Seven seconds is how long I have to convince the average reader to not toss my book aside with disgust and a sigh of boredom. If a writer does not capture a reader’s attention within seven seconds (it’s been studied by a panel of scientific experts) then that reader will . . . Hey! Where are you going?! Come back here!!
Dear Patient Readers, I have been working on an itty bitty book about the wonderful flower garden in France that was lovingly designed and tended to by the painter Claude Monet and I’ve given it a rather catchy and sexy title that is sure to grab eyeballs:
Still with me?
My original idea for this illustrated tour of Monet’s garden in Giverny was to keep the book almost wordless, limiting text to one page, and garnishing the rest of the book with three or four quotes from the great Monet himself.
My agent told me that she loved being immersed in the way that I re-created Monet’s world in 65 watercolors, but she wished I would include a few more bons mots from Monsieur Monet. No problem, I said; until I started to dig deeper into the Wit and Wisdom of Claude Monet.
I am an unimaginative, intellectually plodding, highly persnickety Capricorn. That means that I am compulsive about locating all of the stuff that Monet is reported to have said about his flowers and his gardening in the original French, just to make sure that he really said the stuff he is supposed to have said, and that the stuff he really said has been translated by other people the way he really said it.
If only I were a Pisces, I would not be tracking down obscure art journals from 1927 (the fabled July issue of La Revue de l’art ancient et moderne) or wishing evil things unto the authors of the lousy footnotes in most of the best known English language biographies of The Prince of the Impressionists.
I am very nearly finished with my digging — I am still awaiting the arrival of the last book from France that I hope I will have to buy for this project — but I can state with 100% certainty that Monet never said: Yes, I like to run naked through my flower beds at dusk but I keep my boots on because some of those posies have thorns.
To keep my spirits in the spirit of Monet’s garden I have this package of wonderfulness, every day delivering a sweet reminder of the most famous garden in the world:
This desk calendar is a perpetual calendar, delivering one delicious flower from Monet’s garden each day forever. Ariane Cauderlier, the photographer, owns the fabulous L’Hermitage B&B in Giverny:
Ariane knows the Monet gardens — the flower garden and the water garden that includes the famous Japanese bridge and water lilies — as only a daily visitor and next-door neighbor can, and she is authorized by the Foundation Claude Monet to give tours of the gardens, which she does in several languages. You can keep up with all the latest happenings in Monet’s World through Ariane’s beautifully photographed blog here.
Next week I will tell you how to get this calendar for yourself and everyone you know, sent to you straight from Monet’s garden (it’s not sold anywhere but Giverny), but today Ariane has given me some hot hot hot news from Monet’s garden that you will only read about here! On my blog!
Exclusive: Monet’s garden has a new official cat!
The live-in head gardener and his wife are cat lovers, and lucky visitors to the Clos Normand (the flower garden that surrounds Monet’s house) might have, in days past, caught a glimpse of a tuxedo tabby cat sitting in the open upstairs window, or strolling the garden paths once the gates have closed and the tourists are gone. But as we all know, kitties get old and retire to that great lily pond in the sky. But as we feel sad for the old Cat of Giverny, Long Live the New Cat of Giverny!
And here he is:
He is called Nougat.
He is cute! And you’ll only see him here! Ariane says that this is the best photo she’s been able to get because, as you can imagine, he’s a young cat and still familiarizing himself with his estate so he’s much too busy to pose for pictures.
My cats, on the other hand, are never busy, never ever never. And I have to tell you, I’m getting concerned about Lickety. . .
. . . whose sleeping habits have recently revealed a strange change to his personality:
Lickety usually likes to find the fluffiest blankie or pillow in the house and hunker down for ten hours a day. But lately, I’ve found him dozing in spots where I have never before seen him supine, in places where I would not expect to find a comfort-loving cat. Even when I put his favorite towel down in one of his new locations, he refuses to use it:
Then again, what can I expect, when his mother does things like this:
That’s Lickety’s mama, Candy, sleeping on the roof of the shed next to our garage. It’s her preferred napping perch. So it runs in the family.
OK, for my final seven seconds I want to leave you with a recommendation for a good way for you to not waste your precious hours of life when you could be drinking wine by reading something that stinks. I came across an interesting-sounding book via a mention in the New York Times, by an English food writer I have never heard of: Patience Gray. She became a cult figure, according to the Times, in 1986 with the publication of her book called Honey From a Weed. The Times called this book “An artful combination of memories, recipes, and traveler’s tales”. It’s also illustrated. This is right up my alley!
Hoping to steal something good from Patience Gray for my next book [which refuses to write itself, no matter how long I wait and wait], I checked the book out on Amazon.com.
Here is the book’s first sentence:
In the last twenty years I have shared the fortunes of a stone carver and during that time, working in silver and gold, have become a craftsman myself.
I have a hard time understanding this sentence. Not only is it grammatically awkward, it lacks musicality — it’s missing a few syllables in its flow. And — yawn — stone carving and crafting. I think I’m bored already but as this writer and this book come very highly recommended, I soldier on until, five sentences later, I hit this:
The Sculptor’s appetite for marble precipitated us out of modern life into the company of marble artisans and wine-growers in Carrara and into an isolated community of “Bronze Age” farmers on Naxos.
“…precipitated us out of modern life”??
I have already spent a good 20 seconds sussing out this Honey From a Weed (BTW, about the title: Ew) and I regret every nano-second.
Life is short. And wine is long.
So is my hair:
This is me, last week (it’s still pretending it’s Summer out here on Long Island) holding the biggest bunch of celery I have ever seen. I need a haircut.
Have a great weekend, my Dear Readers, and may you find eternity in every moment of your day.