I read four stories – in a mix of French and English. The first, a sparse little Robbe-Grillet, astonished me because, typically dry in English, it was absolutely sparkling in the French. Well…, maybe that’s the wrong word, but it had a resonance – so that I could see suddenly why he is so well-regarded. The quality, the *tone* of his prose doesn’t transfer into English… but oh! it's there in the French.
The second story was by Marcel Jouhandeau. It was delightfully naturalistic – until the last paragraph, at which point I realized that I had no frikkin' idea at all what this story was about. It was short, though.
“Le Cheval Troyen”, by Raymond Queneau, was about a talking horse – in a bar. Mr. Ed… well, that’s a dumb comment. But the story seemed pretty dumb.
Finally, the longest piece I read, was Phillipe Sollers’ “Le Défi”. This one, written when he was only 21 or 22, really grabbed me --. Sollers, the husband of Julia Kristeva, and the chief force behind Tel Quels, was also the French translator of Finnegan’s Wake… man, he can write…
“Nous restions silencieux et la mer, sur le sable, respirait à notre place…
The Penguin Parallel Text French Short Stories I, is edited by Pamela Lyon. Volume II is edited by Simon Lee
I am only planning to read the opening story:
Robbe-Grillet, "The Beach", ("La Plage"), pp. 11-24
Foucault was a big fan of Robbe-Grillet, as was Roland Barthes, whose famous essay on R.-G. is printed in this volume: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55480.Jealousy_In_the_Labyrinth
James Miller discusses the group around Tel Quels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Quel), including Julia Kristeva, who eventually married Phillipe Sollers.
Vol. I contains a story by Sollers, titled "The Challenge" ("Le Défi"), pp. 216-265. Maybe I will try that one as well.
There are also stories here by by Marcel Aymé, Jean Ferry, Henri Thomas, Jouhandeau, Queneau ("The Trojan Horse"), Pierre Gascar - most of whom I've never heard of. Vol. II has a story from Blaise Cendrars ("The Unknown Saint").