My literary comeback!

The years follow each other… and are not alike, despite the chestnut trees! The notes of my blog follow each other… and are similar insofar as they are thematic, they talk about sex, the evolution of its image in society, the perspective that history and anthropology can allow us to put into perspective and better understand current events and the tremendous progress of our sexual freedoms.

This note follows the previous ones and does not resemble them because today I decided to share with you “my literary return to school”, three favorites on texts from friends, who particularly touched and of which I want to make known the sensible value. These three texts are: Saturn by Sarah Chiche Rumors of America by Alain Mabanckou and Shit by Frederic Arnoux.

Saturn

In the beginning, there is Joseph, a very famous surgeon in Algiers who, once back in France after “the events”, created a prestigious private clinic and, with it, a real empire. He has two sons, including Harry, who finds himself torn between family projections and his passion for books and the very singular Eve. Harry dies tragically in 1977, leaving a fifteen-month-old daughter – the narrator – who, as the years go by, will “inherit” not only a ghost but neuroses of a whole lineage.

This powerful story takes root in Algiers in 1830, the thread then always stretches in Algiers in the 1950s, then in Paris ten years later, following the painful exile of the French from Algeria that the narrator questions through the story of his parents, the very mechanism of autofiction whose reality we have nothing to know. Sarah Chiche’s writing, fluid and sensual, is a long chorus that shares with us the intimate passion of Eve and Harry: “Her dress leaves her shoulders. He carries her to his bed, takes her face between his palms, scrutinizes her gaze, rubs the tip of his nose against hers, kisses her eyes, licks her tongue, sucks her head, sucks her in, and enters her like we jump into a river of fire. The delicacy of the words joins that of the gestures.

Over the pages is written a heady declaration of love: “Eve, you are my only one and I am at your knees. They tell me that I should hate you. But I can only hate anything that isn’t you. I should run away from you. But we do not run away from what we have always been looking for: we throw ourselves into it, as we enter into religion. Joy with you is worth far more than all the wealth in the world. You are great, of a bitter greatness, which ravages everything, destroys everything, but pulls people out of themselves. The funny thing is that you (…) don’t even know it. »

Sarah Chiche uses stylistic finds that cannot leave the reader passive. In this short passage, the apparent multiplicity of narrators plays like so many spotlights on a theater stage: “On December 19, 1975, my parents are getting married in secret. The legend wants that they have the employees of the town hall for only witnesses. In the aftermath, Harry calls his family. Eve is now my wife, she is carrying our child, I will never let you insult her again (…) The photos taken on the occasion of my birth show us all very happy. »

Writer and psychoanalyst, Sarah Chiche is notably the author of The Dark Ones, Price of the Closerie des Lilas 2019, and, in another field, of the very relevant Erotic history of psychoanalysis which I reviewed in 2018. Saturn, which has just won the Roman-News 2020 prize, is in the first selection of the Medici, Femina and Goncourt 2020.

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Rumors of America

The fluid voice of Alain Mabanckou crosses the pages of his new “American notebook” as it enchants his students from UCLA in Los Angeles or all those – I am one of them – who follow his strong reflection to rethink the ” negritude” as a form of humanism, in the wake of Léopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire.

Rumors of America is the extension of this questioning, today, on the place and identity of “displaced Africa”. From the place from which he writes (his balcony in Santa Monica) very naturally emerge whiffs of France and the Congo, which feed his thoughts just as much as America, where he has now lived for almost 15 years: “I do not write not only on my balcony, facing a threadlike palm tree, where every morning, like in my native Congo, a bird comes to wish me good things for the day. Today, I write within the grounds of Biddy Mason Memorial Park. But what is a French-speaking writer? This banal question finds a complex answer when he applies it to his longtime friend, the Danish writer Pia Petersen who publishes her novels directly written in French: “Pia’s literary identity is no less complex: she cannot be considered as a French-speaking writer, a term usually reserved for writers from former territories colonized by France, and who have kept French as their official language. She also cannot be called a Danish writer since none of her books were written or translated into her native language. She is literary stateless and, curiously, none of her works evoke her country of origin. She has developed a kind of rejection of her land, of which the refusal to write in her language is the most palpable proof (…) My conception of Francophonie goes beyond the geographical sphere, and excludes the criterion of colonization for decree its validity when the French language is used as the main mode of expression. Pia is therefore a French writer. »

In this constant shuttle between France, California and the Congo, Mabanckou “rides” us from the Witch’s House, the Witch’s House in Beverly Hills, which reminds him of “the haunted house of Ngolobondo, a town in southern Congo of his childhood” at the Club Med Gym in the Place de la République in Paris, “it is in this room that I happened to train with my friend and colleague, the American writer Douglas Kennedy”, both comparing “the American rooms to those of Paris, less vast, it will not surprise anyone…” Mabanckou finally does a remarkable and tasty description of the identity importance of “appearance” in the Paris of his adolescence where, for those who “descend” from the country, “to become a Sapeur (the one who has “the fever of the habit”) it was above all to get rid of the garb of the country, but also “to wash this incompatible tarred skin”. “It didn’t matter to us that in the United States black Americans proclaimed ‘ Black is Beautiful “. In our alienation as adolescents in search of meaning, we felt that being too dark prevented us from being beautiful. Excessively dark skin soiled the dress, however elegant it might be. Most Parisians were no exception to this bleaching of the skin, while the native Sapeurs rushed to the markets of Pointe-Noire or Brazzaville in search of products to “de-negrate”: Ambi vert, Ambi rouge, Diprosone, Dop, Venus. The intellectual honesty of Alain Mabanckou offers us a pleasure of reading.

Novelist, poet, essayist, Alain Mabanckou received the Prix Renaudot in 2006 for his novel Memory of a porcupine. Professor at the Collège de France in 2016 at the Chair of Artistic Creation, he teaches literature at the University of California in Los Angeles.

My literary comeback

Shit

The language of Frédéric Arnoux has its roots in the slang of a marginality which swarms with surprising neologisms, right from the title: ” Shit “, portmanteau word, very eloquent antinomic union, which clearly says that “ in this shitty world there are still some wonders! » ; or ” ecology picturing by condensation the improbable alliance of nature and business. These words are pebbles strewn between the lines by the narrator to indicate the road to follow: “Where we live is still very close to nothing”, syntax of the economy of meaning which recalls the Garyan language of a Ajar made of condensations and charged with emotion. Shit has a hint of The life ahead : “I woke up on Madame Fofana’s sofa… She was gesticulating in all directions like in the kindling”. It’s the green tongue of a neighborhood, of a culture, the banter of the Kiki gang: “His two fists, that’s all my know-how. Two shooting stars in broad daylight. Not even time to make a wish so fast. Direct uppercut hook, whatever, Kiki is self-taught, he never studied the classics. Right or left, both hurt equally. It’s hard to guess who’s going to take one, it’s random (…) Don’t believe it, when they see us, people don’t start running screaming. Not at all. It happens that some come to plant themselves in front of him, saying they are even going to spend a day there, as well choose the moment (…) In general, those who have already dealt with him gather on the sidewalk opposite to comment on the style . When Kiki applies, they take off their dentures and clap them to applaud. Whether it’s windy, whether it’s raining, hot, cold, nothing stops him. Not even on Christmas Day. »

Arnoux shoves the words in your face, guts you with vengeful formulas but also handles tenderness with his words on edge: “She was there two centimeters from my face. Her mouth, her eyes green like mint Airwick, her perfume all that, my knees were playing castanets. She put her mouth on mine. I held on. I didn’t fall, I didn’t pass out either. I even dared to put my hands on her hips. – Have you ever made love? she asked. I didn’t mean to lie. You don’t lie to your love. I was going to sound like a jerk but too bad. »

A lively and innovative novel. Let yourself be guided to a world lacking in means but rich in meaning and enter the universe of Arnoux made of verbal finds and a transcendental humor which always provides “an emergency exit” for readers in distress.

Frédéric Arnould is the author of Cowboy Light, a bittersweet metaphorical farce that is already taking the “paths of shit”. Shit is his second novel.

Finally, we must recognize that Frédéric Arnoux has a certain talent for communication when considering the major event that was held recently in Paris for the release of Shit.

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Saturn by Sarah Chiche, Le Seuil, 2020; Rumors of America by Alain Mabanckou, Plon 2020; Shit by Frédéric Arnoux, Editions Jou, 2020; The Dark Ones by Sarah Chiche, Le Seuil, 2019; An Erotic History of Psychoanalysis by Sarah Chiche, Payot and Shores, 2018; Cowboy Light by Frédéric Arnoux, Buchet-Chastel, 2017.

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My literary comeback!


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