When I was five, I found my grandparent’s living room in Saint- Bonnet-de-Rochefort in the Allier region an astonishing place, as it was entirely clad in novels. Every single corner was covered with booksso much so that we called it the “book room,” the “paper room,” the “fairy-tale room.” It was the summer, I recall, of the first white lies and unconfessed mishaps, of experiencing the joys and freedom of being initiated into the great realm of storytelling. One morning, scolded for having chocolate all over my face after licking the bottom of the saucepan used for the legendary Exquis de Royat cake, I was summoned to the “fairy-tale room” to explain myself. My grandfather, comfortably seated there in a leather armchair large enough to hold three Tom Thumbs in a row, had reluctantly set down his novel. His scowl deepened and he grew increasingly exasperated with each successive explanation. “The chocolate was hardening, and had to be eaten or would’ve been thrown out?” “Next?” “The saucepan was just about to fall?” “Pretty weak.” “Grandmother said I could?” “You must be joking!” What feat of imagination, pray tell, did I have to conjure up so that his stern eyes would light up and he’d grant me a semblance of forgiveness? Every time he rolled his eyes upward or shrugged in disappointment, I had to find another solution. I tried one-upmanship, hyperbole, wild omission. Armed with dragons and voracious witches, cauldrons and an odd assortment of potions, I learned the virtues of the imagination that day. And if I managed to finagle an explanation that was a far stretch from the truth, I learned a lesson that I still think about to this day. In a time when we swear by the truth, without even questioning it or fathoming that there could be more than one truth, or that it could be fallible or distorted, I sometimes seek solace, I must confess, in a room of paper and books and fairy tales.