Maquina Lectora

Notes of a curious mind

Tag: Shakespeare & Co

An evening at Shakespeare and Company with Andrew Kaufman.

Andrew Kaufman is a film maker, radio producer, and author. He lives in Toronto, Canada and his debut novel “All may friends are superheroes” was a cult hit. The story in short is: Tom’s friends are all superheroes while he is a regular guy. Tom’s tragedy is that he is invisible to his wife, The Perfectionist, whose power, as her name indicates, is to make everything perfect. It is a charming, incredibly joyful book about love.

Explaining the idea of his Superheroes, Kaufman said that they are “the exaggeration of what you would like to be. It’s like that in a good day, when you feel you are awesome!”

Anyway, the evening in Shakespeare and Company, was dedicated to Kaufman’s new novel “The Waterproof Bible,” a beautiful, quirky and funny book.

Rebecca has an unusual problem. She can’t stop broadcasting her feelings to people around her. Luckily, she’s discovered how to trap and store them in personal objects.

Just before her sister’s funeral, Rebecca and her brother in law, Lewis are interrupted by an unexpected encounter with a green woman. Aberystwyth, aka Aby (the green woman) is driving across Canada, with a stolen car. She feels uncomfortable out of the water but she must save the soul of her dying mother. Their encounter sets off a chain of events which sends each of them on a personal quest for redemption, happiness and love.

Like the Superheroes, “The Waterproof Bible,” deals with water and powers. It seems that Kaufman has a fascination with water. But the similarities between the two stories end right there. In the Waterproof Bible, as the story grows becomes more bizarre and powerful. The same time everything in the story seems to be completely sensible and rational. It’s brilliant.

There is an element of magic realism in the book which is combined nicely with the authentic and indigenous roles and behaviours. The language is simple and beautiful; I particularly liked the use of the Icelandic words.

Between the two books, I liked more “The Waterproof Bible.”  Maybe, because I read it before the Superheroes. In any case, I have to say that Andrew Kaufman agrees with me!

An excerpt from The Waterproof

It is important to understand that, for devout Aquatics simply being unwatered is a sin. At the core of the religion is a belief in the Finnyfir, or Great Flood. In this way Aquaticism is not unlike Judaism or Christianity, but with one central difference: where those religions believe God flooded the world in order to start again, Aquatics believe God simply liked water better.
Aquatic scripture reaches that God found the land imperfect. He thought the mountains are messy, the deserted too dry and the fjords a little too showy. He didn’t like the way the creatures He’d put on lad did nothing but fight themselves. The only thing God liked about His creation was the water. He loved the lakes, rivers and oceans. He loved the way water moved, He loved the colours it came in and the sounds it made. God liked the sorts of creatures that lived in it, and was very proud that it could exist as a solid, a liquid or a gas.

Berlin: A city that ran on its chronometric scale on a Book of Clouds

While I was in Paris, I went to a book reading at the bookstore Shakespeare & Company. The place was completely packed with books and people and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. The magical environment of Shakespeare & Co., and the good wine certainly contributed to the success of this enjoyable evening.

The author Chloe Aridjis read from her debut novel “Book of Clouds.” I bought the book the same evening and I read it few weeks later. At the beginning I was captivated by the words. And then by the story, a complex, multi-layered story, and poetically almost magically, weaved .

Tatiana, a young Mexican Jew woman, settles in Berlin in the early part of the twenty-first century, and cultivates a solitude life, she finds herself “needing other people less and less.” She has a part-time job as a transcriber for an elderly historian named Doktor Weiss, but was she has really become is “a professional in lost time” in a city which “ran on its own chronometric scale.”

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An evening with Chloe Aridjis at Shakespeare & Co., Paris.

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