Work in Progress: L’Amerique, Chapter 7

The following passage is an example of some of the work that we’ve been doing on Thierry Sagnier’s upcoming bestseller, L’Amerique. 

neonaifpainting

We’re re-writing the entire novel from the point of view of ten-year-old Jeanot. Here are some before and after shots of the chapter:

Original Passage:

Marité was a painter. She’d dabbled in other media, had written and published a well-selling children’s book, and played both the piano and accordion passably. Ever since the end of the war and her return to Paris with Roland, she had been sketching scenes, largely from old family photographs. She wanted the time to paint a dozen or so oils before she and Roland opened Créations St. Paul, the dressmaking shop made possible by a reluctant loan from Léopold.

Her true skill was oil on canvas in a style a writer for Les Beaux Arts de Paris had called neo-naïf. She painted scenes from the Belle Époque; extended and inbred bourgeois families posing at relaxed attention in pastel dresses and suits before country home porticoes, or sitting by azure lakes drinking champagne from crystal flutes and eating pâté on toasted squares of brioche. She painted society weddings with uniformed Swiss Guards bearing ceremonial halberds, street scenes of unrivaled innocence, and horse-drawn carriages with smiling drivers. The grayness of daily life never intruded in her works. Soldiers went unwounded, horses never dropped steaming piles of dung, aging dowagers retained their youths, and street urchins’ cheeks radiated health and well-being.

She painted without perspective—humans rarely varied in height and sometimes were outsize standing next to their horses, or small when with their dogs. Jeanot concluded that in the Old Days most people were short and owned ponies and Great Danes. When he asked Marité about that at the dining table one night, she got mad but his father laughed so hard red wine came out of his nose.

Edited Passage:

Maman was a painter. She’d dabbled in other media, had written and published a children’s book, and played both the piano and accordion.Jeanot maintained a small resentment when it came to the book, since it had been written specifically about and for his two sisters. He was waiting for his Maman to announce that there was another book written, one dealing with the adventures of Jeanot. He had been waiting a couple of years and come to the conclusion that writing a book might be very time consuming.

Maman’s paintings were drawn largely from old family photographs. She wanted to paint a dozen or so oils before she and Papa opened Créations St. Paul, the dressmaking shop made possible by a loan from Grand-père.

She painted colorful, confusing scenes; people in wedding clothes, surrounded by beaming armed Swiss guards. Jeanot had asked why guards were needed at weddings, and had gotten back a nonsensical, unsatisfactory answer that involved the Pope. Maman’s paintings reminded him of the contes de fees that Jeanot knew he should have outgrown years ago; there were flowers in full bloom and beautiful if slightly too-small horses, who never pooped, pulling carriages of happy people. Everything Maman painted, in fact, was happy. There were never any old people, never anyone who was sick or injured. The soldiers never bled, or fought, which was jarring, though not really unpleasant. Maman told Jeanot that the style in which she painted was called neo-naif

He had noted early that her people varied in height and sometimes were outsize standing next to their horses, or small when with their dogs. Jeanot concluded that in the Old Days most people were short and owned ponies and Great Danes. When he asked Maman about that at the dining table one night, she got mad but his father laughed so hard red wine came out of his nose.

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