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Queneau, Raymond

The Trojan Horse

Sometimes I think you haven’t lived until you’ve been given the shoulder by a drunken horse in a bar. Other times I think the very stuff of life happens from being the drunken horse in a bar. But usually, it has to do with neither of these things, and I’m fairly certain that none of it would be worth the slightest damn if there was no Queneau to neigh by.

For those interested, I dug up a little history about the story and posted it over here.

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Categories
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam

The Doctor’s Heroism

Well, I’ve been reading some unavoidable news about Death Panels and baby killing nazi zombies terrorizing in the Norwegian mountains and all sorts of incessant catfighty nastiness which I suppose our world can take, given that it’s really all pretty hopeless, when confronted by the threat of health care. Or zombies.

And I didn’t really think about how topical tonight’s story was until I listened to the reading of it. But Villiers de l’Isle-Adam may have been a little cigar-tunneling heavyhanded in his symbolism in this story (just a smidge), but I’m thinking he might have been on to something.

And if you haven’t read L’Ève Futur, there’s no time like now. You can read it while waiting in line to be judged by the Panel.

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Categories
France, Anatole

Madame de Luzy

Tonight’s story came from one of several boxes of books that were recently given to me by a stranger, someone apparently vying for the title of Miette’s Best Friend.

And as I mention when reading tonight’s story, this alone makes today one of the best days anybody’s had, in a good long while (if not EVER). There are some real treasures here, among them, a wilderness guide from 1979 written not by an enthusiastic back-to-the-land trailblazer, but by a wondrously grizzled mind capable of gems like this:

At this point, I’d like to throw in a few words about the bright blue, red, dazzling yellow, and orange fabrics used in outdoor clothing, pack bags, and tents. Millions of hikers and backpackers wearing these gaudy colors are turning the wilderness into one vast Coney Island. You look out across a magnificent forested valley. Not a sign of humans anywhere. No? Look again. Over on the far side is a trail, and suddenly you see it — a moving bright red spot, followed by another, and then another, four altogether. It looks like a line of red ants marching along single file. Your vision of the vast wilderness is ruined. Had these hikers been wearing forest green, brown, or russet clothes and packs, they would never have been seen at that distance. When you enter an established campsite, what do you find? Maybe dozens of tents so brightly colored that they practically knock your eye out. This colorful practice is a relatively new phenomenon. The old idea was to wear colors and live in tents that blended and harmonized with the greenwood. I don’t understand these brightly colored “environmentalists.” They must be colorblind!

Of course, if he’d written this today, he’d be condemned for his impolitic prejudice against the colorblind. Know that I’m reprinting this passage for stylistic and training purposes ONLY, and by no means think that the colorblind population is incapable of selecting forest-appropriate outdoor clothing.

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Categories
Jarry, Alfred

The Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race

I hope those of you celebrating All Things Autumnal are settling into it well, the roast fowl and the hot cacao and woodfire smoke for dessert, and, well, you know the picture I’m aiming for here. It does wonders to the general countenance, I think: case in point, we returned home not long ago to find the floor coated with the dust of construction detritus, and in the mood I was in, considered it almost as good as snow, a synaesthetic layering of scenariae which led this little brain of mine in a fourth-gear race to the nearest Jarry to share with you.

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Renard, Jules

The Dark Lantern

As you know, there’s not much room on these pages for political soapboxing, both because there are already plenty of internet playgrounds for that sort of thing, and because I’d rather freestyle on such endlessly gripping topics as the weather or this podcast’s sound quality. However. I have an opinion that must be voiced. You know the centenarian who sits in the corner of your office, who doesn’t do much, but who’s generally innocuous, whose very presence is as critical to your environment as the cracks on the walls or the location of your printers? Or the old curmudgeon at your local bar, who’s never bothered to buy you a drink and wouldn’t dare shove over a stool to free up a space for you and your friends, but without whom you’d probably never go to that bar at all?

I’m sure by now you know what I’m talking about. And I’ll say this: I’m not going anywhere near that solar system again until you bring Pluto back. I mean it.

Until then, here is today’s story if you want to read it in French.

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Sarraute, Nathalie

XXII

For your bonus bedtime track this week, I’ve decided to double up on (I suppose?) relative abstrusity, author-wise. But this time, I’m in the fortunate position of already knowing and loving and potentially endlessly blathering about today’s subject, to prevent us all from hitting the high mile dudgeons over these recently mentioned desultory obsessions. And so, Nathalie Sarraute, and yes, she was stunning!

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Categories
Calderon, Ventura Garcia

The Lottery Ticket

Is there anybody out there who has a cure for acute compulsion? The thought had entered my mind that I had very little knowledge of tonight’s author, and that, further, I was quite curious to know what he looked like. And, given the tendency toward googlification of the nubs of my fingers, this curiosity was one that I felt compelled to satisfy.

But it wasn’t easy! There’s surprisingly little to be found, even less in English, which meant there was even more legwork involved on this end to satisfy my personalitic, and now, snapping out of the fury, I regretfully inform you that a few minutes has become two hours. Admittedly, I do know marginally more than I did (whew), and behold!

So, self-satisfaction aside, who can tell me how to quell the urge to googliate everything that dares to cross the mind? Surely I’m not alone with this problem. Is this what they call a Cry For Help?

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Mérimée, Prosper

The Pearl of Toledo

True to form here’s a nice short one to balance out the more time-demanding Gogol from last time. And let me add that just because it’s short doesn’t mean it’s not gruesome, contentious, vitriolic, or even a little caustic, because when lagged by the potentate of a jet, that’s all you want waiting for you at home: a short and snarling gallic fable- how’s that for a cold water splash to the face? Here you go!

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Categories
Maupassant, Guy de

Dreams

Hypnalgiaphobia, the nightly quest for a real OOBE, learning to read more slowly and maybe with no accent, elas, these are the things that make us turn in the wee hours and if ether were the answer I’d be first in line. But maybe a new bed is a fine substitute? Maybe just a bedtime story? Tomorrow holds all the answers, as it always does. For now, wrap up warm and dampen the draft with a towel. Sleep tight.

Tonight: Guy de Maupassant’s “Dreams;” it’s in plenty of books and plenty of Web sites, should you want to follow along you could maybe download it from somewhere as a text file to your iPOD.

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