Saturday, 26 March 2016


He saw her just once, and then he was off to war.

Truffaut is full of stories. You can cut a two-minute episode out of his film and get yourself a perfect short story. Or even a novel. Jules et Jim is one such film. It contains a short story that is a beautiful tragedy worth telling.

You could call it 'Letters'.

It involves a man writing letters to a girl he only saw once. It's the First World War and these letters are the only way he can communicate with her. Very tentative at first; all he can say is that he enjoyed her company. She replies. He says he likes her. She replies. Gradually he becomes more forward. Suddenly his letters are a lot more intimate. At some point he writes about her breasts and how it feels touching them. He then kisses her whole body. He then proposes to her. In his letters he now treats her as his bride. He sometimes gets cross because he feels she did something wrong or else her reply was vague and cold. Then one day there's a vicious attack from Germans, and he dies.

This is classic Truffaut. It's over in a flash, but it's that perfect combination of provocative and sweet, sentimental and perverted that makes him so good. For me, it's one of the greatest stories never written, and it's the sign of a true master when all you can get is the slightest glimpse.

'A cosmic rhythm with each stroke'. 

Vijay Iyer's new record is indeed called A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke. Which would be a title unbearably pretentious were it a rock singer or a pop band. As it is, you give in to the subtle interplay between the piano and the trumpet filling your head with otherworldly stories you've never heard before.