Paris in July 2018

This is not an official button for Paris in July; I just happened to like this black and white photo of a woman sitting peacefully by the river. “What is it,” I ask myself, “that she is absorbed in reading on such a quiet day?”

For there is a wealth of literature from which she could choose. As for me, I am currently absorbed in Annie Ernaux’ The Years, which won the 2016 Strega European Prize and the 2018 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. (It is truly spectacular.)

And within my stacks we find treasures to be devoured such as these:

The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux, about a young woman who moved into an apartment in Paris and discovered a storage room of belongings left by the previous owner, all of which Clara documented on Twitter;

nyrb classics such as Like Death by Guy de Maupassant, or Act of Passion by Georges Simenon;

Or, My Heart Hemmed In by Marie Ndaiye.

Each choice holds promise of beautiful writing, stories revealed, and a French atmosphere to absorb. I am eager for July.

And you? What are you reading for Paris in July?

“Let him who loves me follow me.” Femme Fatale, a collection of 4 very short stories by Guy de Maupassant

I am still thinking of the first story in this Penguin Little Black Classic which I read last night. It’s title is Cockcrow, and it is deceptively simple.

Consider this line regarding Madame d’Avancelles’ husband:

It was rumoured that they lived separate lives on account of a physical shortcoming of his which Madame could not overlook. He was a fat little man with short arms, short legs, a short neck, short nose, short everything in fact.

Everything? Oh, really. Is that why she entertains the advances of her admirer Baron Joseph de Croissard to which her husband has turned a blind eye? They cavort and tease each other all autumn long, at receptions and finally at a great hunting party.

After the baron has shown himself to be the man she has requested him to be by killing the wild boar himself, it seems that his desires will be fulfilled that night.

He scratches at her door after the chateau has fallen asleep, and upon gaining admittance is told to wait upon her bed. Which he does, until he succumbs to sleep. And in the morning, he wakens to the sound of the cock’s crow, startling him out of his slumber.

Madame d’Avancelles, who has laid awake beside him all night, tells him to, “Go back to sleep, Monsieur, it’s nothing to do with you.”

Is this mockery? For surely this uneventful night had much to do with him. Or, perhaps she is referring to her own self, seeing that she might not be worth waiting up for.

I do not have a clear answer, but I do have persistent thoughts continuously returning to this simple story which is only 6 pages long, yet full of so much intrigue.

There are three more stories within this slight volume. I eagerly begin the next right now.