Wednesday, 25 August 2010

huge vacuums

rainy, cool temps 22

Thank you for all your supportive comments - limping toward 'the end'...hoping to finish this fourth draft by Sunday. Then will write the September newsletter on Monday.

But I must tell you about the launch of En plein coeur...well, not really a launch since it doesn't actually come out until Sept 2nd. but this was an intimate lunch for the books editor at La Presse, and a book reviewer at Voir. Simone, the publicist was there, as were Louise Loiselle, the publisher at Flammarion Quebec, and Michael Saint-Germain - the translator. The good news is that the editor at La Presse really liked the book! The other woman hadn't had the chance to read it all, but was enthusiastic.

Can't tell you what a relief that was. And the food was spectacular. Restaurant called Le Local. Highly recommended - though very hard to find. It's on rue William in Montreal. Susan and I had once again practiced, and realized I'd said, at one point, that I had very big vacuums. What I'd meant to say was I have large aspirations.

Aspirations. Aspirateurs. French - a language of nuance.

Tried not to repeat that over lunch. We chatted away in both French and english, often switiching in mid-sentence. Some days my french is good, many days it's very bad. But not as bad as my Italian.

I remember when Michael and I arrived at the airport in Venice several years ago, while he organized the luggage I went in search of the vaporetto (sp?) - the water taxi's - that would take us to our hotel on the Grand Canal. I found the desk, went over to them, opened my mouth, and only then did I realize I don't speak Italian.

you'd think, maybe, I'd have known that a little earlier - but it actually came as a surprise.

I also remember doing an interview on CBC Radio - live on air - one of my first. I was asking one of the Vietnamese boat people - back in the early 80's - about his experiences.

'Tell me what it was like leaving your home?' I asked.

'87' he said.

I paused.

'What was the journey like?' I asked, slowly, clearly. Loudly.

'87,' he said.

I was faced with a choice. either come up with a series of questions whose answer was '87' (What comes after 86?), or saying 'Thank you, and goodbye.' I said goodbye.

I've often wondered if that man realized he didn't speak English. And why he'd ever agree to do an interivew in a language he obviously did not speak.

Now, as I face a raft of interviews in French, I'm beginning to understand how this sort of thing happens. Wishful thinking and the inestimable power of delusion.

After the lunch Michael and I jumped in the car and headed to Granby to see jacques and Louise. We wanted to be careful not to exhaust Jacques, but we ended up staying an hour and a half. And he and Louise continue to amaze us. He's no longer eating or drinking. slivers of ice is all he can manage. It is in other hands than ours, or his. Louise continues to be gracious and open. But it's exhausting.

Then home about 7pm...took peanut butter sandwiches up to bed. Asleep by 8:30. The thrilling life of a writer!!

Spending today in sweats in front of the fireplace, editing...juggling scenes...writing a few new I read the hardcopy manuscript I realized I needed to switch the location of a scene and add a character - which of course reverberates through the rest of the scenes. So that takes time. Hope to get to page 180 today. 200 tomorrow - heading off at noon to drive to Shelburne Farms Inn, south of Burlington, Vermont. Susan, Michael and I are taking part in the framers dinner tomorrow night. They're holding it in the barn onsite. Then we're all staying the night at the Inn, and going to the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Shelburne Museum on Friday. Home early afternoon.

Really looking forward to that! A late summer treat. Speak soon - and hope all your vacuums are met.


Debra said...

And there is such a difference between speaking and reading. The first time I went to Montreal, I thought about my several years of French decades previously. Got to the city, and had no problem translating road signs, tourist brochures etc. Could read French just fine. Didn't understand a single word any longer. Sigh.

Susan Fish said...

I had a roommate in university who spoke Cantonese and who had a volatile long distance relationship with her boyfriend. I remember listening to her scream at him on the telephone, thinking that I could understand her if I concentrated hard enough. But nope. That was my vacuum. And, it was in '89, not 87.

suzy said...

Have fun at Shelburne....two of my favorite folk art pieces are there (a barber chair for kids that looks like a chicken, and an store display piece for eggs in the shape of a hen!) Shelburne was kind enough to photograph a number of their quilts for my book....what a collection! Enjoy.

Rhys Bowen said...

I love the 87 story.
Did you try "How many people were on the boat?
How many days were you on the boat?
What was the temperature of the water?
How old was your grandmother when she died?
Good luck with the new book! We'll be touring in the same month, but I don't think our paths cross. Pity

Isabelle Lafl├Ęche said...

So happy to hear that Michel Saint-Germain is the translator of your novel, he translated mine and did a fabulous job! Speaking of fabulous, I loved your interview in Vita Magazine! You look wonderful!

Warm Regards,


hilary said...

I had to do an interview for CBC Saint John with a farmer from Northern New Brunswick who raised racing pigs.

Northern NB is VERY French. I asked the associate producer if the man spoke English. He mumbled something and we went to air -- a phone interview.
It went like this:

Me: Are your pigs fast?
He: Hein?
Me: (louder) Are your pigs fast?
He Hein?
Me: (slower)
He: Hein?

I dropped the question and moved on to another. Same thing. So I bailed.

I'm sure your French is much better than his English, but I know you must feel stressed by it -0- and hampered, because you are such a good communicator.

Bonne Chance!


Laurie said...

I so enjoy your books, and want to share them. My eyes are not what they were so I listen to audiobooks and was pleased to read that Mr. Cosham will be doing Bury Your Dead. But as to En plein coeur -- will there be a French audio version? And is there a way to purchase the French translation here in the US?

Thanks for many hours of real pleasure!