July 08, 2023
Source: Bigstock GSTAAD– There are lurid rumors flowing around this alpine village that a worldwide literature symposium has occurred, with a few of the richest and more recent arrivals requiring the arch suspect behind the supposed outrage to deny it or else. “State it ain’t so, Joe,” shrieked a club freak to the suspect right on Main Street. The suspect’s name, by the way, takes place to be Thomas Gommes.
Now, I am the first to confess that reading can be an unsafe waste of time, specifically when there are excellent mind-expanding shows to see on large and small screens such as Batman, The Masked Marvel, Godzilla vs. King Kong, and other likewise spiritually uplifting topics. Be that as it may, a literature seminar did accompany the support of many individuals who live here, its prime mover and organizer being the abovementioned Thomas Gommes.
And it had to do with time, too! We’ve had a conference on how to make more cash, and an even more popular one on how to live much longer if you’re rich. (Covered by your brave reporter last winter.) A literature seminar is simply what the medical professional ordered for the citizens of a resort known for really costly chalets, much nouveaux glitz, and excessive après-skiing. Mind you, book shops are as unusual around here as Fabergé eggs remain in downtown Mogadishu, however never mind. The locals are not exactly inclined to purchasing books, just as the visitors aren’t either, with only 2 bookstores– funded by a pharmaceutical heiress, Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, likewise a symposium sponsor– in the whole valley, consisting of the villages of Saanen, Rougemont, Schonried, Gstaad, and Gsteig.
“A literature symposium is just what the physician ordered for the residents of a resort understood for really costly chalets, much nouveaux glitz, and too much après-skiing.”
Like most good ideas, WOW (World of Words) began with a bang. Giuliano Da Empoli is an Italian-Swiss writer, a boy of a lot of talents, numerous books, and so many awards, he needs to have been prohibited from a resort for the out of work rich. His very first book, Le Mage du Kremlin, will soon be translated into English, and I’m reading it in French. It’s a grand book of Russia today. During his conversation with French novelist Francois-Henri Deserable, one that was light and wonderful with none of that bogus severity female Brit and American novelists placed on, I did not have a possibility to ask him of the similarities of the Russo-Ukraine war to the Americano-Iraqi dispute. As we all understand, America attacked its neighbor Iraq in 2003, Iraq being situated between North and South Carolina, whereas when Russia attacked, the Ukraine was a far country separated by an ocean.
Never mind. Next came my friend Jay McInerney on the role and factors for fiction. Jay ended up being a star with his first book, Bright Lights, Big City, forty years earlier and coined the phrase “Bolivian marching powder.” He’s written twelve books and many short stories since then, and he’s still an extremely bad boy– in the best sense, that is. I took him to lunch the next day and we spoke about Papa Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald, our heroes. We concurred that the most heartbreaking closing scene ever is Penis Diver turning all of a sudden and blessing the beach in Cannes. That’s in Tender Is the Night. The very best opening paragraph ever remains in Papa’s A Farewell to Arms.
Kyra Troubetzkoy’s 6th book is The Paper Trap, and Alexandra and I utilized to be great good friends with her mother, Sophie, who unfortunately dedicated suicide very young. Noble Russians tend to do that, especially when out of Russia like the Troubetzkoys were. There were many other writers, all of them talented, all of them young, and it made Gstaad feel various for a number of days.
Let’s face it: There is nothing as pleasing as reading terrific prose except possibly sex, and there’s nothing like the taut, understated writing of Hemingway. Does the creative variety of today’s writing appear restricted? It does to me. Today’s authors typically explain men as dopey and devastating, whereas females are smart but thwarted. Yet long ago Papa’s and Scott’s heroines ran rings around the guys, however they were subtle about it: Nicole, Rosemary, Brett Ashley, and so on.
Nah, Hemingway’s best work is deeply moving and rich in meaning and psychological complexity, and he reinvented American prose and the short story. Needless to state, what I enjoy so much about him is the epic persona as a hard-drinking, hardworking outdoorsman and woman-chasing lecher. The latter was a posture, as Hemingway took marriage seriously. Papa’s competitiveness and belief in himself did not stop him from recognizing Fitzgerald’s talents. Here’s Papa writing to Scott after the latter’s disappointing reviews on his master opus Tender Is the Night: “You, who can compose much better than any person can, who are so poor with talent that you have to– the hell with it. Scott for God’s sake compose and compose really no matter who or what it harms …” Papa might be tough on authors: “Zola and Hugo were both lousy authors however great males … Flaubert is a terrific author but only composed one excellent book, as is Stendahl, an excellent author with one great book.”
Have I gone on too long about Papa? The response is one can never ever go on excessive about him– nor Mozart, for that matter. I began the Gstaad Symposium 25 years ago and led off with historian Alistair Horne and followed up with the Great Maggie Thatcher. Then I took my eye off the ball and the thing deteriorated. With WOW, people who understand how to read might even begin coming to Gstaad.