Home > About reading, American Literature, Crime Fiction, Novel, Polar > Quais du Polar 2017: Day #3

Quais du Polar 2017: Day #3

Today was the last day of Quais du Polar 2017. This morning, we walked around the ground floor of the great book store. It is set in the great hall of the Chamber of Commerce, I suppose the stock exchange was here, the space suits this activity. As you can see, it was crowded and very busy. I wonder how many books were sold over the weekend.

This is only a fourth of a big bookstore.

This gives you an idea of the height of the building. This patio has a second floor with rooms.

I had the chance to talk to Dominique Sylvain and got her book Passage du désir. It called to me with its quote by Emile Ajar (Romain Gary) and its writer comes from the same region as me. It’s the first instalment of a series, so we’ll see. Marina Sofia introduced me to the Romanian publisher Bogdan Hrib and I came home with the book Spada by Bogdan Teodorescu. It’s a political crime fiction novel and I usually enjoy those. It’s going to be an opportunity to read something about Romania.

I attended a great conference by Michel Pastoureau at the Chapelle de la Trinité.

He’s an historian specialized in the history of colors. Since Quais du Polar’s color code is red and black, the interview was about the history and symbolism of the color red. I won’t relate everything he talked about but will concentrate on two ideas, the switch from red to blue as a preferred color and the origin of the French flag.

In Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, red was an important color and blue wasn’t used a lot. It changed at the beginning of the Middle Ages and blue became an important color. It came from a need to picture heavenly light as opposed to earthly light. Artists started to use the color blue for heaven while normal light was white or yellow. Then the Virgin Mary started to wear blue dresses on paintings and kings of France (Philippe Auguste, Saint Louis) wore blue clothes. It became fashionable. And red, a color much fancied until then lost its first place as a great color.

About the French flag. As you probably all know, the French flag comes from the Revolution and is blue/white/red. In school, we all learnt that it looks like this because white is the color of the monarchy and it’s squeezed between the colors of the city of Paris. Actually, this is inaccurate. The French flag comes from the American flag. After the 1776 American revolution, in Europe, the people who supported the ideas conveyed by this revolution started to wear blue/white/red ribbons. So, when the French Revolution decided upon a new flag in 1794, it went for the same colors as the American flag. And since the Dutch had already horizontal strips, they used vertical ones. And since the American flag comes from the Union Jack, I guess France has a flag based upon UK colors. Weird story, right?

It was a fascinating conference, Michel Pastoureau is a wonderful speaker. He knows how to tell anecdotes and the public was drinking his speech.

After that, I went to listen to David Vann discuss with a journalist about his books. It was set in the room that was the former Tribunal de Commerce. (Trade Court)

He explained how he wrote his books. Sukkwan Island was written in two phases. The first part was written in 17 days when he was in a sort of writing trance on a boat trip from Los Angeles to Hawaï. The second half was written after. I haven’t read the book but it’s a significant piece of information to understand the book.

He gave us a lot of background information about his childhood in Alaska, his family and his personal history because all of this gives us a better understanding of his novels. Again, I won’t retell everything, you can replay this lecture on the Quais du Polar website. It was a fascinating hour with him. He’s an agreeable fellow, he’s been a teacher, so he’s articulate and used to speaking in public too. Plus, he has a great sense of humor. He said he never thinks too much about what he writes and then he comes to France and discusses his books with journalists who ask pointed questions and he has a new view of his work. 🙂 Here, the journalist knew his work very well and was able to fuel the discussion with intelligent questions.

It was a delightful hour where he explained his work, talked about American literary tradition and described how his books are influenced by Greek tragedies. I’m really looking forward to reading Caribou Island.

And that was the end of the festival for me. I had a lot of fun, bought great books, had the chance to chat a bit with some writers and attended great conferences. The literary concert was truly marvelous.

Although they probably won’t read this, I would like to thank the team who organized this festival and all the volunteers who were everywhere to ensure that things run smoothly. I found the writers happy to be in Lyon, smiling and glad to meet their readers and to be part of this giant celebration of crime fiction. Several of them were serial attendees, like Ron Rash (fourth time), Caryl Férey or David Vann. They all seem to enjoy it as much as the public does.

  1. April 2, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    In the last photo, who is the painting of?

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  2. April 3, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    What a stunning venue. I’ve never been to an indoor books festival but if I ever get the opportunity I want it to,be in a setting like this.

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    • April 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      It’s a great festival. More than 100 writers attended. There were a lot of conferences in different places in the city. (the Chamber of Commerce, the City Hall, the Opera, the theatre) All are at walking distance from the main site, the Palais de la Bourse, where the Chamber of Commerce is.
      It’s an opportunity to be in the stunning salons of the City Hall.
      As Marina Sofia mentioned it in her post about the festival, it’s cheaper to come to Lyon than to go to some festival in the UK because all the events are free. You just need to buy a cheap flight ticket and book a hotel.

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      • April 4, 2017 at 10:53 pm

        On day I hope to get to Lyon to see it for myself – I almost went on a business trip but it got cancelled at the last moment!

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        • April 7, 2017 at 9:09 pm

          Let me know if you come to Lyon.

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          • April 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            Absolutely! Would be lovely to meet you

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            • April 8, 2017 at 2:15 pm

              The feeling is mutual.

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  3. April 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    It was so delightful to have your company for those three days, Emma. I look forward to hearing your honest opinion on the books you acquired! I think you have done far more justice to each of the debates than I possibly could, but of course I will write a couple of things about the past weekend as well.

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    • April 3, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      We had a fun weekend, I was happy to see you again. I loved you first post on the festival, I’m waiting for the other ones since we went to separate panels at times.
      I have a good feeling about the books I bought and I’m looking forward to reading the Romanian one. I hope you’ll review the ones you bought at Quais du Polar. I’m extremely curious about the Russian one that they had only in one copy. (Can you tell me the author and title again?)
      I’ve started Comme un blues and so far it’s so good that it’s going to be a “translation tragedy” since it’s not available in English.

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      • April 3, 2017 at 9:34 pm

        I already started the Marcus Malte book on the plane and it really is made to be listened to – so I can imagine the concert! The Russian book is Olga Slavnikova: La Tete Legere in Mirobole.

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        • April 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm

          I’m looking forward to reading the Marcus Malte, especially after seeing the literary concert. I’m sure it will enhance the experience.
          Thanks for the book title.

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  4. April 3, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Not much to say other than that I really enjoyed these posts. It does sound such a great event.

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    • April 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks, Max, I’m glad you enjoyed these billets. It always sounds self-centrered to write about these events but I want memories of these days too.
      I think you’d have a lot of fun. You should come. There are cheap flights from London and after that, attending the events is free. No need to buy tickets.

      I’d love to have a book bloggers meeting at the side. It would be great.

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  5. April 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

    What a great series of posts! It sounds like a wonderful event. We have any number of book “things” in Dublin but I never seem to have (or more accurately: to make) the time to attend.

    I’ve read a couple by Vann (including Caribou Island) and was really impressed. Look forward to seeing what you and Guy make of him.

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    • April 7, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Ian. It always feels self-centered to write about Quais du Polar, so it’s nice to know these billets are interesting enough.
      I’d love to come to Dublin during a literary festival. Must be great.

      Good to know you were impressed by Vann. I have a lot of respect for your literary tastes, so I’m sure he’s good. We’ll see if I like it or not.

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      • April 10, 2017 at 9:04 pm

        Very kind Emma – it’s mutual, as you know. Hope you like it.

        If there’s a criticism of Vann it’s that he writes the same thing over – not a problem for your first, but I’ve held off his most recent on that basis.

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        • April 10, 2017 at 10:47 pm

          I heard that Aquarium is different.

          Plus he said at Quais du Polar that he now has a good relationship with his mother and he feels better.
          A lot of his work comes from his own experience, from what I understood.
          I guess that spending your childhood on an island with less than 2000 people and where it’s only 2 weeks per year and the rest it’s raining and overcast must leave a lasting impression on one’s character.

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  6. April 7, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Hi there! I just came across this post of yours and your blog in general and I couldn’t help but comment and tell you how much I adore your blog and love this post! Keep up the great work, I am going to follow you so I can keep up with all your new posts!

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  1. April 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

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