Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eggplant and Anna Gavalda

Well, Hockeyman ate the eggplant not only for dinner, but again the next day for lunch. I still have one eggplant left in the crisper, and the next veggie delivery is tomorrow. So more creative Eggplantage to come.


Leaping from food to literature.....

I am currently reading Anna Gavalda's I Wish Someone Were Waiting For Me Somewhere. I found this elegant little collection of short fiction in a used bookshop. I read her novella, Somebody I Loved, last summer. An quick internet search turned up Hunting and Gathering, a French bestseller just translated into English. In an effort to avoid the Amazonian monolith, I will stop by my favorite bookstore, Oakland's Pendragon Books, and ask if they can order it for me.

Yep, I'm one of those annoying independent bookstore shoppers. The closure of Cody's on Telegraph is yet another indicator of how fucked up things are these days. In case you needed further proof.

Back to French literature.

My French is limited to ballet and culinary terms, a deficit I am increasingly finding a hindrance. I am also a fan of Nancy Huston's writing, but only a few of her books are available in English. Annie Ernaux is another writer who can be tricky to locate; I found Cleaned Out the same day I nabbed the Gavalda.

All three writers share an economy of prose, a focus on interpersonal relationships, and a lack of pretension. In fact, all seem to enjoy skewering the status-minded. Their work does not rely on verbal trickery, footnoting, or characters slogging through some ruined metaphysical landscape. Instead, the ringing of a cell telephone is sufficient to ruin a seduction. Look at this, from Gavalda's "Courting Rituals of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres:"

"Horrors. His cell phone just rang...all eyes in the restaurant fix on him as he deftly switches it off....those damn things. There always has to be one, no matter where, no matter when.

The boor."

The meal completed, the aroused couple is about to depart when:

"He hands me my black coat and then...
I admire the work of the artist, hats off, it's very discreet...in placing the coat on my bare shoulders...he finds the half second necessary and the perfect tilt toward the inside pocket of his jacket to glance at the message screen on his cell phone."

Perfect.

I am also reading Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France. Suffice to say I want to make everything in it, but the idea of cooking with or eating duck fat in this weather is dizzying. I hate the heat.

Anna Gavalda: I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere
Riverhead Books, NY: 2003. Quotes from pages 10,11, 12.

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