И, в общем, довольно неплохие. Отмечу здесь, чтобы не забыть.
"A Year In The Merde"
Название издевательски отсылает к книгам типа Питера Мейла "Год в Провансе". "Merde" - в это на улицах Парижа регулярно вляпывается англичанин, прибывший работать по контракту с французской компанией.
Книжка начинается эпиграфом из "Трое в лодке" и по стилю очень напоминает Джерома, тот же художественный прием.
Но тема другая: культурные различия англичан и французов. "The human comedy à la française" как написал один рецензент, очень верно.
"My good friend Chris told me not to come to France. Great lifestyle, he said, great food, and totally un-politically correct women with great underwear. But, he warned me, the French are hell to live with. He worked in the London office of a French bank for three years.
"They made all us Brits redundant the day after the French football team got knocked out of the World Cup. No way was that a coincidence," he told me.
His theory was that the French are like the woman scorned. Back in 1940 they tried to tell us they loved us, but we just laughed at their accents and their big-nosed General de Gaulle, and ever since we've done nothing but poison them with our disgusting food and try to wipe the French language off the face of the Earth. That's why they built
refugee camps yards from the Eurotunnel entrance and refuse to eat our beef years after it was declared safe. It's
permanent payback time, he said. Don't go there.
Sorry, I told him, I've got to go and check out that underwear.
Normally, I suppose you would be heading for disaster if the main motivation for your job mobility was the local
lingerie, but my one-year contract started very promisingly."
И так далее, все 95 страниц. Смешно, практически каждое предложение - кандидат в цитаты. И фабула присутствует, не просто набор заметок, а развивающийся сюжет. Но местами очень цинично, для меня слишком, особенно об отношениях полов.
Вот некоторые запомнившиеся фразы. Намеренно не цитирую длинные куски, самодостаточные анекдоты.
"I'd asked for a cafe au lait and been served the combined annual production of Colombia's coffee fields and the dairy herds of Normandy. I looked at the bill - wow, the price included first-class rail fare for the cows."
"I did my best to mime an exchange of conversation lessons with a gesture that turned out a bit more gynaecological than I'd intended."
"We left the building at 12.30 with "bon appétit" ringing in our ears. The people who saw us called it out like you
would say "Happy Christmas". Every lunchtime, it seemed, was a celebration."
"All I had to do was take my passport, work contract, three passport photos, a recent electricity bill and marriage certificates of any hamsters I'd owned since 1995,all photocopied on to medieval parchment. No problème." (Это на тему бюрократии, история о получении разрешения на работу).
И горько, о том же: "There's no room for human rights in a government waiting room."
"I could see the headlines: Englishman deported for mild sexual harassment of French civil servant. "Britain must
leave the European Union," demands President Chirac, "we French are the ones who sexually harass people, not
you." (Неудачно пошутил с чиновницей).
"On a scale of one to ten, this particular merde was an eleven."
"It is not an apartment," I said. "It is a storage cupboard for Toblerone."
"A certificate in the lid of the box announced that Monsieur Jean-Marie Martin had been elected a "Chevalier de la culture bovine".
I asked Jean-Marie what "Chevalier de la culture bovine" meant exactly.
"Knight of beef culture."
"Beef culture?" So he'd been knighted for services to cow cinema?"
"I just followed the others' example and squeezed some lemon juice into the open shells (the oysters were still alive, and flinched) before
tipping the contents down my throat.
It was not unpleasant. A bit like swallowing lemony, salty bronchial mucus."
"to avoid letting your thoughts dwell too much on arson or axe attacks, you start looking for a weekend maison"
"he was used to playing in a world-class league of double-dealers" (О французском боссе).
"Dave's groan of desire told us all we needed to know about Sandrine."
"There is a class of tourists who never seem to see the things they're visiting. They prefer to look at directions to the next place they're not going to look at."
"President Mitterrand, for example, gained maximum posthumous respect after his illegitimate daughter attended his funeral. A French politician without a mistress is like a sheriff without a gun - people think he has no firepower."
Очень остро, местами почти зло.
И умеет точно подобрать слово даже в проходной фразе:
""Yes, it is like you Ingleesh you put oronge joo-eece in shompagne," Stéphanie said. "Merde alors." The others winced in sympathy at this desecration of their national treasure ."
"I ventured further into the linguistic wilderness ."
В французском переводе книгу политкорректно назвали "God Save La France" и на русский название перевели уже с французского :)