Dining Late with Claude La Badarian
The "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian" serial narrative is a collection of 13 weekly letters written pseudonymously by writer
William Monahanas Claude La Badarian and addressed to various personages, primarily a fictional magazine publisher named Henry, but also Jesus Christ, God, and prominent magazine editors Tina Brownand Graydon Carter. The serial installments were published by Russ Smithof " New York Press" between June and September 2001.
Claude La Badarian is a down-and-out journalist and novelist in
New York City, who blackmails his former publisher, Henry, into financing his proposed dining column titled "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian". La Badarian's debut novel is titled "Second Novel" and throughout the narrative he is working on an ongoing novel titled "Hyperconsciousness: A Memoir", and alternately "The Education of Claude La Badarian".
Drawing on his own experiences as a writer in New York City, William Monahan construes the La Badarian narrative as a satire of his literary career and personal life. Although Monahan's serial is self-satire, Claude La Badarian's adventures are modeled after the adventures detailed in the posthumous memoirs of the early 17th-century French aristocrat Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrésor.
* Claude La Badarian: a journalist and novelist, who, as protagonist, narrates in his weekly letters the trials and tribulations of working in New York City's magazine industry.
* Henry: a magazine publisher, who is often addressed in Claude's letters and has been blackmailed into sending Claude weekly payments of $500, wherever he may be.
* Mei-Mei: Claude's wife, "a very innocent woman with no time for Art".
* Mr. Elmore Chong: Mei-Mei's father and proprietor of the Luau Dragon.Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/27/food/claude.cfm Marital Crisis In Saugerties] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 27 (July 4–10, 2001).]
* Mei's brothers: Two of Mei-Mei's brothers are searching for Claude across
* Luther: A man with a forthcoming memoir possibly detailing how Claude "was once as gay as French springtime".
* The Senator: Claude's late grandfather, who resided at the Vineyard with his wife before he was fatally struck by lightning "19 years ago".Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/31/news&columns/claude.cfm Claude and the Little People] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 31 (August 1–7, 2001).]
* Alfred S. Longwood: A mentally challenged individual whose identity Claude assumes while staying at a hotel in
Northampton, Massachusetts.Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/29/news&columns/claude.cfm Living Independently: A Case of Mistaken Identity] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 29 (July 18–24, 2001).]
June 21, 2001, the alternative weekly "New York Press" published a piece of fiction by Monahan in which a character named Claude La Badarian proposes a column titled "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian" to Henry, a fictional magazine publisher, who agrees to his terms under the threat of blackmail. While described, in form, as a dining column titled "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian", it was, in fact, to be a weekly correspondence from Claude to primarily Henry. In practically all of his letters he signs off as the restaurant critic for "The Aristocrat" magazine. "The Aristocrat" magazine was previously a throw-away witticism in several of Monahan's writings, however, in the La Badarian narrative, it was developed into the fictional magazine for which Claude La Badarian pens his weekly letters, and to the helm of which he facetiously appoints Henry. [Recurrent in several of Monahan's works is the fictional magazine, "The Aristocrat", mentioned off-handedly in 1997 towards the end of the "New York Press" essay "Tinytown: Mr. Rodriguez' Neighborhood", and then again in 2000 in an innovative piece titled "The Virtual Career" published in " Old Crow Review", and also in his first novel "Light House: A Trifle".]
The week after Monahan's fictional proposal, the column officially debuted in the "New York Press" as the "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian" column pseudonymously written by Monahan.cite news |title=The Last Supper: Being eventually a PROPOSAL for a column called "DINING LATE WITH CLAUDE LA BADARIAN, By Claude La Badarian" |author=William Monahan |date=
2001-06-21|work=New York Press |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/25/news&columns/culture.cfm |accessdate=2007-03-06] The comic narrative ran for a total of thirteen columns and made satirical reference to Monahan's literary career, first novel "", and personal life. Aside from the proposal, each column published in the print edition of "New York Press" contained a portrait of the mysterious Claude La Badarian, drawn by Antony Zito, a New York portrait painter and curator, as well as Monahan's former band-mate in the Slags.
The authorship of the "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian" column was a mystery to those readers of "New York Press" who had not read the initial proposal. The occasional reader surmised Monahan was the author, but others were bewildered despite the many clues available in the columns. A few readers thought Claude La Badarian was
Taki Theodoracopulos, a fellow "NYPress" columnist, or at least "a small nod in Taki's direction".Mentions of Claude La Badarian by readers in "New York Press" 'letters column occur first in Volume 14, [http://www.nypress.com/14/27/mail/mail.cfm issue 27] , two weeks after the commencement of the column, and then in issues [http://www.nypress.com/14/31/mail/mail.cfm 31] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/32/mail/mail.cfm 32] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/35/mail/mail.cfm 35] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/37/mail/mail.cfm 37] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/38/mail/mail.cfm 38] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/39/mail/mail.cfm 39] , [http://www.nypress.com/14/40/mail/mail.cfm 40] , and lastly—a plea for a sequel—in [http://www.nypress.com/14/42/mail/mail.cfm issue 42] . The "Dining Late with Claude La Badarian" column ran from issues 25 to 37.] [cite news |title=MAILBOX |date= 2001-08-28|publisher="New York Press", vol. 14, no. 35 |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/35/mail/mail.cfm |accessdate=2007-11-10 ] [cite news |title=MAILBOX |date= 2001-09-25|publisher="New York Press", vol. 14, no. 39 |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/39/mail/mail.cfm |accessdate=2007-11-10 ] In a brief mention of an upcoming book party for "Light House" in New York City, "The New York Post" 'sPage Six gossip column jested that the " [hosts are] hoping Monahan's nemesis, "Aristocrat" magazine scribe Claude La Badarian, who's been baiting him in the "New York Press", doesn't cause a scene". [cite news |title=Page Six: 'Light' fare |author= |date= 2001-08-25|work= The New York Post|url=http://www.pagesix.com/story/light+fare |accessdate=2007-01-15 ] An Amazon.comprofile for Claude La Badarian created in 2001 reveals that La Badarian was a resident of Colebrook, New Hampshireand a fan of the hard rock band The Unband, considering them "the only band worth listening to, globally". [cite web |title=Claude La Badarian's Profile |publisher=Amazon.com |url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/ARKSRFM8H8IJ8 |accessdate=2007-09-10] [cite news |title=Almost Infamous: The Unband/Def Leppard Tour |author=Mike Ruffino |date= 2001-05-15|work=New York Press |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/20/music/feature.cfm |accessdate=2007-09-10] After the column concluded, a reader expressed how he "never enjoyed ["NYPress" 's] memoir columns […] but Claude was different" and esteemed that Claude "left himself room for a sequel". [cite news |title=MAILBOX |date= 2001-10-16|publisher="New York Press", vol. 14, no. 42 |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/42/mail/mail.cfm |accessdate=2007-11-10 ]
Claude La Badarian
The Claude La Badarian character is a journalist and a novelist whose debut-novel is titled "Second Novel" and who is working on an ongoing novel titled "Hyperconsciousness: A Memoir", and alternately "The Education of Claude La Badarian". Occasionally, a fictional Monahan enters the narrative and in one encounter explains his intent to appropriate "Second Novel" as a
working titlefor his next novel "which confronts the 'second novel' issue head-on" as well as to fictionalize "a blackmailed dining column written by a delusional media scumbag"—a subtle reference to Claude La Badarian—as "a small yet integral part of" "Second Novel". [cite news |title=That Asshole, Monahan |author=Claude La Badarian |date= 2001-08-15|work=New York Press |url=http://www.nypress.com/14/33/news&columns/claude.cfm |quote=To my horror, Monahan said that his next plan was to do a blackmailed dining column written by a delusional media scumbag. It would be a small yet integral part of what, with apologies to me, he was calling "Second Novel".] At the conclusion of the serial, the real Monahan went on a joint book tour with fellow novelist Bruno Maddoxfor the paperback release of his first novel "". Shortly afterward he became a working screenwriter and consequently did not follow-up with the alleged second novel. [cite news|title= Standing at the corner of Shakespeare and Scorsese |author=Sam Allis| date= 2006-10-03|work=The Boston Globe |url=http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2006/10/03/standing_at_the_corner_of_shakespeare_and_scorcese/ | accessdate=2007-06-10 |quote=Before the script gods smiled upon him, Monahan had two novels in the drawer.]
Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrésor
There are clues intentionally dropped throughout the La Badarian narrative indicating that the intrigues of Claude La Badarian have been modeled on those of the 17th-century French aristocrat Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrésor; although the reason for this artistic decision remains a mystery, it can be noted that both La Badarian and the Count of Montrésor are scoundrels of the highest order.
A textual clue is dropped in the 8th serial installment of the La Badarian narrative, "Seazed by Hindoos", when Claude references "the guy in "
The Cask of Amontillado" (a short story by Edgar Allan Poe), who, in an exchange, uses a Latin phrase; the person alluded to is Poe's protagonist, Montresor, who says " Nemo me impune lacessit" (often translated as 'No one provokes me with impunity'). [Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/32/news&columns/claude.cfm Seazed by Hindoos] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 32 (August 8–14, 2001).] Poe scholar Richard P. Benton has stated his belief that "Poe's protagonist is an Englished version of the French Montrésor" and has argued forcefully that Poe's model for Montresor "was Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrésor, the seventeenth-century political conspirator in the entourage of King Louis XIII's weak-willed brother, Gaston d'Orléans";cite journal |last=Benton |first=Richard P. |title=Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado': Its Cultural and Historical Backgrounds |journal= Poe Studies|volume=29 |issue=1 |pages=pp. 19–27 |publisher= |date=June 1996] the "noted intriguer and memoir-writer" was first linked to "The Cask of Amontillado" by Poe scholar Burton R. Pollin. [cite book |title=Discoveries in Poe |author=Burton R. Pollin |year=1970 |location= Notre Dame, Indiana|publisher= University of Notre Dame Press|chapter=Notre-Dame de Paris in Two of the Tales |pages=pp. 24–37 ]
A reader of the La Badarian narrative could assume a different origin for the surname La Badarian, such as the ancient Badarian culture which thrived between 4500 and 3250 BCE in pre-dynastic Egypt, however, La Badarian explicitly dispels this possible assumption midway through the narrative, in the 7th serial installment, informing Henry, in a letter, that the La Badarian name was, in fact, mangled at
Ellis Islandand that "the La Badarian gene pool gathers no tributary rivulets from anyplace south of Amiens". In fact, it was at the camp of Amiensin 1636 where the Count of Montrésor, along with Gaston d'Orléans and the Count of Soissons, planned the assassination of Richelieu, which eventually failed.
In the closing column, a fictional Monahan enters the narrative and gives Claude La Badarian the new name of Mr. Packwood, of Montresor Creative Services, Inc., for the purpose of concealing La Badarian's identity from the authorities and explains that the critical word is "Montresor". The intended effect of the revelation would appear to be to reveal Claude La Badarian as a moniker for the Count of Montrésor, a conclusion supported by several other textual clues dropped during the narrative, which point to key moments in the life of the Count of Montrésor. [Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/37/news&columns/claude.cfm The Grapes Of Claude] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 37 (September 12–18, 2001).] The French aristocrat Claude de Bourdeille was similarly to Claude La Badarian on the run from the authorities and lived in exile for a duration; he wrote about these experiences in his "Mémoires", published posthumously in 1663. [fr icon cite book |title=Collection complète des mémoires relatifs à l'histoire de France, depuis le règne de Philippe-Auguste, jusqu'au commencement du dix-septième siècle |author=Monmerqué, L.-J. N. |editor=Petitot, C. B., Petitot, A., Monmerqué, L.-J. N., & Delbare, F.-T.|year=1826 |chapter=Notice sur Montrésor et sur ses mémoires |publisher=Foucault |series=ser. 2 |volume=v. 54 |location=
Paris|pages=pp. 217–234 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=t2ADAAAAYAAJ&printsec=titlepage#PRA1-PA7,M1 ( Google Books)] [fr icon cite book |title=Nouvelle collection des mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de France depuis le XIIIe siècle jusqu'à la fin du XVIIIe : (Volume 25) |author=Aimé Champollion |editor=Jean-Joseph-François Poujoulat, Joseph Fr. Michaud |year=1851 |series=ser. 3 |volume=v. 3 |location= Lyon|publisher=Guyot |chapter=Notice sur Montrésor et Fontrailles |pages=pp. 175–181 |url=http://www.archive.org/details/nouvellecollecti25michuoft ( Internet Archives)] [fr icon cite book |title=Nouvelle collection des mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de France depuis le XIIIe siècle jusqu'à la fin du XVIIIe : (Volume 25) |author=Claude de Bourdeille, Count of Montrésor |editor=Jean-Joseph-François Poujoulat, Joseph Fr. Michaud |year=1851 |series=ser. 3 |volume=v. 3 |location= Lyon|publisher=Guyot |chapter=Mémoires du Comte de Montrésor |pages=pp. 183–241 |url=http://www.archive.org/details/nouvellecollecti25michuoft ( Internet Archives)]
Claude describes himself as a
New Englanderin a letter to Graydon Carter in which he maintains that "the term 'American' is a fiction for simpletons, foreigners and federals", and that "the USA is a lot of countries unnaturally related", and further elaborates:
Claude is a member of the New England civilization. Poor Claude, literate little boy, fond of drawing, diffidence, solitude, beans on toast, "r" unknown in the La Badarian household, never saw himself on tv—not on "Gilligan", not in cowboy films—until he saw
David Hemmingsin the cheapo early-60s seaside musical comedy "Be My Guest". Don't fucking tell me about America. And don't tell me I'm an Anglophileeither or I'll kick your ass.Claude La Badarian. " [http://www.nypress.com/14/36/news&columns/claude.cfm Je Suis Un Genius, Baby] ", "New York Press", vol. 14, no. 36 (September 5–11, 2001).]
personal essayfor "Variety", published in February 2007, Monahan described a childhood experience identical to the above fictional account by the character Claude La Badarian, writing:cite news |title=One flew over the Boston fence |author=William Monahan |date= 2007-02-15|work=Variety |url=http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117959665.html |accessdate=2008-06-20 ] [cite book |title=The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present |author= Phillip Lopate|year=1994 |location=New York |publisher=Anchor Books]
Growing up in
Bostonand environs in the '60s and '70s was very strange, because we, perhaps the primary American civilization, had no representation in art, anywhere. When I was a kid I used to watch television and you'd see an "American" family living in an "American" house having "American" problems, and I'd think, right, but where do they put their books? […] Television and most films, granted, are under no obligation to be a mirror to nature— Sherwood Schwartzwas not required to be Flaubert—but I literally didn't see anyone like myself, or anything like my own environment or condition or family, until I started to read books such as " The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and see movies set in the north of England, which were usually about reassuringly paradoxical people who made terrible, negative decisions.
The majority of Claude's letters are addressed to Henry, a fictional magazine publisher who attended
Brown University; Claude confides many things to Henry. Interestingly, the Count of Montrésor's father is Henri, Count of Bourdeille. [fr icon cite book |title=Collection complète des mémoires relatifs à l'histoire de France, depuis le règne de Philippe-Auguste, jusqu'au commencement du dix-septième siècle |author=Monmerqué, L.-J. N. |editor=Petitot, C. B., Petitot, A., Monmerqué, L.-J. N., & Delbare, F.-T.|year=1826 |chapter=Notice sur Montrésor et sur ses mémoires |publisher=Foucault |series=ser. 2 |volume=v. 54 |location= Paris|pages=p. 217 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=t2ADAAAAYAAJ&printsec=titlepage#PRA1-PA7,M1 ( Google Books)]
Monahan, a long-time fan of
Martin Amis's works, has La Badarian encounter a fictional Monahan in and around Northampton, sort of how the protagonist John Self in Martin Amis's novel "Money" bumps into a fictional Amis in and around London; both fictional characters, John Self and Claude La Badarian, are grotesque, but lovable media scumbags. The Count of Montrésor is a greater, real-life scumbag, involved in several dastardly plots during his lifetime in the 17th century.
The Pat Hobby Stories" are also a similar vein of storytelling in comparison with the La Badarian narrative, chronicling the decline of the fictional screenwriter Pat Hobby's career.
At the time of first publication in 2001, very few people grasped what Monahan was attempting to do with the La Badarian narrative. Aside from reactions from "New York Press" readers in the letters column, there were no critical comments on the narrative. In the following years, Monahan has left textual clues in interviews and essays about his previous writings and a small revival in interest in the narrative has also occurred. [cite news |title=Fiction (With a Twist of Lennon) |author=William Monahan interviews
David Thewlis|date= 2007-10-15|publisher="BlackBook" magazine |url=http://www.blackbookmag.com/features/comments/fiction-with-a-twist-of-lennon1/ |accessdate=2007-10-20] cite news |title=His success story? An epic: 'Kingdom of Heaven' is William Monahan's first produced script, but Ridley Scott, for one, expects more |author=Juan Morales |date= 2005-05-04|work= Los Angeles Times]
List of weekly letters
Claude de Bourdeille, comte de Montrésor, the real-life French aristocrat and Count of Montrésor.
* Does Henry represent Henri Coiffier de Ruzé d'Effiat, Henri de Campion, or Henri II de Guise?
The Pat Hobby Stories"
List of works by William Monahan
References and notes
* Antony Zito. [http://www.zitogallery.com/gallery?g2_itemId=18093 Portrait of Claude La Badarian] for "New York Press", 2001.
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