 1, running east-west), and a circular line (by juxtaposing Ligne 2 and Ligne 6 on the map to form a rounded rectangle). He added in the other lines, straightening them out as much as possible.
Beck’s initial proposal was rejected by the Paris Metro operator RATP – but the same fate had befallen his first suggestions for the London Underground. Undaunted, the draughtsman returned to his drawing board. But his second, improved, full-colour map, presented in 1951, was also given le cold shoulder. Some speculate that Beck’s oversimplification of Parisian geography was simply too unpalatable for local tastes. It could also be argued that the map looked too ‘British’ for Paris. The map fell into oblivion, and was only published for the first time in Mark Ovenden’s 2008 book on the Paris Metro.
But in the end, Beck won – albeit posthumously. read more
ART: Martin Creed
March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
The greatest scam of all literature (excluding those we don’t yet know about!) happened in Paris between 1974 and 1981. A well-established, widely-read novelist with an unfashionable profile among the literati of Saint-Germain-des-Prés – he was a war hero, a Gaullist, a millionaire, a jet-set celebrity, an ex-diplomat, the ex-husband of one of the world’s most beautiful women, and a journalist to boot – published a novel under a false name. In itself that is quite ordinary: Molière, Voltaire, George Sand and George Eliot didn’t use their real names either. But Romain Gary’s special twist was to make sure that his publisher didn’t know who the author of the new novel was either, and that took a good deal of extra-literary cloak-and-daggery. The manuscript was handed in by an accomplice in an envelope that purported to come from a French exile living in Brazil. Against all statistical odds, the publisher’s reader spotted the text–called at this stage The Loneliness of a Python in Paris, and recommended it strongly to the editorial board. A contract was signed by exchange of letters with a fictional entity called Émile Ajar, and Gary had another unwitting accomplice sign it, so he should not himself be guilty of forgery. Gros-Câlin – the title finally chosen by the publisher – appeared in the autumn of 1974 and was a runaway success. An entirely fictitious author-biography was circulated, and accepted as true. Gary set about writing the sequel, which turned out to be the highest-selling French novel of the twentieth century: La Vie devant soi (“Life Before Us”) by Émile Ajar, to which the Académie Goncourt awarded its 1975 prize, the greatest accolade available for a French novelist, including non-existent ones.
But what had started as a change of writerly identity and an escape from a public persona that Gary found increasingly oppressive turned into a quite different kind of experiment. Because a Goncourt Prize puts the author into the media spotlight, and because neither the publishers nor the press had yet met “Émile Ajar”, Gary decided he would create him – not on paper, but for real. He enrolled his cousin’s son, Paul Pavlowitch, to play the role of Ajar in interviews and in discussions with publishers. Gary would write the script and fund all the travel (meetings were held in Geneva and Copenhagen, as the Ajar cover story made the writer a fugitive from French justice). Pavlowitch just had to follow the instructions. But the identity of the stooge was discovered by reporters, and his relationship to Gary uncovered. What Gary then did took literary subterfuge into a different realm. Instead of giving his game away and exulting in the victory of literature over the literary establishment, he doubled the stakes and lied his head off. read more
FILM: Leigh Singer