Friday, October 19, 2018


The Hotel du Lac is not like Hotel du Nord, but both are films. 

from IMDB (1938) "A young couple, Renee and Pierre, take one night a room at the Hotel du Nord, in Paris, near the canal Saint-Martin. They want to die together, but after having shot at Renee, Pierre lacks of courage and ran away. Another customer, Monsieur Edmond, a procurer, rescues her. When Renee goes out of the hospital, she is hired as a waitress at the hotel. Monsieur Edmond falls in love with her, but Renee is still thinking of Pierre ..."

Here's IMDV (1968) on Hotel du Lac"An authoress, whose career is more successful than her private life, arrives at a Swiss hotel and finds her life changing in unexpected ways."  It's an Anita Brooker novel of 184 pages.  Though labeled a lightweight novel, it won the Booker prize.  Specifically, the heroine runs away from one marriage, nearly accepts a new but loveless one, and returns to the old lover.  Maybe the deal is accepting reality, though the hotel is a fabulous castle-like edifice overlooking a lake in Switzerland and the storyline is much less likely than the "Nord" version.

The YouTube categorizer announced about the latter "Recommended for you."  I presume because I'm female, single and a writer.  But they never got around to dealing with how one writes a romance novel.  That person lives an hour's drive north of me and specializes in rodeo/ranch romances.  She also writes a  very funny but rueful humour column about struggling along with weather, animals and budgets.  There's no hotel up that way and when they're in town for a rodeo, their horse trailer has a compartment where they can stay.  I think.  I taught school with her dad in Browning in the Sixties, so you see I AM old.

In "Hotel Du Lac" featured Anna Massey of the pointed chin and enormous eyes and Denholm Elliott, elegant as ever but rather malicious and tricky.  The heroine writes a lot of letters but never any novels.

I suppose the idea is to layer the lives of disappointed women -- sterile, silly, deaf, parasitical.  But I don't know how the heroine is supposed to be different.  She does invest very strongly in an idea that I use: that of the onlooker who watches and transmutes, except that I mostly just watch.  The Cat's Position, I call it. You know how cats are always around and tactfully looking away or keeping their eyes closed.

The idea of the hotel is a promising one.  I had a friend in Seattle who was combining a hotel with the I Ching, each room being one of the short bits of gnomic vignette.

So far mostly I've been doing short bits of memoir.  The hotels in my memories, since they were almost all in the small town West, are almost all shabby old affairs, originally meant to accommodate "drummers" (salesmen) who had territories where they sold their wares.  The aged salesmen sat in the lobby pretending to read newspapers.

There was a bus in those days which was lucky since I didn't have a car nor did I know how to drive.  But I was on a runaway, a great tragic weeping escape from a situation I didn't know how to manage.  It didn't help that I had no idea what I wanted to manage anyway.  I came to all this later than usual and with more exalted goals for my life.  I leaned my head on the cold window and leaked tears while everyone pretended not to notice.

I left the bus in some small town and took my single suitcase to the only hotel.  The broad splintery front porch, empty in the dark, and a brighter lobby where I went to the front desk.  The old men, deep in their overstuffed chairs, stirred, looking forward to something happening.  The desk clerk was entirely tactful and gave me my key gracefully, neither pressing it into my hand nor dangling it.  I think the rent was something like five dollars or less.  There was no bell boy.

The old men's faces followed me like an array of pale moons, not like footlights though it was a overdramatic moment that would have profited from them.

In the room -- sagging bed, faded rug, ratty curtains and rusty sink -- I got into bed like a conscientious child but there were no more tears.  Pulling the sheet up to my chin, I wondered what I was doing.  I'll figure it out in the morning, I thought.  But I didn't.

I just went back to Browning and that's really all there was to it, but it was both a demonstration that I COULD do such a thing and that there was not much use to it.  No one anywhere along the way offered to take me over and make me safe.  Like Hotel du Lac nor Hotel du Nord.

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