Thursday, 11 March 2010

These are a few of my favourite things




I just wanted to share some discoveries; prompted by a beautifully wrapped parcel that arrived in the post this morning, containing Paul Morand's 'Lewis and Irene', which I'd ordered a few days ago from an antiquarian book sellers in Gloucester City, New Jersey (I love the way the internet brings lost books to light for those who seek them). It's a 1925 first edition, hand-cut pages, and dispatched in pristine white tissue paper, for a very reasonable price ($21) from betweenthecovers.com.
I also want to recommend the Pushkin Press as a publisher of many forgotten treasures, including several of Paul Morand's books, in excellent translations by Euan Cameron. Morand was a friend of Chanel's, a writer and diplomat; a man with a terribly flawed past, who found a way of telling his story (and many others) through the prism of 'Venices'. He has been described, memorably, in the New York Times as 'one of the great nomads of 20th-century French literature, racing through the apocalypse with the haste and glamor of an Orient Express.' Definitely worth reading for anyone intrigued by the shadows of Venice...

26 comments:

kairu said...

Intriguing. I will have to look for those books. I've never been to Venice, and know it only through art and literature.

Have you read Joseph Brodsky's "Watermark"? It is a collection of memories of Venice, moments and reflections gathered across the years. Brodsky was Russian, living in America as an exile, but he loved Venice so much that after his death, I believe, his ashes were scattered there.

By the way, my copy of "Wigs on the Green" arrived and I've been diving eagerly into it, a bit at a time. Funny and devastating at the same time.

Justine Picardie said...

Thanks for the Brodsky recommendation -- will order it now. All this is making me long to go to Venice!

enid said...

A parcel with books is such a joy. I love the Pushkin publications. They are so lovely to hold and have a tactile quality which pleases me. A gem is Journey to Moonlight by Anatole Szerb. Please read it.I will lokk for Paul Morand

kairu said...

Books in the mail all always exciting, but books from England (for me) are even more exciting, especially if they are from Persephone Books, or Penguin titles. I am going on holiday to Morocco next month (with perhaps 2 days in Paris), so I've put a hold on buying any more frivolous things (although books are necessary things and not frivolous at all) until I return. Then I will tear into the Pushkin catalogue with a vengeance.

Justine Picardie said...

Morocco -- how fabulous! And I do hope you get to Paris.
Enid -- will add Journey to Moonlight to my reading list. Am going to look it up on the Pushkin catalogue now...

Justine Picardie said...

Another fan of Journey by Moonlight...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/jul/28/fiction.reviews1

jaywalker said...

Venice is one of those places that don't disappoint and are always magical. Have been twice although only for a few days each time but one of the most memorable travel experiences of my life is the meal we had on one of the islands in the lagoon, sitting outside in the Italian sunshine eating fresh sardines and breadsticks.
Thanks for the betweenthecovers site, I've already passed it on to friends.
BTW Donna Leon's detective series may not be great literature or great detective mysteries but they do evoke Venice very well.

kairu said...

I love the Donna Leon mysteries! Well, I don't love them in the sense that they always leave me depressed, but I love them for the picture of Venice that they paint for me, of the conversations Guido Brunetti has with his coworkers and his family. Of the food and the wine and the paths he traces across Venice. There is a kind of intimacy with the city that I find intriguing.

Sarah Standalone said...

I love buying old books, the workmanship, the tooled leather, the thickness of the paper, the smell......

Justine Picardie said...

Do the Donna Leon books leave you depressed, or do you not love them because they don't leave you feeling depressed? Sorry, my sentence has too many double negatives... but I need to know more about the after-effect of Donna Leon!
And Sarah is right about the feel of old books; they seem so evocative of who has held them, and when they were first made; but what if they were owned by an unpleasant person? Would that come with them into our hands?

kairu said...

I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, or the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver mysteries where a pair of young lovers was always united (or reunited) by the end. The mystery was always tied up satisfactorily by the last page. There were always cups of tea and warm fires.

For some reason, modern mysteries lack that kind of coziness. The themes and motives are darker - revenge, incest, rape - and the deaths more brutal. There always seems to be more collateral damage. The justice is more ambiguous, the endings less clear-cut and somehow unsatisfying. I have the same problem reading Donna Leon as I do, say, P. D. James - a beautifully written description of a world far from mine, but a mystery that leaves me shaking.

jaywalker said...

I know what you mean, kairu, about the blackness of modern detective fiction. I still tend to the more "dignified" murders and avoid the graphic forensic horror genre. I like the interwoven social comments of writers such as P D James, Barbara Vine, Elizabeth George. Leon emphasises the age old corruption in the Venetian police force which is also a bit depressing. However, as you say, the depiction of family life, the conversations, the meals, the walks through the streets, bring the city to life for me and I certainly felt I understood it just that bit more when I visited it.

enid said...

I love detective novels without serail killers . You can travel the world. Leon in Venice. Inspect Motalabano of Sicily, Rebus in Scotland, Zondi and Kramer in South Africa. Ikumen of Turkey by Nadel. Wallender of Sweden by Mankell, Palestine by Mattthew Rees and Idridasohn writing about Iceland. I love reading them.

jaywalker said...

Yes, me too, enid. And don't forget McCall Smith's Botswana, and for me, a Yorkshire lass in Australia, Peter Robinson's series set in the Dales. I haven't read Idridasohn so will look for them. Thanks.

kairu said...

Jaywalker, I love Alexander McCall Smith. I don't know whether I love his Botswana more or his Edinburgh more - they are so different, but in both cases his writing is very gentle and deeply loving of its place.

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Kayla Oh said...

Hi,
my name is Kayla Oh, I'm a high school student and i was hoping I could interview you because you wrote a book about Coco Chanel (if this is the right Justine Picardie).
I am doing a research report on her and I really only need 10-15 questions answered. I know that you are probably way too busy to answer these, but i was hoping that maybe you could take 5 minutes to answer the questions.

if you have time to answer these, I would really appreciate it!

What is your job title?
What is your name?
How did you research and learn about Coco Chanel?
Would you agree that Coco Chanel changed the fashion industry?
In what ways did she change it?
Is her style still popular today?
What makes her style so timeless?
Where did she find inspiration for her simple and elegant designs?
Why do you think her designs were so popular?
Would you consider her styles innovative?

if you could email your answers to kayla_oh1@yahoo.com

Thank you so much!
p.s. i know this had nothing to do with your post, but i didn't know how else to contact you sorry!

jaywalker said...

At a car boot sale this weekend I picked up a copy of Angela Carter's essays "Expletives Deleted" for 20c and have been unable to put it down. Have read the pieces on Jane Eyre and on David Kunzle's book "Fashion and Fetishes" (on tight lacing and corsets) and about to embark on Elizabeth David and Christina Stead.

Glenland Ladybird said...

Delighted to have found this blog and so, so sad that the Mitford food piece escaped. Please rewrite it.I spied your link to Barrie's website; great thing are to happen in Kirriemuir, (my local Glen town) this year to celebrate @barrie_2010 on Twitter for more information (not me but I am doing a kids' food session for them)

kairu said...

Jaywalker, I [expletive deleted] LOVED Angela Carter's Expletives Deleted. I could not put it down, nor could I stop laughing.

jaywalker said...

Yes, and the responses to her reviews of David's Bread and Baking book were hilarious. Also loved the piece on food in Vogue through the decades. I wonder if Justine has read that one?

Justine Picardie said...

I LOVE Angela Carter's essays. Her pieces in New Society were one of the inspirations that made me want to be a writer; her ability to see that what feminism often dismissed as irrelevant froth (fashion, lipstick et al) might reveal intriguing things about ourselves and others. How wonderful to find an original collection of her essays; I have the Virago edition, which doesn't contain all of them, annoyingly. Even more annoyingly, I can't find my copy, despite having searched for it for the last half an hour, prompted by Jaywalker's comments.

treeofforgivness said...

Dear Justine, I have been reading your blog for many months with sheer delight. I have never left a comment before but felt I had to after reading your article in yesterdays Times. It was so moving, a fabulous piece of writing..and a lovely photo of you too! First day of spring today...Yippee. P.S.I loved Daphne

kairu said...

Justine, thanks to treeofforgiveness I went and looked up your article from yesterday's Times. It was wonderful, as always, and I love the photo of you. How chic and Chanel-ish you look in your stripey jersey and gold necklace.

jaywalker said...

Justine - What a lot of vitriolic comments in response to your article in the Times. I can never understand those who don't understand that there is no one answer or right or wrong way of thinking about human emotions and personal situations. Each one is unique just as each human is. But I do agree that we should probably try to get over the idea that marriage must be for life or you have failed. Historically that just doesn't add up. We now live such long lives, women don't die young in childbirth etc and to expect all couples to live happily together for 50 or 60 years is a bit optomistic. If they do that's great but it shouldn't be shameful if they don't. People can marry too young (me), too inexperienced, too undeveloped and often for the wrong reasons. Those people shouldn't be condemned to unhappiness or even to stoic acceptance as so many of our parents and grandparents were. Might sound cruel for the other one involved but eventually those negative emotions are going to be communicated in boredom, bitterness or infidelity. Children are amazingly resilient and with the right balance of joint upbringing(and I know that is difficult) they can adapt to divorce without too much damage.

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