Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Thoughts I've had and that I've forgotten to think

Out browsing books, I couldn't resist bringing home A Climate of Fear, by Fred Vargas. It's been a while since I read Vargas. I vaguely recall bingeing and having had my fill, with nothing else to fill the void. But that was years ago. She's still writing.

This mystery starts off with two victims of apparent suicides. They're definitely not suicides. And these two individuals knew each other, having both been on expedition in Iceland years before. Their group had been lost in the fog, stranded for weeks on a remote island — afturganga territory.

But it turn out they have another connection: both were members of a reenactment society, performing the speeches of Maximilien Robespierre.

(And then more apparent suicides ensue.)

So it's in keeping with Commissaire Adamsberg's methods that I should read this, explore the meaning behind the novel's coincidental surfacing on my metaphorical bookshelf. I mean: I've just been to Iceland, am engrossed in all things Icelandic. And I'm also currently re-embroiled in the French Revolution, Assassin's Creed: Unity style, just because it felt like the right way to kick off the new year. These two all-consuming yet disparate interests somehow bound together in this novel in front of me.

I love when books collide with life in unexpected ways!
"You ought to be able to work it out. Try. It was a thought that came to you and you hadn't finished thinking it. You shouldn't lose thoughts like that, hombre. Have to be careful where you put things. And your second in command, the commandant, does he feel the itch as well? Or that one with the stripy hair?"

"No, neither of them."

"That means it must be a thought peculiar to you. It's a pity thoughts don't have names, isn't it? You could call them up, and they'd come and lie down at our feet, crawling on their bellies."

"I think we have ten thousand thoughts a day, or millions we don't know about."

"Yeah, agreed," said Lucio, opening his second bee, "it would be chaos."

Adamsberg went inside to the kitchen, finding there his son, who was eating bread and cheese, as he worked on the jewellery he had started making to sell.

"Are you going to bed already?"

"I need to look for thoughts I've had and that I've forgotten to think."

"Oh, I see," said Zerk, with perfect sincerity.
Vargas's writing is elegant and witty, her characters subtly charming. How quintessentially Parisian.

[Why do I read about Paris? Another all-consuming interest. I miss his voice, the delicacy of his dirty words, utterly non-Quebecois. The power of his gentle kiss on my neck. Ah, Paris.]

No comments: