Combining Business with Literary Delights

Who said you cannot combine your work with your secret passion? During my recent business trip, I’ve taken advantage of my location to indulge in some literary pleasures.

BookBusinessTripBook Buying

In Quebec, I discovered local authors and McGill University alumni:
1) Heather O’Neill with her story of twelve-year-old Baby living a precarious existence with her junkie father fleeing from one short-term furnished let to the next, Lullabies for Little Criminals.
2) Alain Farah’s Ravenscrag (translated from French), described as an original blend of retro science fiction and autobiography about resilience, literature as remedy and survival through storytelling.

In London, I could not resist the lure of Waterstone’s Piccadilly (I had no time to go further afield, but spent a happy hour or so in there):
1) Penelope Fitzgerald’s short story collection The Means of Escape – I’ve never read any of her short stories
2) Pascal Garnier: Moon in a Dead Eye because I have difficulty finding his books in France, and it has been mentioned as a favourite among his works by so many fellow bloggers
3) Clarice Lispector: Near to the Wild Heart – one of my favourite authors, or at least she used to be when I last read her twenty years ago – high time to reread!
4) Javier Marias: A Heart So White – high time I explored this author – plus he was translated by Margaret Jull Costa, whom I got to see in my second extravagance on this trip. See below.

Literary Conference

The London Lit Weekend, a little-known and not very widely publicised event (at least not online), took place on the 3rd and 4th of October at King’s Place in London. I attended a fascinating discussion on literary translation with Margaret Jull Costa (prize-winning translator from Portuguese and Spanish) and Ann Goldstein (translator from Italian, including the recent Elena Ferrante tetralogy), chaired by Boris Dralyuk, himself a translator from Russian. I’ll write a separate post about this event, as it was full of quotable insights. But I was too shy to take any pictures.


Well, what is London without a visit to the theatre? I couldn’t resist the adaptation of Mark Haddon’s  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which my older son and I both read and enjoyed recently. And yes, he is very envious that I get to see it and he doesn’t!

20 thoughts on “Combining Business with Literary Delights”

  1. So glad you able to have a few wonderful literary as well as work-related things to do, Marina Sofia. It all sounds terrific. There’s nothing like the local book scene when you’re ‘on the road…’ Wish I’d seen The Curious incident…, myself 🙂

  2. So glad you’ve found some gems on your travels. My next Garnier is The Front Seat Passenger but Moon in a Dead Eye is next in line. Your son must be spitting to know that his mother is going to see The Curious Incident… 😉

  3. Sounds like you managed to get some me time into your trip! And some nice book finds!

  4. Nice to see the Canadian additions. I have both and shamefully have not read Heather O’Neill’s book yet though I am quite familiar with it and have owned it for years. Ravenscrag I stumbled across and it really does sound intriguing. Must get to that one soon.

  5. Sounds like you had a great trip! I’ll be very interested to hear more about the literary translation event. I would love to have gone along but it clashed with other activities in London on Sunday afternoon.

    Hope you enjoy those books, too – I’m delighted to see A Heart So White in your stash!

  6. The first thing I always do if life takes me to unexpected locations is seek out any bookshop there may be in the area. Somehow other people’s bookshops always have far more interesting books in them than one’s own. One of my closest friends, however, always heads for the nearest library. An ex-librarian herself she can’t resist checking out how other people are organising their books and what events they are organising.

  7. The combination of work with literary doings is always magnificent 🙂 Your new books sound great, and the Curious Incident… must have been wonderful to see on stage! The Literary Conference you attended also sounds very interesting – I recently attended a translation conference, too, what a coincidence 😉

  8. I have this Heather O’Neill book but I have not read it yet. I have read The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. The writing style is quite similar and distinctive, it has a special rhythm. My TBR pile also has the Javier Marías (in Spanish), but of course that pile is a disgrace and who knows when I will get through it.

    1. That book does sound very similar thematically and stylistically. I wonder if the author has only one kind of story inside her – or has to write out the demons…
      Ah, yes, that terrible, terrible TBR pile! I’ve got to at least tidy it up soon.

      1. I don’t mind dark and I love black humour. I just find books about children difficult since having my son as books about children are rarely cheerful these days and I find most of them a bit disturbing. Perhaps I should buck the trend and write one!

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