Identity.

Music background if you fancy it:
Here & There

My favourite books tend to be coming-of-age stories. Western culture is obsessed with the portrayal of self-realisation. With the exact moment, we finally reach a sense of self that makes everything right, that unlocks the ultimate goal in our lives: happiness. It’s always through intermediaries, however. A job created out of one’s passion, the perfect romantic relationship, a rekindling with family…

I’m so far away from others. At least, that’s how I feel. Like I’m watching the world spinning and I’m out of sync and nothing I do connects me with the beat.

I grew up shielded. I guess it all goes back to my experience with an incubator as a new-born that was expected not to make it. But it never left. People run around and strive for things that I never cared for. Their hearts long and beat faster for stuff that does not resonate with me.

And in my circles, what I love is usually disdained by others.

« What do you sit around all day watching these videos? »
« Stop reading, go outside »
« What don’t you listen to French stuff? »
« Why do you care about Feminism? »
« You’re 25! When are you going to get married (*not vocalised*: to a man)? »

WHO am I?
There are simple answers: I’m a French cis girl, a Southerner with a strong accent. I smile a lot and get reprimanded for it by my teachers. I love dogs and cats. I hate exercising. I’m diabetic. I have coeliac disease and I’m allergic to dairy products. Yes, I’m extremely talkative. I love books but my soul craves mostly for (listening to) music. I’m still a student, despite being 25. I’m an anxious mess with extremely low self-esteem.

To me, these characteristics make no sense.

I was raised in France and surely enough that shaped me. But ever since I taught myself English, everything I have ever consumed was through that language. I even woke up from post-surgery anaesthesia speaking English. It’s the language I use to think, the one I use to learn everything that I’m passionate about, the one I put subtitles in.
But my mother’s family is Spanish and even though I’m not fluent in it —my comprehension / writing skills are high but English comes to my mind more easily when it comes to talking—, I feel called by that part of my lineage. It’s a weird feeling, it’s almost invalid to me. But the ease I experience in learning Spanish, how intrinsically right it felt to visit the country when we toured it back when I was in high-school… I have this connexion with it and yet… neither my appearance nor my name nor my language skills can valid this feeling of belonging somehow.
And then, there are all the things I love learning about. Reading and watching and consuming everything I can about the Victorian era as if my soul needed it.
Since 2009, I watch Asians tv shows. A decade of consuming a type of content on a daily basis, learning the languages, cultural knowledge, another apprehension of the world…
Who I am is a mixture of it all. I am every book I have read and every song I have listened to, cried to, related to. I am every emotion I’ve ever felt and every hardship I’ve had to overcome. The Laurie I was before my diabetes diagnosis surely was radically different than the one I am today, as a chronically ill person who had to experience firsthand what ableism is, who had to grow up quicker than other teens because she had to put needles in her body to get the right to eat.

It feels weird to me to say: I’m French. And yet, it is true. Being French explains how limited my knowledge of the world is, it frames the range of cultural references I have by having been brought up as such. But ever since I was old enough to learn by myself… It doesn’t relate to me. It’s not enough. I don’t want to be restricted by the type of content that reaches the shores of the country I live in…

Identity has no simple answer and it definitely does not have administrative borders.

On the other hand, realising that some people have not grown up with the same landscapes that I was surrounded by, overwhelms me. The fact that they have not watched breathtaking sunsets in our red earth paradise or spent neverending evenings on their patio when it’s 30°C at 10pm and the cicadas are still singing.

But I guess Identity could easily be mistaken for Home

December 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

Hello, everyone, I usually don’t post monthly wrap-up as I like to write long individual reviews for each book I read (for which I’m sure you’re very grateful lol) but this month, I read quite a few books I don’t have that much to say about.

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

Weirdly, I bought this thinking it was a poetry collection of the author? I had seen her name and her books on bookstagram a lot and when I saw this beautiful little book, I thought it a good way to get introduced to her writing.
Now, I’m not a gardener nor am I especially interested in it? But I’m a literature student and I like to study texts and that’s precisely what Lively does in this little book: she studies authors’ knowledge on gardening through the depictions / the space allotted to them in their literary works. She mentioned authors that I had heard of and some I didn’t but it was still interesting, well-written and it felt a cosy reading experience, as well as a quick one.

Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy

I read this book because someone I follow on Instagram gave it 5 stars and it made me curious. Having read it, I definitely think I should have started with the author’ works of fiction first because I felt quite detached to her. However, the writing was impactful, the hardships her family faced were horrendous and she truly was someone to look up to, having gone through all of that. I do believe her works must be powerful if it reflects her own trials and experiences. The discussion on faith especially as she was a woman raised in a catholic environment, was also of great interest to me. If you have any recommendation for her work of fiction, please let me know.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I have been wanting to watch the adaptation available on Netflix for a while, but of course, I needed to read the book first and oh! I’m so glad I did!! I enjoyed this so much. Anne is so endearing in her own quirky very chatty way haha! she’s a ball of energy and dreams and homey feelings. Marilla and Mathew made my heart full. Mrs Lynde infuriated me. I loved the passages at school with Diana and Gilbert and Ruby and all the children. I was wandering in my head in all the places Anne facies renaming. She romanticises life and appreciates the little things, this book calmed me and gave me so much comfort, I’m so grateful for it. I did not expect what happens at the end to… happen! I was soooo heartbroken! Why!!!! My favourite character, I’m so sad!! But also, given that there are 4 sequels I was not expecting to see Anne be a grown§up at the end of the first volume? I’m very curious about the sequel because of that!

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

This was my final book of the year, purely because I wanted something quick, 19th century literature and slow. But I was not expecting it to be so powerful. The narrator’s voice is so strong, so assertive. Her ideas, her values and morals are essential to her and she sets people at the same level of expectations and when they do not meet them, boy do they get criticised sharply (in the narrative, as she needs the money to keep providing for her family). I loved that narrative voice. It was excruciating to know that Anne herself had to go through similar experiences and that possibly she was writing word for word what she had lived… but I can only imagine the power this book had when it got published and those high-society families were faced with a judging mirror of their own selfishness and stupidity. The education these children are given is ridiculous, what the governesses are powerless and the mothers are just helplessly incapable of discernment. It was infuriating.
Now, the problem is much bigger than rich white women being overbearingly forgiving mothers towards their children, as they themselves lacked proper education / development of their judgment but reading Agnes Grey’s experience was painful… so much so that the sweet romance at the end did not bother me, even if you see it coming from chapters away haha!

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville

I must admit it went completely over my head and as I read it for class, I couldn’t ait for my teacher’s explanations lol. When she started talking of capitalism, exploiting workers, men’ doom fate and the life of Melville I realised just how much I was off!! I thought this was some kind of absurd short-story of something but it’s pretty complex and philosophical and I’m far too dumb for it! Now, it makes me think I’ll never be able to understand Moby Dick!

William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe

Clever, creepy, suspenseful and gothic. I liked this short-story a lot, it was interesting to study it too. We were discussing the figure of the creator in class so we talked of psychoanalysis, the autobiography as a genre, Poe’s own life and struggles, etc. This man sure had quite the imaginative mind, although it’s terribly dark and twisted the products are surprising and so well-done!

Rereads

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert L. Stevenson

How many times have I had to reread this book for a class in my 6 years of English studies? Thankfully, I just love it and notice little things each time. Here again, we studied the figure of the creator and of course, it fits the theme perfectly, just as Frankenstein does. But the teacher provided us with a lot of research articles and papers and it made the reading so much deeper and complex, I was very glad to revisit the text in such a way!

Frankenstein 1818 The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

I read it for myself 2-3 years ago and honestly, I had liked it but I knew I had not understood all the philosophical implications of it. I haven’t read Milton, I’m not familiar with the Bible and not well-versed in mythology, nor was I very educated on Romanticism as a genre or the Gothic. I dare say on those two last points, I gain considerable knowledge and the rest was provided by the teacher, so this time I got a loooot from it. Also, I listened to the audiobook, which made appreciate the writing-style even more. Mary Shelley truly was an impressive writer and to write this at such a young age too!! The teacher made us read the 1818 version and I think I had read 1831 but I didn’t notice differences because I remembered more the atmosphere of the book rather than the actual story? Well, except for that cruel ending. Anyway, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to revisit this book thoroughly: it deserved it!

Guide pour des cadeaux littéraires (2020).

Pour les fêtes de fin d’année, les maisons d’édition exposent leurs beaux livres onéreux partout : ils font d’excellents cadeaux. Je suis toujours tentée de m’acheter un nouveau Dautremer ou Lacombe à cette période (des valeurs sûres). Je serais curieuse de connaître les vôtres ?

Les illustrés pour petits et grands

Boréal-Express de Chris Vann Allsburg chez Ecole des Loisirs (coll. Lutin)

Le petit théâtre de Rebecca Dautremer chez Gautier Languereau

Kodhja de Thomas Scotto et Régis Lejonc chez Thierry Magnier

Les illustrés pour les grands


Littérature

Littérature jeunesse

Autour du livre

Quelques suggestions pour les lecteurs.rices pour qui vous ne sauriez choisir un titre en particulier :
— Un carnet de lecture. La personne (ou vous-mêmes!) n’utilise(z) pas Goodreads ? C’est le cadeau idéal et sur Etsy, on en trouve des sublimes tout en soutenant des artisans et artistes directement.
— Un abonnement à une boîte livresque. Pour les lecteurs qui sont curieux de tous les genres et aventureux dans leur goûts !
— Un abonnement à une plateforme proposant des livres-audio. Quelqu’un qui n’a pas le temps de se poser avec un livre mais qui adore lire ? quelqu’un qui a beaucoup de transport en commun / trajet dans sa journée ? Quel cadeau idéal !
— Un abonnement à la médiathèque locale ! Ne sous-estimez pas les ressources de vos établissements publics de lectures : ils cachent de petites pépites et essaieront toujours de vous dégoter auprès de la bibliothèque départementale les petits bijoux que leur budget ne leur permet pas d’acquérir eux-mêmes !
— Un coffret livresque. Les oeuvres complètes d’auteurs, une saga entière, une édition reliée sublime. Qui n’adore pas les livres quand ils ressemblent à des oeuvres d’art !

Alors, qu’offrirez-vous à vos proches / à vous-mêmes ? ❤️


Pour ma prochaine publication, je vous partagerai mon avis sur mon livre préféré de l’année 2020, une idée du titre dont il s’agit ?

xx,
Laurie

Book Review | Écoutez nos défaites de Laurent Gaudé.

Les romans polyphoniques ne sont pas ma tasse de thé, je finis toujours par préférer un point de vue et m’ennuyer durant les autres… Sauf quand l’écriture m’hypnotise et qui de mieux pour cela que Laurent Gaudé ? J’avais lu Cris pour le D.U.T. et ce petit ouvrage m’avait laissée sans voix (et le cœur brisé).

En 2016, j’avais feuilleté la première page d’Ecoutez nos défaites en librairie. Je n’avais pas voulu acheter la version grand format de chez Actes Sud (je leur préfère la collection format poche Babel) mais il ne semblait jamais paraître jusque récemment. Alors je l’ai emprunté à la médiathèque et le résumé à lui seul annonçait la tristesse du contenu.

Au cœur d’une réalité caractérisée par des attentats terroristes et des guerres incessantes, une femme et un homme, tous deux pleins de secrets, partagent une nuit de déconnexion avant de retourner à leur vie entourée de destruction, de mort et de saccages. Passionnés, confondant leur travail avec leur identité propre, ils continuent d’avancer, de se battre. Ils ont le sentiment constant de crier dans le vide.

Dans leurs pas résonnent ceux qui les ont précédés : certains chapitres racontent donc la quête d’Hannibal, l’engagement d’un capitaine durant la guerre de Sécession. Les sacrifices de leurs hommes, leurs ambitions démesurées, leurs cris dans le vide…. et bien sûr, leur défaite… à tous.

Mélancolique et désabusé, ce portrait lyrique de la folie des hommes subjugue par une écriture à couper le souffle, un désespoir et une rage de vaincre étouffante et des personnages qui continuent de hanter le lecteur bien après avoir refermé l’ouvrage. Comme toujours avec Laurent Gaudé, c’est une pépite à découvrir absolument.

Juste, au moment de se quitter, lorsqu’ils se serraient la main, cette phrase que le poète palestinien lui avait dite, les yeux plantés dans les siens : “Ne laissez pas le monde vous voler les mots.” Il le revoit là, avec ce visage de pierre, et c’est la première fois qu’il y repense. C’était des années plus tôt. Et il doit bien avouer qu’il a laissé le monde lui voler les mots. Il n’a été question que de gestes. L’action, qui s’empare de tout, ne laisse plus de place à rien. L’action avec son ivresse et son intensité qui rend tout si fade en comparaison.

Note : 5 sur 5.