La Boutique du Sommeil

J’en rêvais depuis longtemps. Depuis mes 17 ans, je dirais. Et enfin, après des années passées à procrastiner, j’ai enfin écrit un roman.

Enfin… le premier jet d’un roman. Il me reste encore à relire le tout, et retravailler certains points de l’histoire.

Longtemps, j’ai tenté de retranscrire les histoires qui me venaient en tête, mais je n’avais jamais réussi à écrire plus de trois pages jusqu’à maintenant. Et puis, j’ai découvert Scribay. Ce site est merveilleux : il permet d’écrire, en organisant les chapitres, et surtout, de communiquer avec d’autres écrivains amateurs. Il est possible d’annoter les textes, de les commenter, et c’est un très bon moyen de se motiver.

Chaque jour, je me suis efforcé d’écrire au moins 500 mots, et grâce à ce site, j’ai vite réalisé que les retours me faisaient beaucoup de bien. C’est ainsi que j’ai pu créer mon histoire.

La Boutique du Sommeil, c’est une sorte de thriller. Un roman policier, sans police. L’histoire débute avec un inconnu qui se dirige vers une boutique mystérieuse. Y travaille un jeune anglais, Ezra, qui va aider l’homme dans sa quête d’un “soulagement de la conscience”.

Quelques semaines plus tard, la propriétaire d’une boutique dans le Passage du Grand Cerf rencontre Ezra, et c’est une histoire d’amour qui commence. Mais le jeune homme est hanté par certaines erreurs qu’il a commises dans le passé.

Je pourrais vous en dire plus, mais je ne veux pas spoiler. En attendant, l’histoire (pas encore corrigée) est disponible sur le site Scribay, en cliquant sur le lien sur la bannière principale de mon blog, ou en cliquant ICI.

N’hésitez-pas à me contacter, ou à commenter si vous souhaitez discuter de l’histoire. Elle n’est pas parfaite, loin de là, et je reste ouvert aux différentes suggestions.

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Book review #1 – The Vernon Subutex Trilogy

I first discovered the crude language of Virginie Despentes on some TV Talk Show. I knew nothing about her, except that she was a writer and filmmaker, and that I had been advised before to check her work out. So I kept watching the interview, slowly but deeply falling in love with her words. By the end of the show, I knew that I would love her prose and I decided to give it a try. That was about two years ago!

The second experience I had with Despentes was in a bookshop. I usually spend a lot of time wandering among the different sections, looking at book covers, reading back covers, and trying to decide what books to buy. This process can take hours. So I was in that bookshop, looking for a gift for a friend and after what seemed like decades, I was attracted to a yellow cover (a gut feeling of some sort). This was when I discovered Apocalypse Bébé. I knew that it would be the perfect gift for my friend or, at least, I trusted the idea I had of Despentes from the interview. I also knew that it was time I read something from Despentes.

Among the many books she wrote, I chose Vernon Subutex (VS) for two reasons : I liked the name and the book cover (Grasset Editions). I had had a similar experience with Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I decided to buy the first VS.

640_subutex

I have felt an incredible amount of different emotions during my readings. Some books I have finished with the mouth wide open, overwhelmed with shock and excitement. Yet, I had never had goosebumps before reaching the end of Subutex.

So, what’s the story about anyways? The book follows the adventures of its eponymous hero Vernon, a middle-aged Parisian man, ex-record shop owner, who finds himself homeless and travels through the streets of Paris, crashing at friends and basically just surviving. No need to tell you more…

In the story, Despentes explores many themes which show some of 20th and 21st centuries’ lifestyles in the worlds of prostitution, trading and most importantly, music (among others). Subutex constantly moves from places to places and by doing so, discovers a lot about human nature. Spirituality and religion play an important part in the series, especially from the second work.

Despentes’ prose really helps the reader relate to the different characters. Our ideas and believes are continuously challenged as we encounter new characters. Every chapter is written with a first-person narrator and every character (many outcasts) has a right to tell the story of the life of Vernon Subutex. I was referring earlier to the crudeness of Despentes’ language. Well, what I love about this series is that it seems that the author really worked on each character’s way of speaking.

I absolutely love stories which are told with a stream of consciousness voice, and Vernon Subutex is a great example of this style of prose. Thanks to this process, we learn so much about the characters’ visions of the world, they speak with no hypocrisy and we have an exceptionally realistic portrait of 21st-century Paris.

This is my first book review and I am afraid to say too much about the story or the book. I do believe that everyone should read these books, in French if possible, as it is a great social and spiritual journey. I will end this with a quote from the first book which I really liked.

“La vie se joue souvent en deux manches : dans un premier temps, elle t’endort en te faisant croire que tu gères, et sur la deuxième partie, quand elle te voit détendu et désarmé, elle repasse les plats et te défonce.”

 

NB : next review will be on the work of Kundera

Creative Writing Story #3

Enchanted forest

The exercise was to use a usual environment (here a library) and to transform it into a “beast”, through the eyes of the main character.

It was a dangerous place to live in, dangerous but exciting. The hall was giant and you could hardy see the other side of the room when you stand at the door. The ceiling was high and the many humidity stains on it looked like stars in a cloudless sky. The room was filled with hundreds of books, it could have been thousands, all stacked up like giant sequoias, trying to reach the sky. Right in the centre of the room, a leak from the broken ceiling let the rain form a swamp and some frogs had made it their home.

I had lived there for a couple of months, maybe more. I had become an adventurer, a savage, and I was back in time when there was no electricity. I had built a shed for myself, and whenever I was hungry, I would hunt in the neighbouring forest called supermarket. I was fine in my magical forest for a while. I would climb the trees to observe nature, I would stare at the stars, lying among the sequoias, thinking of the past and dreaming about the future. I was fine, believe me, until it happened.

I remember it was during the night because I could barely see the stars in the sky – they only appeared during the day, and the trees had turned dark. I had built a fire to lighten the room and I needed more wood to make it last for the night. There was a tree called Shakespeare I was bored of, I thought it would resuscitate the fire for a long time. It was on the other side of the forest, across the swamp in an area known as the drama woods. I needed a torch so I lit a stick that was called Hemingway and I hoped it would last long enough. I was not scared because I was the only inhabitant of the land, apart for the frogs. It did not take me long to cross the forest but when I arrived in the drama woods, the sun was already rising because the stars appeared in the sky. I wondered why I should still find wood for the fire now that it was day again, and I decided I should build a stock.

It was not before I started to search for the Shakespearean tree that I realised there was something wrong. A nauseating smell was filling the area, as if there had been a dead carcass lying there for a month. I found it strange since I knew there was no animal in the forest, except for the few frogs croaking at night. The forest had become quiet. I crossed the drama woods towards the edge of the forest – I had never gone there before, and this is where I found her. I thought at first it was a trunk, but I quickly realised it was a fairy, a princess from a children’s story. She had stopped breathing.

I felt everything turning around me, I almost vomited. I was crying. I sat on the floor and trying to comfort myself by looking at the stars but reality was overwhelming. Instead of a sky full of stars, all I could see was a bunch of stains. I tried to sit against a tree but they had all disappeared. I was left in a creepy room full of books, with the corpse of my late wife.

Creative Writing Story #2

The sound of freedom

We had to choose a piece of music we liked or a food that was linked to a memory and write somthing about it.

Worried, Jack looked around him in search of his parents. All he could see instead was a crowd of tourists in a hurry that were coming and going by the carousel. Nobody seemed to notice that he was alone, they were all obsessed with their cameras, trying to find the perfect angle for the perfect souvenir photo.

On most other days, he loved Montmartre, its old merry-go-round and he loved to watch the crowd walking by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. But it was different this time, he was lost. His parents had disappeared.

Jack decided that he should sit on a bench to wait for his parents. They would soon realize he was missing, wouldn’t they? He approached a bench on which an old lady was sitting. With a surprising energy, she was throwing breadcrumbs to the famished pigeons around her. Jack became quickly angry against everyone around him when he realized his parents were not part of the crowd.

The sun was shining in a cloudless sky and a chilly wind was blowing away the few leaves that had already freed themselves from the trees. It was a common weather for a day of October. The wind made Jack shiver. He had hardly protected his hands in his pockets when he realized that he still had biscuits his mother had given to him. In fact, he was starving.

The biscuits were envelopped in some silver foil, as his mother would do on a school day. Jack loved the texture of the foil and the delicious perfume of the chocolate that flew away up to his nose when he would unwrap the biscuits.

When he was sure that the old lady was gone, and so were the pigeons, he softly unwrapped his snack. He approached the chocolate biscuits to his nose to feel the perfume but he felt nothing. The magic was gone. Even the music arising from the carousel, that sweet music of his childhood, started to annoy him. Undoubtedly, Jack was angry.

He put the biscuits back into the foil and squeezed them so strongly that he could feel them break into crumbs. The ball he was holding in his hand gave him an idea. Since his parents were probably on their way to find him, he should have some fun in the meanwhile.

He stood up and walked to the carousel. Some mothers were placing their children on the fake horses of the merry-go-round. Jack waited for the carousel to start turning and he quickly jumped on it. Nobody noticed him. He took hold of a steel bar that was holding a white wooden horse. Again, he unwrapped the biscuits that were now in shreds and placed them with the foil on the back of the animal. Then, with a loud and childish laugh, he started throwing the crumbs on the tourists that were innocently walking by the attraction.

The show was hilarious. The confused tourist, hit by the biscuit, were glacing around in search of the guilty of the attacks. Jack was taking malicious pleasure in throwing his snack on them. The music of the carousel was resounding in his ears so loudly that he could no longer hear the voices of the people around him.

Jack was about to throw the last crumb he had to an Asian tourist when he felt a pressure on his arm. Suddenly, the carousel and the music stopped. Jack turned around to see who had ended his game. What he saw terrified and comforted him. He was not lost anymore, but it was an angry and ashamed father that had found him.

Creative Writing Story #1

It has been a long time since I wrote something on this blog. I have been quite busy moving in England and settling in my new job. Also, I have felt a lack of inspiration lately, and I was too lazy to force myself to write.

Since I have not created any new piece lately, I am publishing very short stories that I had to write for my creative writing classes in uni last year in Dublin. They are only drafts but I really like them.

Conscience of a photograph

Here, we had a photograph of a boy and a girl, sitting next to the sea, both the characters were looking away, and I imagined them as part of the youth of the 1920s in the United States.

Paul remained staring at the calm sea. He heard her moving behind him. It was a pertinent question she had asked. Indeed, what was holding him back?

‘My father,’ he started. ‘He is the one that has put a spoke in my wheel. He is the poison. The day I told him I wanted to be a poet, oh! I remember well, he cut me short. I already made plans for you and I will not comply with you insanity, he said to me. You see Margaret, my father owns a shipping company in Florida and Monsieur has decided that I should run the company when he retires. I will not, I shouted at him. But apparently, I have no choice and my voice does not count. I told him that I would flee, that I would leave to Europe but he sure knows I won’t let my little sister alone with him now that my mother has died. God blesses my mother. If only she was alive, she would have let me follow my dream. Did you know Margaret, that my mother was fond of English poetry? Every sunday, she would read me Shakespeare’s Sonnets. She especially loved Sonnet 18. Do you know it, Margaret? Oh! You should definitely read it. Oh! How I miss my poor mother!

My father never understood our interest in the magic world of poetry. I bet he has not tried hard anyway. He aspires to money and money only. Poor soul! Believe it or not, Margaret, I even wrote him a poem once. I remember it well! It started with : Once again it happened, drowned in the depths of my sorrows, I contemplated my soul. Do you know what his reaction was? He tore the paper into pieces without a glimpse towards me and he said coldly that this would not help me run a company. As if I cared about his company! You see Margaret, I don’t dream of power or money at night… I dream of travel and poetry, I dream that my father accepts me for who I am.

Oh, Margaret… Sometimes I wonder, did other poets have parents? What was Shakespeare’s father like? Certainly not like mine, at any rate!

I don’t know what to think anymore nor what to do! On the one hand, I wish I had the courage to travel abroad and be a writer but on the other hand, I cannot resolve to abandon my sister or you, Margaret. Can you imagine what my sister will become if I she falls into my father’s clutches? I understand this must be hard for you to listen to, but believe me when I say that I have no other choice.’

When he had ended his spleen, Paul turned over and looked at Margaret that had remained silent. She had a reassuring smile on her face, a smile that seemed to hide an absurd thought. She put a hand on Paul’s shoulder and said :

‘I think I have an idea!’

What I am working on

(I wrote yesterday about my writings for the summer, and I said I was working on something bigger. I still don’t know where I am going to, but here is an extract of what I’ve done so far. This is not the original text, as I am writing in French but a quick translation I’ve done. Sorry for the syntax.)

For a while, I have thought that happiness didn’t exist, or that it existed only in fairy tales. I have, of course, had moments of joy, but I never thought these feelings would last. Isn’t happiness an eternal joy, the feeling that everything would be fine, forever.

For years, I denied the existence of happiness itself, and then I understood that we could decide whether to be happy or not. Nonetheless, I needed time for an epiphany to manifest itself.

It started few months ago, when I met a friend from childhood. Summer was almost over, and for the first time, I was to enter university. Some of the trees has already started to loose their leaves and the temperature had fallen. I was walking to university, smelling the morning fresh air. The sun was slowly moving in the sky, and clouds were threatening us with rain.