Juste une fable n° 2
belinda had written a children's book and turned it into a movie, which she then presented in a lecture. she had also rented a room, right next to us, and i don't know whether our room was rented or whether it was something we owned. whatever the case, we were together, as ever, my love.
but there was a conflict because you wanted me to come and see the presentation of belinda's children's book and you thought that it was good. so i did. but i was horrified when i saw it because what it consisted of was a framing of fragments: faces, bricks, bunnies - that could somehow make up people, houses, easter - and then a metamorphosis montage showing how these things can ultimately turn into each other, flow in and out of each other, so that everything that the child can see is part of the material world.
concretely, this meant that there were good lessons for children, such as how to duck when bricks are being thrown into a house. but it also had nightmarish scenes, such as the children themselves dissolving into bunnies. and i wanted no part of that. i really didn't approve.
i was so horrified that my emotions got the better of me. i cried and gasped and left the room, which was very awkward since belinda would certainly care what i thought about what she had done, as i too cared about teaching the truth to children. and i was the only person present who had also an interest, experience in writing children's books.
but as a writer, i was so immature. i just went back to our room and crawled into bed and sulked and cried waiting for you. you were tender and understanding as usual, but you made it clear, without even telling me, that i couldn't leave things like that with belinda and the group. i had to go next door and apologize to her for my outburst, show belinda at least that my problems with her book were not a judgment of her approach to children or to literature, but were connected to my own extreme sensitivity when it comes to films.
i saw that there was some truth in this whole perspective so i picked myself up, found some old clothes that would still fit from my fatter days back in my thirties: a long red men's flannel or corduroy shirt and some sloppy jeans. then i went moseying down the hall to knock on belinda's door.
she greeted me with a professional warmth - there is such a thing. i said i was sorry, that i had been really stressed out, but that i wanted now really to have a chance to read her book. she brought out the huge mock-up text that had been used to make the movie; it looked like a supersized-format comic book, and i did everything i could to look at it critically and find that it was good.
i couldn't concentrate, but my effort alone was enough. things were smoothed over between us; her son came into the picture and we greeted each other at the very moment when i realized she was showing yet another movie in the back of her apartment, which turned out to be way bigger than i thought. i saw that other neighbors were also calling on her, coming to watch the movie, and perhaps wish each other a happy passover or a happy easter. this gave me a chance to get back to my own family, far away, in arizona, of course.
Mary Shaw est professeure de littérature française des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles à l'Université de Rutgers (New Jersey). Outre ses travaux universitaires, elle a publié deux livres pour enfants ainsi qu'un recueil de poésie intitulé Album Without Pictures (2008).