Monday, May 14, 2012

CCL. In which a picture is unveiled and a blogger reaches drinking age.

Before I say anything else, I’d like to turn your attention to this brilliant picture that was drawn for me by Daniel, a fellow Pole who goes by the moniker of “daekazu” on DeviantArt. You can find his profile here. He does some really fine stuff, and I’m absolutely delighted with this picture!

“Ah, but Patrick,” you must surely be saying, “that’s not all! Would you create a new post just to show off a new picture of yours?” I can only congratulate your deduction skills, for this is a post that will deal with several things at once. The first of these is, of course, the new picture, which will be displayed on some parts of the site from now on, such as the “Prime Suspect” page (which had a fairly generic and somewhat dull picture before this).

Well, another year has gone by and guess what? Today is May 14th! (Unless, of course, you’re from the future, in which case, please let me know whether the public has had the sanity to forget the Kardashians, whoever they are.) And do you know what that means? It’s my birthday—more specifically, my 19th birthday! For those of you who fail to grasp the significance of this, the legal drinking age in Canada is 19. So how about joining me in a glass of rough cider?

No, seriously, I went to LCBO just for these.

What does this new milestone mean? Well, for one thing, I am no longer saluting you with a glass of Perrier (which is the nectar of the gods, of course, but that’s for another day). By a strange coincidence it’s also my 250th post! But more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to write a reflection on this blog… and I swear this is all heading somewhere, so please, don’t change that channel.

When I started the blog, I was doing it for my book reviews. I had been doing something similar for a while, doing a sort of one-man-book-club by reading several books and posting my running commentary as I progressed through them, summing up my thoughts in the end. Unfortunately, at times my fast reading pace meant that I would write two posts: one to announce that I had just started The Affair of the Abominable Albino and looked forward to reading more, and the other to announce that I had just finished the book and here-are-my-thoughts and what-book-should-I-read-next... A blog seemed a good solution, especially after TomCat created Detection by Moonlight.

But it took me a while to put the idea together—more specifically, it took an infuriating book to kick-start it. Readers are probably well-aware by now of the embarrassingly bad video I put together mocking George Baxt’s The Affair at Royalties. I have already expressed embarrassment at my line delivery and the way the video was shot, so I will spare you my detailed thoughts. But the mystery community is a forgiving one, and instead of being crucified I was welcomed into the world of mystery blogging.

Remember this monstrosity? It used to be on top of the page...

They were humble beginnings, right enough, but where am I, over a year after the blog’s creation? Well, I can now legally consume alcohol, so my first video is far easier to watch now… My book collection has also increased at an alarming rate—when I started out, I didn’t even own a single Paul Halter novel. Now, I have almost all of them, and have sizable collections of books by other French authors, such as S. A. Steeman and René Reouven.

There have been several memorable moments on this blog— reading J. J. Connington and Henry Wade for the first time, finding out about Margaret Millar (thank you, Julian Symons—and no, that wasn’t sarcasm), blatantly plagiarising Doug Greene in an article on Derek Smith and his novel Whistle up the Devil, getting to do several crossover reviews with other bloggers, contacting Roland Lacourbe and Paul Halter (and getting to interview the latter!)… and now I’d like to announce something else that I will be focusing on for the next little while...

That’s right.

I’m going to try my hand at translation.

More specifically, I intend to attempt translating René Reouven’s Tobie or not Tobie, a wonderful book I read last year which I consider a masterpiece of a detective story.

Why am I going to do this? There are several reasons. Most notably, I’m going to have several months off of school, and during my break, I want to do something useful with my time. Translating a novel like this seems like a good idea, and the only challenge left (once I’ve made up my stubborn little mind to go through with such a project) is talking to the people responsible to negotiate the English translation rights. But like I said, I can be incredibly stubborn, and I hope I will soon be able to announce something more definite on translation rights.

But wait! That’s not all! What else can I possibly be holding up my sleeve? Well

Thanks to the help of M. Roland Lacourbe (to whom I will forever owe a debt of the deepest gratitude), I was able to contact M. René Reouven himself over the weekend! This was an incredible honour for me, as someone who holds the deepest admiration for the author’s work. M. Reouven turned out to be an extremely intelligent and kind man, who was only too glad to help me out as best as he could (although unfortunately he himself did not own the translation rights to his work). And afterwards… he consented to give me an interview!!! But that’s not the best part yet… what’s even better is that this interview was recorded and is now on YouTube (with the author’s permission, of course)!!!

That’s right, it’s a 50 minute session of me pestering M. Reouven with questions, which he kindly answered. After a while, though, I decided to abandon a traditional interview format, and the discussion went its own merry way, while I tried to worm in some questions here and there that I had prepared. The result is a discussion between two enthusiasts, as M. Reouven elaborates on his reasons for writing his new young adult novel, how he came to love mystery and science fiction, and what he considers is the greatest crime a mystery author can commit. We talk about locked-room mysteries, French authors both past and present, Jules Verne, Nero Wolfe, political correctness in modern day reprints, and of course Sherlock Holmes, whom we both admire—in particular, we spend quite a bit of time on the untold stories in the Canon that Dr. Watson alludes to!

Those who can understand French can find the YouTube video posted on my French-language blog, along with an introduction in which I apologise for my atrocious French accent and some factual errors I made in the interview. I also warn viewers of potential spoilers (the spoiler-heavy section is between 4:30 and 10:00), although for a 50 minute discussion, I think we did an admirable job avoiding spoilers as a whole!

But what if you do not understand French? Well first off, I must thank my lucky stars that you will not understand just how bad my oral French is. But rest assured you will not be forgotten: I will translate our interview (all glorious 50 minutes of it!) and will post an update when the translation is ready. So here’s my question for you: would you rather read subtitles on the French-language video, or have a text interview like the one I did with Paul Halter?

It was a true honour to get to talk with an author I admire so much, and to let him know how much his work means to me. I’m cursed with the knowledge that I can never write a fan letter to John Dickson Carr. I can never ask Agatha Christie where she gets her ideas, though she kindly answered me anyways in Passenger to Frankfurt’s introduction. I’ll never get to correspond with Edmund Crispin, and I can only insult Julian Symons posthumously (which is too easy a target). That’s why this interview is such a major moment for me. And I cannot think of a more perfect birthday present.

Thank you to everyone for checking in to the crime scene, because without you, I wouldn’t be writing these reviews. I hope you all enjoy the interview, whether you get to see it today or whenever I finish translating it.

20 comments:

  1. Happy 19th birthday, Patrick, and best of luck with translation M. Reouven's book. Looking forward to it.

    By the way, that drawing makes you look like a crime-fighting Harry Potter, which is sort of funny, since J.K. Rowling is working on a detective story. A mere coincidence or is Keeler also haunting DA? ;)

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    1. Thanks TomCat-- I hope the translation goes well also!

      A crime fighting Harry Potter, you say? Incidentally, a plot description of Rowling's book was released, and I swear it sounds like a parody of mysteries as written by Steven Colbert...

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  2. Happy Birthday Patrick! The drawing is fantastic! I checked out Daniel's site and he is extremely talented. My son is an artist also. Also happy 250th post! I'm looking forward to the next 250.

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    1. Thank you Peggy Ann! I hope the blog will be around to pester people for a long time to come. ;)

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  3. Buon compleanno Patrick (as they would say in my old country). Congrats as always on the excellence of your site - the translations project sounds very exciting and I certainly look forward to hearing of your progress.

    All the best mate (I shan't say 'cheers' as I'm tee-total and wouldn't want to appear to be a total hypocrite),

    Sergio

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    1. Thanks for the wishes, Sergio. I look forward to the translation-- I at last got underway last night, and although it's very challenging to do M. Reouven's style justice, I think it's very rewarding as well!

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  4. Happy birthday, Patrick. That drawing is terrific - I agree with TomCat's comment; it DOES make you look like Harry Potter transported to Sherlock Holmes's London. I hope all your plans for the blog and for the translation come to fruition!

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    1. Well, that's two votes for Harry Potter now! ;)

      Thanks for commenting Les, and I also hope the translation project goes well!

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  5. Happy Majority, Patrick!

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  6. I'm still to young to drink, Patrick, but I wish you the happiest of birthdays!!

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  7. Happy birthday and many congratulations on the quality of your blog.

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    1. As an admirer of your own excellent blog, let me just say that I'm very pleased about your kind words on my own humble effort! Thank you for commenting!

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  8. Happy B'Day Patrick. God I never realised you were so young. Remarkable achievements in a short span of time. Congratulations.

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    1. Thank you for the kind wishes, neer-- and here's to more great reading in the future!

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  9. Sorry to be so late to this (indexing). Great job with the blog and over the years I've found being able to drink legally can be an enjoyable thing so congratulations on the birthday as well.

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