Sunday, January 21, 2007

My beloved crocodile,

This is how Simone de Beauvoir starts one of her love letters to Nelson Algren, an American writer with whom she had a 17-year transatlantic love affair. Her relationship with him inspired certain sections of her brilliant Goncourt-winning novel "Les Mandarins". I had read and loved the book in University and decided to re-visit it before our trip to NYC. I "remembered" that a lot of action takes place in New York and thought it would be fun to see the Big Apple through Simone's eyes (But actually, most of the American storyline happens in Chicago. My memory for books and movies is unreliable at best.)

Anyway, while I was in New York, I found a book at The Strand that I had been looking for for years. It's the letters Simone wrote to Nelson during their affair. She wrote them in her charming if clumsy English, and they had previously only been available in a French translation. Even though French is my mother tongue, I wanted to read the original versions, spelling mistakes and all.

The letters are incredibly endearing and I love all the sweet and silly nicknames she gives her beloved. It made me think of all the terms of endearment people give their loved ones. For instance, I've referred to my husband in a previous post as my "petit chou", a very common French nickname, which means "my little cabbage". And coco is what "my chou" calls me. We have other secret names for each other, but I'll keep those for myself...

Other examples of Simone's mots doux:

My own beastish beast,
Sweetest beloved you,
My poor dearest American dilemma,
Dearest nutty king of nothing,
My own old owl,
My nice faraway wrapped in the blizzard you,

Sigh... The lady knew how to start a letter! This was back when people actually handwrote words on real paper instead of emailing via laptop, or horror of horrors, texting sweet nothings on their cell phones.

Anyhow, all this rambling to talk about a few books I bought in NYC.

Another book I picked up was Bohemian Modern.

This design book takes a look at homes in the Silver Lake region of Los Angeles. I happened upon it by pure chance, at Three Lives and Company bookstore (charming place!)
I'm not that familiar with modern Californian design and architecture but the book appealed to me because it features creative people (mostly artists) who really make their homes part of their artistic life. I strive to have that kind of home, in my own little Northern way.

And to end this long, rambly post, I'll show you two FO's: one Koigu sock and one Manos del Uruguay scarf, hanging out together in one of my numerous knitting baskets. I won't give you any close-ups, seeing as I had vowed that this would be a pink-free post. I almost kept my promise.




I love the Strand! What good finds. Sometimes you can strike gold at that place, though it's so huge it's always a pretty draining experience!

The sock and scarf are lovely - the scarf such a beautiful rose color! I never tire of too much pink!



Thanks for the compliments Megan.
Yes the Strand is a fantastic place to browse. You never know what you'll find. I also absolutely LOVED St. Mark's bookstore. So many great places to haunt in NYC!