Dreams From My Grandfather

My grandfather was born a poor peasant in the south of France in 1906.

His father had been working very hard and was considering acquiring a farm for himself when WWI started, crushing any hope of betterment for the family.

While keeping goats my grandfather realized his future was bleak; and although he enjoyed farming very much, he understood he would never escape poverty by walking in his father's steps.

He decided he'd better go to school. Before he was seven, he had never heard or uttered a word of French: everyone spoke patois, a local dialect that sounds like Spanish. After years and years of dedicated study, he became agrégé de Lettres classiques (certified professor of French, Latin and ancient Greek).

He then worked as a teacher, and after WWII (where he participated in the Résistance, for which he received the Légion d'honneur) forayed into politics, became député (member of Congress) and stayed mayor of his town for over 30 years.

Despite these accomplishments, at the end of his life he was rather bitter and considered himself something of a loser; he had wanted to change the world, and hadn't.

From Pessoulens to Seattle

He missed his childhood, not only the moment when he had taken control of his destiny, but life in general, as it was then: tending cattle, listening at night to the same great tales from the elders, being in direct contact with nature.

At the request of his son (my father) he wrote a detailed account of his childhood: Une riche vie de pauvre ("a poor man's rich life"). It's a wonderful story of the "coming of age" genre, that I first read when I was twelve. I've read it many times since and it never quite gets old: it's full of incredible characters that one is always pleased to meet again.

Ten years ago, I published it on paper, and it enjoyed a moderate success.

But a month ago, I published it on Kindle and hope it will find a greater public that way.

It's in French of course, so you need to read French to enjoy it; but while it's not by any means a children's book, it's written in a clear and plain language that should be pretty accessible.

Whether it sells or not, I find it quite moving that this story about the people of Pessoulens in the beginning of the 20th century is now available on one of the most advanced reading devices of today.

Check it out! Une riche vie de pauvre, Kindle edition.

People die but stories don't.

Wed, 28 Sep 2011 • permalink