Monday, March 17, 2014

Our first 2014 night - 2/24/14

This first French night of the year was dedicated to sons, sons and their relationships with their fathers or their mothers.
It was an evening of depth and wit, the reading resonated in every one's mind as we all are sons or daughters and some of us know now the parental side of (the wild side?)  having sons or daughters.

As usual the evening began by chatting and drinking a glass or two of wine.

Happy new people and happy faithful friends


Then Emmanuelle Ertel launched the readings by presenting the first excerpt,  a short story, Tout pour lui plaire/Everything To Please Him, written by Carole Fives and translated by Brett Ray. It is part of a bigger collection named When Happiness Finds Us, published in France in 2013.

The son in this short story ceaselessly tried to get his father's approval, by becoming a painter, then a writer, then a comedian making fun of his own father. He finally understands that there is no way to please him, no way to make his father satisfied. It's hopeless.

Emmenuelle read the short story in French and Brett Ray read his own translation, alternating the language as the son changed his professions.

Everyone is focused,  silently listening to the echoes this story sounded in everyone's mind !

Then Isabelle Milkoff took over and presented the next excerpt from Veronique Olmi's latest novel - La nuit en verité/The Truth About The Night.

The three first chapters were read : in French by Isabelle and in English by John Galbraith Simmons.

The young Enzo lives with his mother Lioubia in a big apartment in the center of Paris, a neighborhood in the middle of the city that is popular with the tourists. He goes to school while Lioubia cleans the apartment and has tea with her friends. But Enzo is a fat boy, clumsy and frequently bullied by his class mates and even once by the gym teacher when he forced him to try to climb at the top of a rope, even though it was impossible for him. On that same Friday evening he came back home in the rain and as he got into the house, he heard Lioubia and her friends. He knew immediately he would not be able to get to the Nutella and have the snack he so desperately wanted.

Now it's time for the last excerpts.
The last but not the least.
They were taken from The Unbreakable Boy/Le Garçon incassable by Florence Seyvos.
Philippe Aufort read the French part of the chapters we chose, Tom Radigan read the English that he had helped to translate. The first draft of the translation by Isabelle Milkoff and Catherine Dop-Miller found the English voice to this French story.

The book tells two stories of about a son and his father - 
Buster Keaton's story as well as the story of Henri, the narrator's step-brother. Henri is handicapped since birth but his father pushed him to stand, walk and live like any other kid.
But Henri was not like any other kid.

"Henri’s father says : «Children, you have to break them. He truly thinks that you cannot raise children without breaking their spirit, that there is no other way.  Not just make them bend, but break them." 

"His father forced him to kneel outside on the cement, telling him he would stay there until he decided to greet Yacouba politely. Henri stayed there an hour, yelling, crying with rage and still refusing to yield. "

"F...... Henri, a little reed that bends but doesn’t break."

Again, everyone is listening and feeling the tension created by the words. 

Some follow along by reading the texts. 

That's all, folks
We wished you were here to share these very deep and breathtaking moments.
See you next time
It will be in April, the 14th,
when spring is back
At last !
We will be glad to see you all again
Have a nice end of winter 
and save our next French night date !

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