Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Town Called Taziac

There’s a drinking song at the start of Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffman that’s hard to forget. It’s about a dwarf with a hump, and a nose that’s coal black…
            “Et ses jambes, ses jambes faisaient clic clac! clic clac! clic clac!
            Voilà, voilà Kleinzach!”
            A catchy name.  Reminding me of the first time I drove through the Dordogne where it seemed all the picturesque villages and towns had a similar “ac” suffix. (Kevin Elstob, in his blog, describes this linguistic curiosity of the region as an echo "of the Roman presence in that part of the world.") There was Ribérac, Plazac, Montbazillac, Fanlac, Saussignac, Tourtoirac, Montignac, Issigeac, Beynac, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Bergerac, and many more. W.S. Gilbert  would have loved that trip. The countryside looked and smelled good too. Lush fields of wild flowers, daffodils, sunflowers.
            The Dordogne River has such an elegant curving stately sweep that it was hard not to be attracted to the region, its castles, and the history that has grown up around them. Later, when I began to write The Paris Directive, I decided to call the village in my novel Taziac. Like so many of the towns mentioned above, I imagined Taziac as still showing signs of its medieval past. The remaining cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, the towered chateaux, and an open market place behind the Gothic church in the main square. A perfect Eden in which to relax and heal urban wounds, sharp words, the tedium of the every day. In short, a vacation paradise for the foreign visitors who will arrive soon after the curtain goes up in The Paris Directive.

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