Boris Vian discussion

Introduction to Boris Vian (by his Publisher)

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message 1: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
The first two books one should buy by Boris Vian are:

1) I Spit on Your Graves

2) Foam of the Daze or Autumn in Peking

The books listed as No. 2 is in my mind are his masterpieces. No 1, "I Spit on Your Graves" has a fascinating history, yet it's really a dark book. Somewhere between Faulkner and Jonathan Swift.

Vian is sort of a combination of glue and magnet that drew all sorts of talent to Paris during the post-war years. We're talking about Juliette Gréco, Jean Cocteau, Duke Ellington, Henri Salvador, Serge Gainsbourg, Miles Davis, Raymond Queneau and of course Simone and her boyfriend Jean Paul Sartre.

message 2: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Caroline (thebookdr) so- which of #'s options should we start with?

message 3: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
So far, I think for this particular group maybe No. 2. "I Spit on Your Graves is extremely sexual in questionable terms. It's one nasty book. Very Noir! Very insane!

"Foam of the Daze" and "Autumn in Peking" are kind of romantic in an anti-romantic way. It's fantasy but with bitterness. Yet hysterical (at least to me). World wise, Foam of the Daze is the popular Vian title. But I am such a mega-fan of his, I love all his work. I have a serious Vian collection in my office.

What I am going to do is reprint my press releases on each book - and we will go from there.

message 4: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
I have a couple of film clips of Vian on my website:

One is an interview with him in English. He's hysterical. The other film clip is a short documentary on Vian in Japanese. I like to keep an international perspective on things...

message 5: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
Boris Vian was also very much involved in music - both as a songwriter, jazz player, and singer. He wrote over 300 songs. In fact he pretty much stopped writng novels by 1950 - and after that focused on music making.

message 6: by Adam (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Adam | 5 comments I started with Foam of the daze(or Froth on a Daydream or some variation)...I think its a great intro..beautiful happy tone that tricks you into the darker more surreal elements. Then I read Heartsnatcher next which is super dark...good book but probably not for neophytes..after that either Blues for the Black Cat(short stories) and Autumn in Peking(tied with Foam for my favorite). Anyone looking for a newer author who will remind them of Vian I would recommend Rhys Hughes and Steve Aylett..they share the same comic tone, love of puns, word games, anger, satire, and underlying darkness.

message 7: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
I have heard of Aylett but never read his works. And Hughes doesn't ring a bell. Is he an American writer?

message 8: by Adam (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Adam | 5 comments Rhys Hughes is Welsh...his most available books are Nowhere near Milkwood and New Universal History of Infamy(a sequel of sorts to the Borges)...his stuff is kind of hard to find.

message 9: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
When I look at my Goodreads menu for 'my groups,' and I see that no one has made any comments on my beloved Boris Vian list for seven days - I want to cry. So I am writing this so I can at least wake up tomorrow morning and it will say "6 hours ago."

message 10: by Kimley (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:28PM) (new)

Kimley | 11 comments Tosh, when the new Vian book comes out there will definitely be a lot of chat here I'm sure. We should read it as a group!

In the meantime, maybe we should read one of the other books as a group. I think there are several Vian neophytes here and I'm sure those of us who have already read the books wouldn't mind rereading and/or discussing them.

message 11: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:28PM) (new)

Caroline (thebookdr) tosh- don't be sad! we still love vian. i am just focusing all of my energy on halloween and the first day of nanowrimo. perhaps i will channel vian for my novel. i can only hope...

message 12: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

brian   Cal: i assume you don't speak french and that if you do speak french, you don't have a copy of Foam in the original. i also assume you don't have another english translation of Foam... so, when you write that the 'translation is excellent', how do you know? i've always wondered about this... in this particular case, through tosh and paul, i happen to know the scoop, but hypothetcially, how do you know that the translator is a better prose stylist than vian and you are reading paul's words rather than vian's?

i read this a lot - 'the translation is great' - and wonder how one can determine this if they've never read the original? as this applies to my current reading of War and Peace by volokhonsky, i can only go by what i've heard from Russian speakers who have read the book and also by how much i prefer her dostoyevsky over garnett's - and even in that case i cannot truly know (other than what i've heard and/or read) that volokhonsky's is more true to tolstoy...

or am i reading too much into your statement and it's simply flattery to the publisher and a synonomous phrase to 'the prose if vibrant'?

sorry if this question is somewhat muddled, i'm recovering from a bad halloween hangover...

message 13: by Aberjhani (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Aberjhani | 1 comments Hello Everybody--

I just joined this group and would like to thank you Tosh for hosting the forum. Ironically enough, I just learned about it but two days ago recommended a Vian title to another GoodReads member.

It was my good fortune to pick up Vian's Blues for a Black Catmostly out of curiosity during my last week as a bookstore manager some years back. I got hooked and ordered I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVES and BORIS VIAN TRANSATLANTIC. For some reason I ended up with 2 copis of the latter.

Anyway, I write quite a few book reviews and it's long been my intention to pick up the newest editions of Vian's novels and write about them so I'm glad to see people discussing his work here. I'm off now to check out those film clips on your web site.


message 14: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
Blues for a Black Cat is a fantastic book. For those who don't know, it is a collection of short stories by Vian. The one about the soldier I think is a classic.

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