Monday, October 13, 2014

Cornelia Street Cafe 9/25

We had such a great evening on our latest French night 
at the Cornelia Street Cafe. 
 A freshly repainted bar welcomed us with great colors 
and we were thrilled
 to see 

 our faithful crowd
coming back.
as well as we enjoyed welcoming new comers

 The excerpts were funny and the readers very good, indeed.

We read  three excerpts of supertitled books

 beginning with

 How to find love when you're a fifty year old parisian woman 
and other crucial issues
by Pascal Morin. 
 The French part was read by Isabelle Milkoff
while Victoria Sheehan read her own translation. 

They mixed the two stories of Natasha Jakowska who just lost her mother 
and of Catherine Tournant, Natasha's teacher who wants to help. 
but Natasha doesn't need any help !
Then Tom Radigan
and Maxime Touillet 

shared the floor to read an excerpt of 

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

by Romain Puertolas, the "guy who writes on his shirts"
as he calls himself 
He is a young writer in his late thirties 
who likes silly titles 

and goes on with a new very cool tone on his own web site.
Tom took his part very seriously and went to Ikea to rehearse
and get the feeling of a fakir
coming for the first time in such a gigantic big store.

Last but not least, 
Emmanuelle Ertel and some of her  students  
from her translation workshop at NYU
Grace Mc Quillan, Janet Lee, Amanda Islambouli
Sisi Betances
Dominique Bouavichith
Mark Iosifescu
and Carrina Lacorata
read texts from a collection of short short stories 
written by David Thomas

 Each student read his/her own translation 
The title of this collection 
is in French 
a play on words 

On ne va pas se raconter d'histoires means two things - 
The first one is that we shouldn't lie to ourselves,  
the second one is that you can't tell any interesting story.
That's why we picked the one Tom Radigan suggested :
 There's no story here.
The translations were extremely good 
and gave a good sense of the irony of David Thomas's writing.
(see the translations below)


and laughters
warmed us up
and we're looking forward to going back to the Cornelia

Hope you enjoyed the pictures.
At our next evening our theme will be Contemporary French Gay and Lesbian literature
 and our merry gathering will take place just
before the Christmas break
on the 18th of December.
Save the date and join us again.

Short short stories from David Thomas's collection - There's no story here

Water Gun

Today I spent my afternoon seated on the living room sofa, with a water gun in my hand. Every five, ten minutes, I sprayed the cat with a little squirt, immediately hiding the toy under a dishrag. Each time, the tomcat suddenly rose to his paws to wonder what was happening to him and where it came from. He looked around him, turned around, then curled up in the armchair to resume his nap. And barn, another squirt. And oh, on his feet again, with an incredulous look and his tail waving nervously in frustration, then curled up again on the cushion. I don't know how long this little game lasted, but even though he changed places two or three times, that fool never understood what was happening. I had a lot of fun. Five minutes before the children came back from school, I turned on my computer and sat at my desk. My oIdest popped in to ask if I'd had a good day.
"I worked, buddy, I worked..."
I may not be a good writer, but I try to be a good father.
Another Man
I don't regret meeting you. I don't regret the kids, giving up so many things to raise them, leaving my hometown that I loved so much so you could have the job that you liked so much. I don't regret those holidays at your parents' in Brittany, even though as you well know I hate Brittany. I don't regret hosting dinners al! those years for your friends, who I frankly find a bit dense--not mean, really, but not very sharp either. I don't regret you cheating on me for six months with that idiot -- I don't even blame you--she was very pretty, and I was much less so than when we first met. 1 don't regret you never sharing my interests, never putting up with my sister or taking me away for my birthdays to cities and countries that you wanted to see.
I don't regret anything, but to think that I spent fifteen years with you, and that all it took was meeting another man to finally understand you're worthless.

Four years together

This morning on the street I bumped into the first woman I lived with. We spent four years together, and at the time we sincerely thought that the two of us would build a life and have children. We loved each other tremendously. This was thirty-five years ago. We stopped for a moment, on the sidewalk, to catch up. She'd gotten older, so had I. She told me that I hadn't changed, so did I. She lived with someone, so did I. She was divorced, so was I. She had kids, so did I. She had a job that no longer thrilled her, so did I. And so we exchanged our banalities, sticking only to the facts, the things that punctuate a life but say nothing about that life. We, who'd been so close, no longer had anything to say to one another. To each other, we were now nothing more than memories.

  I know, it's a strange word because you use it just as much when the door is held open for you as you do in response to those moments that shape you. It's usually not worth much in comparison to what you're given, but I still feel like saying it to you. I wanted to thank you for loving me. I wanted to thank you for never saying anything when I was horrible. I wanted to thank you for giving me two beautiful children. I wanted to thank you for making my life something dull but comfortable. I wanted to thank you for putting up with my nonsense, even though I put up with yours too. I wanted to thank you for loving the sad and scared little girl that I was, with all her mud and ashes. I wanted to thank you for giving me orgasms and letting me be. I know, I didn't always say it, but tonight, that's what I want to say to you. I also wanted to thank you for dying before me.
When My Father Read Me Rabelais!

  When I was very little, I must have been four, my father would read to my brothers and me before tucking us in. But rather than reading us children's stories, my father read us Rabelais. He'd take a huge illustrated book from off the shelves, which I reckoned to be as heavy as me, and we would snuggle up against him. I listened to him with wide eyes, two fingers in my mouth and another up my nose -- should I find something interesting there -- my ear pressed to his chest, and I never got tired of hearing his warm voice guiding us through the lives of those giants, whose intestinal problems delighted me. I vividly remember laughing myself silly when my father imitated Gargantua's farts by buzzing his lips. I vividly remember that, when I was there, tucked under his arm, life was wonderful.

I started working at fourteen. I come from a poor family, but I never went hungry. The poor eat plenty. Crap, mostly, but plenty of it. Today I'm a rich man. So, if there's one thing I won't compromise on, it's quality. I want the best of everything. My black tea comes from London, and my green tea from Beijing. I have my shirts custom-made in Hong Kong, my shoes in Milan, my suits in Paris. I bring back my winter boots or parkas from Toronto, my summer shirts from Hawaii. My cigars come from Cuba, my beluga caviar from Moscow, my rugs from Iran, my lamps from Copenhagen, my silk from Hangzhou, my cashmere from Mongolia, my herbes de Provence from Saint-Tropez, my ham from Guijuelo in the Salamanca region and my whisky from the Ardbeg Distillery in Scotland. This morning, in my car, I realized that everything I have in life comes from far away, except my wife. She's from Courbevoie, like me.
I Will Miss Me

In the subway car that's bringing me home I think of only one thing, a glass of wine. I want to stretch out and drink a glass of wine while smoking a cigarette. I need my brain to empty itself like a bathtub. Maybe she'll be there. Maybe not. Ever since we made this decision I never know when she'll come by to get her things. Each time I come home I expect to find the shelves and the drawers empty.
With every other step, one of my shoes makes a squeaking sound that bothers me. I have to buy new ones. I decide to wait for her to leave, for good, before I buy some boots I noticed at a store in the neighborhood.
On the stairs I run into our neighbor. He's the only one, in the whole building, who reaches out his hand to me to say hello. We chat about the weather and about how lucky we are to have such a great super.
I'm barely through the front door when her cat, who I've come to consider ours, rubs against my legs and meows to welcome me. I take him in my arms and stroke his chin. He purrs, his eyes closed. Soon we will no longer have this bond and he'll forget who I am.
I will miss him, too. I will miss everything. This life, with the three of us, that was just starting to find its rhythm, and that brush with happiness I felt all this time. And her. And me with her.
I will miss me without her.

Just because you live alone, doesn't mean you have to let it get you down. For a long time, I haven't had any family, and, actually, to be honest, I don't have any friends either. As for women, it's been seventeen years since I had one in my life. Thus, I live alone, and apart from work, I never see anyone. So, I celebrate my birthday all alone. I've had my little ritual for years. A few days before, I buy myself a present that I have carefully wrap in nice paper. And also, a bottle of whiskey. I come home and choose a good hiding place for the present. The house is big, and I have many places to choose from. I always make sure the gift isn't too easy to find, even if the hiding spots are a bit cruel, but that's the game. Then, on the night of my birthday I fix myself a nice little feast, and after dinner, slowly, taking all the time needed, I knock back the bottle of whisky. And, once I no longer know my own name, or if it's night or day, I look for my present. This year, I found it. It was a butterfly pinned down in a box. I don't know what came over me, giving myself such a thing.

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