Susie and I flew in from London yesterday, and found two baskets of mail waiting for us, all of which was catalogues, bills, and political appeals for money. Nobody writes letters anymore. How sad.
On Friday, we went to Shakespeare and Company to look for books to read on the flight home. I found an old 1933 Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot mystery, Lord Edgeware Dies. After the five hundred pages of schlock by James Patterson that I chewed through earlier last week, it was a distinct pleasure to spend time with a real writer. [I looked Patterson up on the web. He was quoted as saying that when he creates novels in collaboration with some other author, which apparently is all he now does, he thinks up the plot and "the actual writing of sentences" is left to the collaborator. I thought that was just about the most corrupt description of authorship I had ever read.]
I was surprised by the off-hand anti-semitic remarks by Poirot and others in the Christie book. There was not the slightest suggestion that she was maintaining any sort of ironic distance from the statements she put in her characters' mouths, although she clearly was distancing herself humorously both from Poiret's self-satisfied self-evaluations and from the Bertie Wooster-esqueries of his sidekick Hastings. It seemed pretty obvious to me that this genteel anti-semitism was the common coin of the British upper classes in the early thirties. The anti-semitism played no role in the plot. It was simply woven into the dialogue along with a good deal else.
This morning I took my usual early morning walk. Time changes being what they are, Susie and I awoke at three a.m., so I got a good deal done before it was time to set out. I missed terribly my daily visit with Notre Dame as I turn onto the quais to head west toward the Assemblee Nationale, but this morning I did see deer three separate times, so there are compensations. And the HU Express bus driver honked hello as he passed me. No one in Paris ever says hello to me on my walks.
Once I have caught up with chores, I shall start practicing the viola again and get to work on a mailing to raise money for the African Storybook Project. When the letter is ready, I shall post it here to give you some idea what the project is trying to accomplish.