How to Behave in a Crowd
The first couple of paragraphs from the book had me choosing this one as my next blog book.
There was a darker brown stain on our brown suede couch. If I swept it one way with the palm of my hand, it almost blended in. I could squint and forget it was even there, but then a swipe in the other direction, and the stain reappeared, darker than I remembered, like I'd...more
I think I have a good sense of humor; those who know me know that I'm really very sarcastic (I often say that sarcasm is my superpower) and I love a good joke, yet for some weird reason movies and books that are supposed to be hysterically or even darkly funny often miss their target with me. In fact, when I see books lauded as funny, I often steer clear of ...more
Anyway....The Mazel family are all highly intelligent....but rather cold....distant....loners for the most part who spend much of their time indoors studying. Even when tragedy strikes, the announcement is monotone....and the immediate reaction (by family members) a non-event, but there is...more
It doesn't ...more
Isidore Mazal (generally called Dory although he prefers Izzie) is the youngest child in a French family of six. His three eldest siblings all complete PhD's in the course of the novel: Berenice is an historian, Aurore a classicist, Leonard a sociologist. Jeremie, still in college, is a musician. Simone, the only one close to his age (in his early teens), fanatically studies literature. And Izzie? Though clearly bright—his narrative voice is consistently engaging—he is no academic ...more
“Because what goes on in your head when you step out of the present is always richer and more satisfying than what you come back to when you’re done. That’s the sad part. That’s what’s at the core of melancholy, not the things you actually imagine. The present is disappointing in a way you can’t act upon while it’s happening. But once you’ve made a memory of something, you can throw away the meaningless parts and write better versions of it.”
Thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a free finished copy of this book for review purposes - all opinions are my own.
NOTE: I'm not providing a summary - Goodreads did a great job of that!
You know how sometimes you just fall into a book and mark almost every single page and feel like this book was written FOR you? That's how I felt with this one. I had zero expectations going into it and was ...more
In this novel, we meet the French family The Mazals, a six sibling unit with a neurotic mother and a distant father who range in age from adult graduate students to the ...more
What initially struck me about this book—and what instantly drew me to it—was Bordas's ability to write observations. Keen, distinctive character observations can ...more
He does not have a plan ...more
I really enjoyed this novel and am excited to get the chance to interview the author. This novel is smart, funny, sad, and tender. There's not a lot to the plot, but the characters are great and everything is pulled together in a really admirable way. I found it brilliant.
My Q&A with Bordas for the Chicago Tribune:
Camille Bordas' first two novels, "Les treize ...more
This book sounded pretentious. And I know one of the characters in this book (Simone) would hate me saying this because I'm not using the word, pretentious, correctly. What I meant is that this book is kind of "showy." The author's diction/writing is as beautiful as the cover of the book. However, at some point in your reading, you ask yourself how an 11 year old boy's voice would sound so eloquent, and how he could also ask the right questions in the perfect moment. The questions a child ...more
The author took special care to create and describe the characters in HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CROWD and one of the joys of the book is finding out that there is more to every character than appears on the surface. Isidore sibling's are ...more
There's no plot, really. It's just the ...more
Isidore, who narrates, is just short of his 12th birthday when the novel begins. His two brothers and two sisters are older. Bordas’s writing is at a strength when writing about the children, there are so many perfectly decent coming of age stories that don’t manage to deal with adolescence in such a convincing way.
There is a refreshing ...more
Bordas explores the ...more
"How to Behave in a Crowd" spoke to me on a spiritual level. Although I'm the oldest and I don't have a ton of siblings, I still found myself identifying with Izzie's journey to understand who he is and where he fits in his crowds. Bordas uses Izzie's story to touch on philosophical ideas like what it means to live a fulfilled life and different aspects of the process of death and grief. I don't think it's written with the typical American sense of ...more
It is easy to make comparisons between this novel and the works of J.D. Salinger. Like Salinger, Bordas writes about the links between intelligence, depression, and family. Both authors have a brilliant mastery of the English language (despite French being Bordas' native tongue.)
However, in my opinion the differences between Bordas and Salinger are just as interesting as the similarities. 'How to Behave in a ...more
The meta-question at its center is one that’s been on my mind, given how apathetic I’ve felt toward many of my recent reads (despite their literary merit): “Isn’t there a way to have it all?... To be, at the same time, intellectually & emotionally involved?”
In other words: can’t I have well-drawn characters, language as craft, *&* ...more
But, although very simple, the writing is not trivial; it is readable and it reflects nicely the thoughts of a boy like Isidore. I think this book works perfectly for fans of The Elegance of the Hedgehog: intelligent kids, domestic life, ...more
I am completely fascinated by Dory. I love his “matter of fact” personality. There is no ...more
En 2009, elle a été remarquée par la critique avec la parution de son premier roman, Les treize desserts, pour lequel elle a reçu la Bourse Thyde Monnier de la SGDL et le Prix du Livre du département du Rhône.