Raymond Queneau (1903 -1976)
A master of zaniness and cheerfulness and playfulness. A literary hero. You don't have to read French to enjoy his work, especially Zazie dans le metro(of which Louis Malle made a wonderful movie) and The Sunday of Life("Le Dimanche de la vie"). These are funny books in which unusual main characters confront "the painful nonsense of life's adventures."
"Relax! Go on, have a drink, that'll make you feel better." They drank, and Valentin made a face. "You're certainly the first Frenchman I've ever seen make a face drinking Pernod," said Houssette. "It's because of all those watsits I caught in the colonies," said Valentin. "Ought to have had something else, then." "I wanted to see whether it was still bad for me."
It's a three day weekend in the United States. A great chance to read these two wonderful works. If you can find them...
For many years, I have wandered the literature sections of independent bookstores. In this odyssey I was looking for Calvino, Queneau, Amado, and my other heroes. Borges. Marquez. Vargas Llosa. Whenever I found these authors, I always complimented the store. I cannot tell you how many times my search for these authors was in vain, and how disappointed I was to find that their work was missing. But I don't dwell on that. Instead, I remember the good times, like when I found four novels by Queneau in a tiny bookstore. Was it Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard? I cannot remember the place, only the joy, the delight of this discovery.