I'll be launching my book, Fractals, (published by 3:AM Press) at legendary Paris bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, on 24th February at 7pm, and talking to the brilliant writer and critic, Lauren Elkin. Please come. More details here (scroll down events list).
"Something you never thought might happen: after a certain number of years the being who has read all these neglected books will step from your bookshelves, will sit down at your table (conveniently adjacent), will make a cup of coffee at the machine, having seen you use it so many times, especially when about to tackle a book, and will light a cigarette, insubstantial as steam, the odour of which will affect neither your carpets nor curtains. It will be the opposite of you, your inverse."
On 11 March I talked a bit about Oulipo with Lauren Elkin and read a story (extract above) at Shakespeare and Company Bookshop Paris. My story was inspired by George Perec's Voyage D'Hiver and its many responses, some of which can be found here, and also by Perec's and contemporary Oulipian Anne Garréta's essays on bookshelves. Referencing the Voyage D'Hiver tradition as well as hinting at Oulipo's obsession with 'potential' literature, I called it 'Un Voyage Vers...' (A Journey Towards...)
I made a limited edition of signed and numbered prints of the story, hand-lettered, with the above illustration. A few of the sepia edition of 10 are still available at the till at Shakespeare & Co. I also have an edition of 10 in rust as shown above. The print comes in the form of an A4 size booklet with the pic on the front so you can put it on your wall when you've read it if you feel inclined. If you'd like one, they're £7 - or a if it's easier buy me a book from here. The price includes postage anywhere in the world. Please get in touch by leaving a message below or emailing badaude-at-gmail-dot-com.
Here's pic from the event. Seems like we had a lot of fun.
I had a 'brushing' (French for blow-dry) specially for the occasion. I've never had one before, always having thought there's something a bit wimpy about not being able to dry your own hair - but after three nights in the writer's room at the bookshop I was beginning to look a little untidy...
I talked about 'How to be a Tourist' - a short lecture involving a race between a lobster and a turtle (wind-up only I'm afraid)...
...some rather unpleasant leisure-wear...
...and Psychogeographic games (the pic below may not look entirely like a Psychogeographic game but it is, honest).
After a set from the excellent Paris Sheiks...
...I ended the night sitting under the stars on a quai of the Seine with Shakespeare and Company Tumbleweeds until they switched the lights off opposite on Notre Dame.
This morning I woke up with a pocket full of pens. None of them were mine. I guess this is what happens when you do a booksigning.
I'll be doing a slightly longer an even odder version of this talk at the Idler Academy tomorrow, Wednesday 1 June. Book in advance mentioning 'Lobster' (or typing it on the booking page) for £5 off. If you're in London tomorrow, don't miss it!
All photos (c) Lauren Goldenberg of Shakespeare and Company - more of her photos of the event here.
I thought it was all over yesterday - but it wasn't. Bookshop owner/manager, Sylvia thought there could be one adjustment: "It's Ginsberg's big hairy bottom. It may be because it's white but - when you look at the window - it's all you can see!"
Conceding that it might be wiser, I turned the other cheek and erased one of his, redrawing it in white line.
Here's the before:
Here's the after:
Which do you prefer?
And here's the final whole thing:
but I'm just working on a final detail - more later...
IN 1888, A CONCERT in aid of the local Boat Club was held at Breslin’s Hotel on the Esplanade in Bray, County Wicklow. Among the performers were the six-year-old Joyce James, resplendent in his new Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. As the Wicklow Newsletter reported a few days later, little James sang a popular comic Christmas ditty, ‘Houlihan’s Cake’. This is clearly a slightly garbled variant of what was once described as a ‘capital Irish convivial song’, ‘Miss Hoolihan’s Christmas Cake’, which could then be bought on the streets as a penny broadsheet.
The idea was irresistable and apparently echoes of the song did make it into Joyce's later work:
he did allude to it in his last book, Finnegans Wake. On page 58, buried in a passage bulging with in musical quotations, you will find a sentence that takes as inspiration the first line of the song’s chorus: ‘Swiping rums and beaunes and sherries and ciders and negus and citronnades too.’ And if that wasn’t enough, another mangling of the same line appears on page 288, in one of the entirely unilluminating notes with which the author furnished that part of the book: ‘They were plumped and plumed and jerried and citizens and racers, and cinnamondhued.'
After a little searching around the blog I find that Ireland's Other Poetry is run by Mr John Wyse Jackson, author of the book of the same name. To see his transcription of the song click here.
This is what my Christmas window for Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris, looked like about 5 minutes ago. I'll be posting more as it goes along and I'll be working there all weekend. Come by and see it if you're in Paris.
Once drew a picture of the party in Paris (arranged by Sylvia Beach) at which he met his hero, James Joyce.
"Sylvia Beach hosted a dinner party in order that F. Scott Fitzgerald, who worshipped James Joyce, but was afraid to approach him, might do so. Out of nervousness or champagne, Fitzgerald greeted his hero by dropping down on one knee, kissing his hand, and declaring, How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir,that I could weep."
But imagine if he’d invited other English language writers living in Paris (I'm not going to be strict about dates here).
Turns out James Joyce played the piano, which would have been useful for entertainment...
...and he might have brought along his friend, Ezra Pound who might sing a seasonal song:
Winter is icumin in Lhude sing Goddamn, Raineth drop and staineth slop, And how the wind doth ramm! Sing; Goddamn. Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, An ague hath my ham Damn you, Sing, Goddamn. Goddamn, Goddamn, 'tis why I am, So 'gainst the winter's balm. Sing goddamn, damn, sing goddamn, Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!
Jean Rhys knew all about what to drink...
... as did E Hemingway’s, whose cat seems to have been fond of white wine.
Edith Wharton scrubbed up rather well and was fond of high-end gatherings...
...as was Ford Maddox Ford
Anais Nin preferred fancy-dress parties
... or at the very least a dramatic tenue
...as did Janet Flanner
...and Djuna Barnes.
Allen Ginsberg was likely to wear even less conventional costumes (this photo was taken at his 39th birthday party).
(Barry Miles recalls Ginsberg getting very drunk, stripping off completely, putting his underpants on his head and hanging a ‘do not disturb’ sign to his penis.)
William S Burroughs, by contrast, seemed reluctant to take off his hat even indoors.
James Baldwin would just turn up and look elegant...
...as would Henry Miller
Of course Sylvia Beach would be on hand, making sure everything went smoothly:
Assisted by her girlfriend and fellow-bookseller, Adrienne Monnier
As well as current owners, George and Sylvia Whitman
And their team.
Why am I telling you all this? Sylvia Whitman of Shakespeare and Company has commissioned me to draw a Christmas window at the bookshop, based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s sketch. Here's my (very) rough sketch of a Literary Feast:
I’ll be trying to translate all this onto the bookshop windows of Shakespeare and Company from Friday 3rd December.
Please come along and watch. I’ll be there all day on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December. I'll knock off each day when it gets dark and I'll be posting the results.
Shakespeare and Company, 37 Rue Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France