Home > About reading, Crime Fiction, Personal Posts, Polar > Quais du Polar Day 2: James Sallis, Michael Connelly, Ron Rash and others

Quais du Polar Day 2: James Sallis, Michael Connelly, Ron Rash and others

You will probably never guess it from my billets about Quais du Polar but this year, the focus is on Nordic crime fiction. Lots of writers from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark are invited to the festival. Since I’m not a great reader of Nordic fiction I chose to attend other events.

Sorry if anyone expected billets about Nordic fiction. 🙂 You can always listen to the conferences on replay here. But let me share with you my second day at Quais du Polar.

My first panel featured Ron Rash, Colin Niel, Ingrid Astier and Monica Kristensen. The theme was Great landscapes and Noir fiction. It echoes to the conference I recently attended about Nature Writing. We were in the room Tony Garnier at the Palais de la Bourse.

Ron Rash writes novels set in the Appalaches and nature is an important part of his protagonists’ way of life. Colin Niel writes crime fiction novels set in French Guyana. You can find my billets about his books here and here. He used to work there as a environment engineer and contributed to the creation of a national park.

Ingrid Astier wrote a surf novel set in Tahiti, French Polynesia. She spent a few months there, to understand the land and talk to the natives of the area. Her book focuses on a special and very dangerous wave that surfers want to ride in Tahiti.

Monica Kristensen is a scientist, a climatologist and the first woman to have led an expedition to the South Pole. She writes crime fiction novels set in the North Pole in Norway.

What I enjoyed about the panel was the good interactions between the writers or how they bounced on each other’s ideas. They listened to each other and even if each of them told stories related to their books and their specific natural environment, they managed to find common points between the issues described. One of the issues is how to combine human activities that ensure that the populations living there can work and make a decent living and protect the environment. Tourism is not always a good solution. They pointed out how our relationship with nature is different according to who we are. Colin Niel said that hiking in the Amazonian forest with soldiers is not the same as hiking there with natives.

They seem to have a common goal with their books: give a voice to the local populations, make their voices heard. And you should have heard Monica Kristensen talking about polar bears! I would have loved to hear her trade bear stories with Craig Johnson.

A very interesting moment with these four authors.

The second event I chose was a mix between jazz and literature. It was set in the Opera of Lyon and James Sallis and Michael Connelly talked about jazz and their literature. Here’s a picture of the premises, for you to have a feel of the jazz club atmosphere.

A quartet played songs between bits of conversation between the two guests, artfully guided by a journalist. It was a wonderful moment, good music and also a great conversation between two writers who truthfully enjoy jazz.

Sallis is actually a specialist and he has written books about jazz music. They made the link between jazz and their work, how it influences their style. Sallis made interesting comments about the music we had just listened to and the process of writing. He pointed out the lead of the song and its patterns and how the quartet improvised from it and came back to the lead and pattern. He said that writing a book was a bit like that. The writer has a lead, he pokes around this idea, plays with it and comes back to it. They have pattern in their writing. He said that music helps him get in the right zone for writing, in the state of mind that will engender his literature. Fascinating stuff.

The third event was a panel with Ron Rash, James Sallis and Chris Offutt about the “Great American Noir novel”, at the Chapelle de la Trinité. Gorgeous place, isn’t it?

They connected well, interacting cleverly, answering the questions of the journalist. They seemed happy to be there, discussing their working habits. Rash and Offutt both write books set in the Appalaches, where they come from. They evoked the nature there and the culture of the inhabitants. Both say that they keep writing about the same place, hoping that if they dig far enough, they’ll reach the universal and be relevant to readers coming from different backgrounds. Sallis has moved a lot in his life and he said that writing about a place was a way for him to absorb the place, to understand it and get to know it deeply.

The three of them have a close relationship with nature and want to stress on the importance of the natural environment on the men who are settled there. Nature influences people’s way of life and their culture, whether they are conscious about that or not. It was a lively conversation with writers who were willing to share, to give us clues about their writing.

I had a lovely time listening to these great writers. I’ve never read Chris Offutt but since he’s published by Gallmeister, I’m sure I’ll like him.

What I love about Quais du Polar is that the writers are not on an obvious promotion tour. Of course, they may be invited to talk about their last book and they sell and sign books. But they are also invited to discuss themes that are in line with their work but not always direct promotion. It avoids readymade comments about their book to questions journalists ask over and over again. They have to play another partition, they have a chance to chat with likeminded writers and that makes it more enjoyable to the public.

Book haul of the day:

A whodunnit in the Proust world written by an academic specialized in Proust. It was wrapped in a nice tote bag designed by the publisher Viviane Hamy. I’m sure cat lovers who will read this post will appreciate it.

Day 3 will be about criminology and about translations.

  1. Marina Sofia
    March 31, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Would have loved to see Sallis talk about jazz… And I remember Ron Rash from 2017, absolutely delightful. What great panels you attended, thanks for keeping us informed.

    Like

    • April 1, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      I wish I could have attended this with you. We had a lot of fun the other times.

      I really enjoy the music/literature events.

      Like

  2. Dotti Willis
    April 1, 2019 at 3:32 am

    I probably would have zoned out in those gorgeous rooms and missed the talks and conversations! Glad to have your comments.

    Like

    • April 1, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Welcome to Book Around the Corner and thank you for commenting.

      I’m used to the rooms, the one at the City Hall is even more gorgeous. It’s part of the charm of this festival: you get to see these wonderful buildings and everything is distant by foot. It’s great.

      Like

  3. April 3, 2019 at 2:43 am

    I think it can be very interstsing when you get several writers interacting like that instead of just talking solo.

    Like

    • April 6, 2019 at 8:25 am

      It is very interesting and they were really listening to each other and engaged in the conversation. The panels were well-done with writers whose work had some similarities.
      It cuts the one to one relationship between the writer and the journalist and it broadens the discussion.

      Like

  4. April 3, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Le quai du Polar a l’air passionant, dommage que je sois trop loin pour y aller. Merci pour tes retours.

    Like

    • April 6, 2019 at 8:27 am

      C’est vraiment un événement génial, pour la littérature mais aussi pour tout le reste autour.

      J’ai croisé des personnes qui venaient de Bordeaux pour les trois jours, qui n’étaient jamais venues à Lyon et qui ont découvert la ville en faisant l’enquête policière organisée par Quais du Polar. Elles avaient l’air ravies de leur weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. April 9, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    That is a very, very nice tote bag.

    Like

    • April 10, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      I’m surprised you’re the only one to comment on that. I thought there were so many cat lovers among bloggers!

      Like

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