Book of the day: Grgoire Bouillier's Report on Myself
Fri Jan 23 2009
Few authors combine blunt despair and hyperkinetic glee as well as the Parisian memoirist Grgoire Bouillier. His latest book to be translated into English, the laconically titled Report on Myself, is a sleek account of the author's life from his birth in Algeria through his twenties in Paris.
The story comes charged with tragedy (Grgoire's only brother dies of AIDS), humiliation (as a youth, he's caught staring at a friend's naked mother) and romantic mishaps (one of his girlfriends leaves him at a caf and doesn't call again for years). He even swaps spit with his sometimes-suicidal mom (Dad's response: "These things happen"). But after pouring this neurotic foundation, and even suffering from a bout of madness, Bouillier manages to build something authentically joyful on top of all the sadness. Full of word games, literary allusions and energetic prose, Report on Myself bristles with a fidgety intelligence that's as infectious as it is coolly eccentric.
A review of Bouillier's The Mystery Guest.
Buy Report on Myself.
An excerpt from Report on Myself, after the jump:
...Or rather, it was The Odyssey that was figuring me out. Because suddenly everything was clarified by its light. Incredible coincidences arose between what I was reading and what I was living, boundares were abolished and I could see between the lines where I myself had gone. Implicit in Ulysses' adventures was the revelation of mine, which weren't identical, but resumptoins. Charybdis and Scylla, the Cattle of the Sun, the Cyclops...in my own way I'd lived all that. I could cite places and dates. Pick up the thread. Weren't the voices that I'd been hearing those of the dead who preoccupy Ulysses once he is in hell? The souls of heroes had sought to recount their stories to me, as well. Does that mean I'd descended into hell? Then The Odyssey was the oracle who informed me of my future...I sometimes had to put the book down to get my breath back.