Friday, July 29, 2011


Karin Fossum fans - her new book has arrived!

And for anyone who hasn't read Fossum's books, now's a good time to start.

Bad Intentions is another remarkable detective novel by the Norwegian author and her translator, Charlotte Barslund.

Fossum's books are not police procedurals and this time her detectives, Sejer and Skaar, are truly in the background. Her books are about the psychology of perps and victims, often adolescents and young adults, and in this book, the two intertwine.

It's very dark, heartbreaking, and, like all her novels, a window on Norwegian society.

Mini Book Review

Highly recommended:

The Train, by Georges Simenon, published by MelvilleHouse under the Neversink imprint.

The Neversink Library champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored. They are issued in handsome, well-designed editions at reasonable prices in hopes of their passing from one reader to another - and further enriching our culture.

"I was by no means the only reader of books on board the Neversink. Several other sailors were diligent readers, though their studies did not lie in the way of belles-lettres. Their favourite authors were such as you may find at the bookstalls around Fulton Market; they were slightly physiological in their nature. My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much."

-- Herman Melville

That is how I felt when I began reading this book last night and knew I couldn't sleep until I'd finished it. I'd picked up this book purely by chance.

But The Train is not a detective novel, like the Simenon's Maigret books. It's what's known in French as a "roman dur," or a "hard novel," and it's brilliant.

This existential novel has as its antihero a French radio repairman from a small town near the Belgian border who, upon hearing the news of the German invasion of Belgium and Holland, believes he is fated to escape his pleasant bourgeois existence. For a time he does just that.

This novel is about the responsibility of an individual for his actions, in this case as shocking and tragic as the banality of evil.

Please read this book.

I haven't read the book in French, but the translation seems a bit odd at times. Trust me, it doesn't matter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Signing with Olivier Magny

Olivier Magny will be signing copies of Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi on Saturday, July 30th, from 1-3 pm.

In the tradition of the New York Times bestseller Stuff White People Like, Stuff Parisians Like is a tongue-in-cheek homage to Parisians.

To be mistaken for a Parisian, readers must buy the newspaper Le Monde, fold it, and walk. Then sit at a cafe and make phone calls. Be sure to order San Pellegrino, not any other kind of fizzy water. They shouldn't be surprised when a waiter brings out two spoons after they order le moelleux au chocolat -- it is understood that the dessert is too sinfully delicious not to share.

Go to l'ile Saint-Louis -- all Parisians are irredeemably in love with that island. Feel free to boldly cross the street whenever the impulse strikes -- pedestrian crosswalks are too dangerous. If they take a cruise on the Seine, they will want to stand outside, preferably with their collar popped up. If they want to decorate, may we suggest the photographs of Robert Doisneau? To truly be cool in Paris, own an iPhone, wear Converse sneakers, and order sushi. And as they stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens, remember -- they can't go wrong wearing black.

Olivier Magny is a sommelier, an entrepreneur, and a Parisian (not always in that order.) He lives in Paris, France.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mini Book Review

Highly recommended

O.k, I only worked in the music biz for three months, plus two years with a musician boyfriend, but long enough to get the gist.

Stone Arabia, a new novel by Dana Spiotta, really gets it. More than Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad, or Lethem's L.A. hipster novel, You Don't Love Me Yet. And she gets L.A. like Nathaniel West got it.

It's an anti-hero novel about obsession, siblings, music and, at its core, memory. If you know L.A., it rings true. The writing is sensuous, intimate, full of seemingly tangential insights which turn out not to be (like the title).