… Or should that be ‘the truly wise’? Because there is no better place for reading, especially when you are poorly, as I am at the moment. (Perfect timing for the long Ascension weekend in glorious sunshine – boo!) Besides, I can’t help but remember that doggerel rhyme by Dorothy Parker:
Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend—
Bed awaits me at the end.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall—
I’m a fool to rise at all!
I promised to share a love story with you from the Salon du Livre. Here is the story of how I fell in love with a cat, lost a substantial amount of money but gained much happiness.
In addition to the bold, colourful artworks decorating the various stands at the Geneva Book Fair, there was one stand which drew my attention. Fortunately (or should that be unfortunately?) it was right next door to us, so I could browse to my heart’s content.
ACB (Art, Creations et Bibliophilie) is a small company based near Morges, specialising in rare books, beautiful ililustrations and limited edition original artworks.
This is a booklover and book collector’s dream. Hand-coloured prints on delicate handmade paper – these are the illuminated manuscripts of the present day.
For the 70th anniversary of The Little Prince, they commissioned a contemporary artist to reinvent the colour prints to accompany the text. I cannot explain how exquisitely made the paper is, what a pleasurable tactile experience it is to leaf through the book.
But, of course, the original artwork is there too – on loose leafs, so you could frame each one of them.
I was also attracted by a leather-bound, gold-edged, hand-coloured edition of Ulysees, but at the price of around 4500 CHF (£3200 or $4700), it was well beyond my budget. However, if I were a millionare, I know in which shop I would go mad when it came to decorating my house!
ACB also had original artwork to decorate their stand and there was one painting by a Chinese artist which caught my eye. Apologies for the rather dim photo.
Only problem was: it was way out of my price range. After three days of hmming and hawing, much soul-searching, worrying and then telling myself that my parents had once upon a time given me some money to buy something memorable for myself on a round birthday (and I never had)… and after the lovely Pierre Perottin and other people at the ACB stand promised to deliver, offered me a better price and allowed me to pay in instalments… reader, I married this painting and am in utter honeymoon bliss!
If you want to see more of the artwork on offer, ACB have a Facebook page or you can contact Pierre Perottin directly on acbperottin[at]gmail[dot]com. They are not paying me to advertise or promote their business, but it’s the kind of thing that us inveterate booklovers might enjoy (to at least dream of!).
The 30th Salon du Livre in Geneva took place from the 27th of April to the 1st of May. Although one of the biggest Swiss press groups Ringier and the Swiss broadcasting corporation have pulled out of the Salon du Livre in Geneva this year, claiming that it’s too expensive to rent a stand and that the impact upon audience or reader figures is negligible, roughly 100 000 visitors beg to disagree with that.
The Salon has lost the ‘international’ in its title, but still brings a fair number of authors from all around the world. This year the country focus was Tunisia, but there were plenty of other non-Swiss, non-French language events. For instance, there was a special Paulo Coelho exhibition and talk given by the famously reclusive Brazilian author. There is an African ‘salon’ and an Arabic ‘pavilion’, a large English language bookseller, plus all sorts of cultural associations within Switzerland (Armenian, Serb, Spanish, Chinese) – and of course the Geneva Writers’ Group was there too, for all those reading and writing in English.
It is not a trade fair, but much more a ‘get to love books’ event, targeted at families and schools and the general reading public.
I didn’t see as many big names this year (or at least not ones I was interested in), but I did get to hear the wonderfully articulate and enthusiastic Dany Laferrière, first black author in the French Academy. He also signed a book for me (and drew a flower, bless him!)
There were a number of famous BD illustrators present, including a special exhibition dedicated to the Swiss claim to fame: the unruly teenager Titeuf.
It was not all about books. There were a lot of musical and comedy events, particularly in the Le Cercle tented area, which had the atmosphere of a jazz club. Well, a well-lit, immaculate jazz club of the Swiss persuasion…
The emphasis is most firmly on interactivity. The Factory this year was designed like a house, with each room in a different colour and theme, where you could share your selfies, your worst nightmare, your superpower, your great secret etc.
Of course, there were plenty of places to eat and rest, and the beloved Swiss cow had to be present somewhere as well.
I didn’t manage to attend any conferences in full, but I did catch the odd 5 minutes here and there. And I got a hug from Alain Mabanckou, who was looking very dapper in a bright blue suit and a hat.
There were fewer craft sections than last year, but there were some beautiful decorations and art objects everywhere. How could I resist these Niki de Saint Phalle women dancers?
In my next post I’ll also tell you about how I fell in love with the art and rare books stand next to ours…
A little twitter conversation with the delightful Janet Emson (if you haven’t discovered her book blog yet, it’s highly recommended, not just by me) had me uttering the words: ‘Dammit, Janet, I love you!’ This, in turn, led me to ponder which films I have really, really loved and watched again and again. The problem is, I love films (and books and songs) for different reasons.
For the subject matter and/or atmosphere:
Terry Gilliam’s Brazil – for the zany, frenetic way it makes fun of dictatorships and the inability to acknowledge any mistakes
Ridley Scott: Blade Runner – for its despairing and visually unforgettable view of the future
Tarkovsky: Stalker and Andrei Rublyev – for showing like no other the pain of creativity and of a demanding God/or authority figure or simply the fear of the Unknown (and self) – we must have had endless discussions about what these films actually mean when we were students (having watched them on pirated copies, as they were banned at the time)
Kieslowski: Three Colours: Blue – for its lyrical depiction of grief and loss
Pretty much all of Hitchcock, with a penchant for Vertigo, North-by-Northwest and Rear Window
Kurosawa: Rashomon – such a revolutionary way of showing different points of view, but also for the expressive face of Toshiro Mifune
Carol Reed: The Third Man – Vienna, black-and-white, whom can you trust and that zither… need I say more?
Robert Mulligan: To Kill a Mockingbird – did anyone not want a father like Gregory Peck?
Michael Curtiz: Casablanca – ties for one of the best end lines in films (see below), plus the luminous glow of Ingrid Bergman and the wit throughout is just wonderful
West Side Story – no matter how many times I see it, it still makes me dance, sing along and cry – plus I wanted to be Natalie Wood and Tony (Richard Beymer) looked uncannily like my first boyfriend
For the male lead:
The English Patient- Ralph Fiennes to look after me when I am dying in the desert
Le Samourai and Plein Soleil – Alain Delon as ruthless and dangerous to know (Plein Soleil is the French version of Ripley)
La Beauté du Diable – Gérard Philippe to sell his soul for me
The Talented Mr. Ripley – Jude Law steals the show as Dickie Greenleaf and makes us condone what Matt Damon is about to do next…
For sheer fun:
Rocky Horror Picture Show – my coming of age film
Some Like It Hot – I can still quote more than half of it, plus the best end line in all of film history (tied with Casablanca)
Bringing Up Baby – absurd but the wittiest dialogue between two of my favourite actors: Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets – the darkest, funniest Ealing comedies, I merely have to see Alec Guiness’ eyes to start laughing (not so much in his more serious roles later on)
And there are so many others, too many to mention. So, which films have you loved? Which films can you watch over and over again? Or are there any films that you only watched once but which left an indelible impression on you?
Thank you to Guy Savage for suggesting that we take a look at the luxurious garden follies of the 18th and 19th centuries. I may have widened the remit somewhat to include architectural follies from around the world, but the UK seems to have the highest number. What that says about the Brits, I don’t know…
If only I had the time, money and energy to rescue some of these wonderful, gracious old buildings! That’s what I would do with my millions, instead of stashing them in offshore funds. And then open them to the public as cultural venues.