(A Sort of) Tuesday Teaser

cover-of-foreign-tongueEvery once in a while, a section of a book I’m reading stops me in my tracks and makes me take notice. I just had that happen in Foreign Tongue, the debut novel of Vanina Marsot. This novel, which starts with Anna running away from L.A. and her ex-boyfriend Timothy to her second home, which is Paris. In the scene that really caught my eye, Anna and a friend are strolling down the road after Clara has told Anna that she’s holding on to her grief over Timothy and (purposefully) not moving on. In the background, the women watch a group of children playing the French equivalent to Duck, Duck, Goose. When one child starts crying for seemingly no reason, a mother gets involved and here is the quote on page 81 of my Advance Review copy of the novel:

“Claude! Arrête ton cinéma!” Stop your cinema.

I love that expression. The closest equivalent in English is “drama queen,” but it doesn’t quite convey the connection to both film and illusion. Or the futile grandstanding.

I agree with Anna. This is a wonderful expression. So colorful and meaningful. I have zero experience with French, but this really makes me want to dive in and find out what else there is to learn (this book has also taught me some great dirty words, too). I have no earthly idea how to pronounce arrête, but I think I need to find out. I can see so many uses for this – both for my children and for myself. I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times where I’m guilty of some futile grandstanding of my own. Now I just need to find a recording of someone saying this in French and I’ll be in business.

Has it ever seemed like something you’re reading was speaking directly to you?


Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris is due to be published by HarperCollins on April 14.

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  • At 2009.03.17 21:00, Jen Forbus said:

    Hi Jennifer,

    My French is EXTREMELY rusty, but I think it’s pronounced R-E-Tay. I’d double check that, though.

    I completely understand about a book speaking to you, though. Just this weekend I heard Michael Chabon read an essay from his new book MAPS AND LEGENDS. The magic just resonated from his words…his charisma reading helped, too, but I know it would have sounded wonderful regardless!

    Jen Forbus’s last blog post..Dinner with the Authors

    • At 2009.03.17 21:59, Kathy said:

      Arrete is pronounced pretty much the way it’s spelled.

      • At 2009.03.17 22:02, Diane said:

        Arrete is pronounced a-RET (think of the word ‘barrette’).

        Thanks for the sneak peek of this book–it sounds great–I’ll put it on my list. Always looking for a new source for swear words!

        • At 2009.03.18 21:35, Seaside Book Worm said:

          Thanks for the review. I look forward to seeing it at the stores.

          Seaside Book Worm’s last blog post..Patience: My ideal Book Club

          • […] already used “Stop the cinema!” with Allison this week and I suppose the novelty of what I said made her laugh and forget […]

            • At 2009.03.21 16:39, Ladytink_534 said:

              Ooh! I like that! You should go to Yahoo answers and ask for the correct pronounciation (or maybe try to pick up the audiobook?).

              Ladytink_534’s last blog post..Sleuth Nevermore?

              (Required, will not be published)

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