Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paris in the 20s

A small part of the idea of "Saigon: Too Big To Fail (The Bear Stearns Transgression)" is to depict the city of Saigon, circa 1969, the way Woody Allen depicted New York in the 70s and 80s, or Hemingway or Fitzgerald depicted Paris in the 20s.  And although such an effort is a total fiction, it's not so far from the mark.   Saigon was a horrible place in the late 60s, but in the 40s and 50s it was one of the jewels of French Indochina.

So you carry this idea around with you, assuming you are me, and it informs bits and pieces of what you do on a daily basis.  Case in point, I found myself in the Troy public library one day (ten cents a day if your book is overdue), staring at a book titled Z, by Therese Anne Fowler.  A fictionalized biography of Zelda and Scott Fitgerald in Paris in the 20s, it's written from Zelda's point of view.  I loved it.

Days later I found myself in the local book store and mentioned how much I'd liked Z to the woman behind the desk and she told me I should read The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain.  Same idea -- Paris in the 20s as told by Hadley Hemingway.  Which flagged a bit in the middle, but finished strong and I very much enjoyed that too.  What a shit her husband was.  He once wrote to her "I wish I'd died before I fell in love with anyone after you."

Okay.

Feeling my oats I wandered into the TPL this morning, after having bought some aerosol insulating foam from the hardware store so that I can sculpt Perseus and the Head of Medusa, and rented A Moveable Feast by E. Hemingway.  As if I had to say.  And halfway through the first story, titled A Nice Cafe on Rue St. Michel", or something like that, my mind came upon the opening line of "Saigon: Too Big To Fail (The Lehman Explosion)", which goes, as we speak but not likely when all is said and done, something like ...

"I was sitting in a nice cafe on Rue Le Loi drinking half a carafe of the good white wine they have  there and eating a few oysters.  The monsoon had started and the rain cracked like hail against the widows.  How they got oysters like this in Saigon I'll never know, but eating one felt like French kissing the Atlantic Ocean, just east of Block Island."

Something like that.

Plus, there's this ...


1 Comments:

Blogger John Harbour said...

There definitely is a Hemingway feel to your story, although I think its a bit richer and not as hard around the edges. I feel I can make this observation, being a writer born of two fathers, Hemingway and Steinbeck. Sort of the Barnes and Elias from Platoon, fighting for my writing soul. And I question your admonishment of his quote to Heddy. Although he is a bit of a shit intimating that there will be others, he is saying that he does wish her to be the last love of his life...passive agressive much Hem?

If it was Hemingway it would be...

"I was sitting in a nice cafe on Rue Le Loi drinking a half a carafe of the house white wine while eating a few oysters and the wine was good and cold and the kind of wine you would want to drink while eating oysters on the Rue. How they got oysters like this in Saigon I'll never know, but eating one felt like French kissing the Atlantic Ocean, just east of Block Island." The monsoon had started and the rain cracked like hail against the widows and you knew that because of the rain you would be here all night."

Love STBTF. Mean it.

6:58 PM  

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