Monsieur Lazhar

31 January 2012

What I loved about Monsieur Lazhar is its delicacy. So much of what is most powerful here is touched on glancingly. There is genius at work in the casting and direction of the children, among whom Sophie Nélisse as Alice and Émilien Néron as Simon are standouts, and of Monsieur Lazhar himself, played by Algerian actor, comedian and author Fellag.

Fellag, as Monsieur Lazhar

From Guy Tiphane: Letter from… Antigua, Guatemala

25 January 2012

All this would be simpler had I had an electronic book reader, I thought on my way home. Sooner or later, it was now clear to me, I would have to surrender to the commanders of progress who want to sell us devices and an endless supply of books in electronic format.

Art’s Art: Arthur Holden’s “serious farce” Ars poetica

20 January 2012


This is a fun play, and a satisfying play, ably performed and directed at a clip by Guy Sprung in this excellent Infinithéâtre production. Arthur Holden is a playwright to watch.

Noel Burton, Danielle Desormeaux and Elana Dunkelman in Ars poetica
Noel Burton (George), Danielle Desormeaux (Diane), and Elana Dunkelman (Naomi) in Arthur Holden's Ars poetica. Photo: Brian Morel.
Who's looking it up?

19 January 2012

Why are so many people looking kawaii up in the dictionary? And are they the same people who are looking up get?

Annie Ernaux: from L’Autre Fille (The Other Daughter)

14 December 2011

When French author Annie Ernaux was ten years old, she overheard her mother conversing with a customer outside the family-run small grocery. The mother confided that there was a daughter before Annie, a six-year old girl who contracted diphtheria and who “died like a little saint.” L’Autre fille (The Other Daughter) is Annie Ernaux’s letter to the departed.


      Annie Ernaux  [Photo: Catherine Hélie, Gallimard]

From Guy Tiphane: Letter from San Francisco

8 December 2011

Can machines select the next book for you to read? In this view of the future, a book's DNA can be compared to your “reader DNA,” and the bookseller – no longer a human but a machine automatically channeling books to you – is guaranteed growing sales forever.

To Isaac Babel from his daughter

30 November 2011

"Well, here you are at last. We've been puzzled about you for so long; although you left behind much love and devotion, you bequeathed us very few facts." -- Nathalie Babel, 1964

From Sophie Legrand: Q & A with Katherine Govier

15 November 2011

I think landscape forms character. The people I write about are formed by a particular landscape. Maybe it’s harsh, maybe it’s dangerous, it affects what they are and who they are. I like to go and place myself in those landscapes.

Katherine Govier in Matsumoto, Japan

From Judith Fitzgerald: Winning ReLits & Righteous Fitz Bitz

11 November 2011

L-R:  Craig Francis Power, Tony Burgess, Dani Couture, and ReLit Founder Kenneth J. Harvery.

ReLit winners show off their rings: (L-R) Craig Francis Power, Tony Burgess, Dani Couture, and ReLit founder Kenneth J. Harvey. (Photograph of ReLit Award recipients © 2011 John W. MacDonald. Used by written permission. All rights reserved. Duplication, reproduction, storage, or transmission of this work in whole or in part in any medium without the express written permission of its copyright holder is strictly forbidden. Just so you know, y'know?)

From Ruth Gruenthal: Emma Bovary, Bourgeois Heroine

9 November 2011

It is one of my principles that one must not write about oneself. The artist should be like God in creation, invisible and all-powerful; so that one can feel him everywhere, but see him not at all.  -- Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert


Of Shakespeare, Anonymous, and Muriel Spark

4 November 2011

"Shakespeare is – let us put it this way – the least English of English writers. The typical quality of the English is understatement, saying a little less than what you see. In contrast, Shakespeare tended toward the hyperbolic metaphor, and it would come to us as no surprise to learn that Shakespeare had been Italian, or Jewish, for instance." -- Jorge Luis Borges 1979

The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Poet and psychiatrist Joël des Rosiers wins Quebec’s national literary prize

1 November 2011

In addition to being a gifted poet and a practicing psychiatrist, Des Rosiers is a courageous and open-minded gentleman for whom I have great respect. This, as we all know, has nothing much to do with literary merit, most of the time. I mention it because it gives me even more reason to rejoice that Quebec has chosen to celebrate Joël des Rosiers and his work with its highest literary honour.

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