A loving autobiography, a Shakespearian tribute and three pockets … The literary choices of the Express.
A certain Paul Darrigrand
By Philippe Besson. Julliard, 222 p., 19 €.
The rating of L'Express: 17/20
In 2017, with Stop with your lies, his 18th novel, Philippe Besson jumped the autobiographical step, evoking his adolescence and his homosexuality in the France of the 1980s. 140 000 copies sold and a macronienne incartade (A novel character) later on, he is back in the intimate vein with the story of the great love of his 21 years.
His name is Paul (in the novel), he has a dark, untenable look, a charming smile, curly hair, round shoulders and … a wife. In this year 1988, the narrator is pursuing a DESS in labor law in Bordeaux, a thinning in the life of the adolescent reluctant to myopic glasses after deadly studies in a Rouen business school. It is there that he meets the beautiful Paul, whose body is sculpted by surfing. It will be necessary for him to wait for Christmas holidays between friends on the island of Ré so that the conflagration arises …
And to live a passion in hiding, submission ("And I, I obey him, shabby puppet whose son he pulls"), guilt, because, devious or unconscious, history to assess the forces involved, Paul him meets his wife, Isabelle, a cheerful and energetic nurse. But none of this can remove Philip from his love affair. So, as one of her friends had warned, the narrator "morfle", especially since he suddenly has a worrying symptom in these AIDS years: the drop in his platelet count. After a battery of exams, the verdict falls. This is a very serious thrombocytopenia. The shock treatments succeed one another, without success, until the ablation of the spleen, which delivers the evil but gratifies a beautiful scar, and the loss of Paul, who eventually enters the straight rank. Without complacency or self-pity, Philippe Besson delighted with this lucid and sincere exposure of a young man under control. He delivers, as a bonus, the manufacturing secrets of some of his fictions (A boy from Italy, his brother, from there we see the sea) nourished by his own transposed memories. A true character of a novel, too, this Besson. Mr. P.
By Tracy Chevalier, trad. of English (United States) by David Fauquemberg. Phoebus, 224 p., 19 €.
The rating of L'Express: 16/20
Code name: "The Hogarth Shakespeare Project." Nothing to do with an operation at the John Le Carré. The initiative comes from the publishing house Hogarth, which has asked authors to adapt a novel Shakespeare play, in a space-time of their choice. Like Jeanette Winterson, Howard Jacobson, Gillian Flynn, Margaret Atwood, or Jo Nesbo, Tracy Chevalier jumped into the water. His target? Othello, the Moorish king, transformed into a schoolboy in a bourgeois suburb of Washington in the 1970s.
Everything happens, or almost, in the school yard, less than twenty-four hours. Units of place and time. Aged about 11 years, children alternate jumping rope (for girls) and American football (for boys), not to mention their very first games of seduction. When Osei, son of a Ghanaian diplomat, arrives, fifteen days before the end of the school year, the novel takes off. He is the first black man in the establishment, and languages are loosened, tinged with a hint of racism.
Only Dee, a pretty girl with well-behaved braids, dares to approach Osei, to become her chaperone and her … in love. To the chagrin of Ian, the cador of CM2, who makes order in "his" court, abuses the little ones and manages to seduce Mimi, the great friend of Dee. The tension rises, the Shakespearian characters – Osei (Othello), Ian (Iago), Dee (Desdemona), Mimi (Emilia) – sharpen, anxiety pierces. As usual, the American with millions of copies of The girl with pearl (1999) refines the details. Everything is screaming with truth in the description of attitudes, fierce or naive, schoolchildren, as in the painting of sclerotic America of the time. To have teenagers meditate. Mr. P.
What normal people do
By Hartley Lin, trad. from English (Canada) by Nora Bouazzouni. Dargaud, 144 p., 18 €.
The rating of L'Express: 17/20
"The normal people" of this great cartoon, signed by the Canadian Hartley Lin, are those of a big law firm across the Atlantic. The young Frances Scarland has just been hired as a legal assistant. Serious, efficient, involved, discreet, she impresses with her skills and attracts the good graces of her manager, the satrapical director of the bankruptcy department, Marcel Castonguay. But every morning she will work with the ball in the stomach after sleepless nights. Afraid of not being up, disappointing, failing. Fear of being fired like so many other "juniors" or old ones who are not popular anymore. From "anxiety attacks" to extended hours, from meetings to urgently close files, Frances wondered: did she choose the right path?
Nothing to do with his roommate, Vickie, apprentice actress, a girl who takes "all lightly", returns at no time, stuffed – by the window because she forgot her keys. When the title role of a television series is proposed, Vickie moves to Los Angeles. And discover in turn behind the scenes, a binding daily punctuated by constant filming. "I do not have much social life," she tells her dear "Franny" on the phone, "I thought Hollywood would have a dark and mysterious side, that I'd live in a David Lynch movie …" In fact, I work, I eat healthy and I sleep. " As accomplices as different, the two friends comfort each other and seek together to make sense of their lives.
Embracing brilliantly in the clear line, Hartley Lin's dynamic graphics effectively serve a very controlled scenario. A contemporary history that unashamedly describes a world of inhuman business, where everyone is in the hot seat, where employees are corvable at thank you, where you lose your life to win. "It's a nice life, wants to convince Frances, I should consider myself happy, work harder, I should." The humor and the tenderness are not left in this album which also questions the passage to the adulthood, its renunciations, its compromises. First published as a soap opera by the American magazine Pope Hats, he reads as one looks at a series. D. P.
By Jean-Baptiste Andréa. Folio, 224 p., € 7.40.
The rating of L'Express: xx / 20
Here is a beautiful interlude, which was a double blow, in 2017, winning the prize of the first novel and the Femina high school students. The credit goes, undoubtedly, to the young narrator, naive and weird, who flees, one night in the summer of 1965, the family service station of the Provençal valley of the Asse, for fear of being sent to a specialized establishment . Go to the plateau on the mountain, where Viviane appears, the one who will become her queen. A new life begins in the country of Giono, while the author unfolds masterfully this subtle parable on otherness and normality. Mr. P.
A long impatience
By Gaëlle Josse. I read, 192 p., 6,90 €.
The rating of L'Express: 18/20
Since that fateful day of 1950, Louis, 16, has disappeared from his village of Brittany. Did not show up at school, left no message. "His absence is my only certainty," reports his mother, Anne, the narrator of this beautiful novel in the form of a long monologue. Overwhelmed by an abyssal sorrow, she seeks the causes of this fugue that questions her remarriage after the death of Louis' father. And feeds the hope of seeing him again by sending him letters detailing the king's feast she is preparing for her return. But the wait lasts … Beyond the tragedy, a shocking portrait of a woman, generous and proud, takes shape. D. P.
The Woman at the window
By A. J. Finn, trans. of English (United States) by Isabelle Maillet. Pocket, 608 p., € 8.60.
The rating of L'Express: 16/20
The title of this very successful psychological thriller announces the color: a tribute to Window on courtyard and the repertoire of the film noir, whose heroine, Anna Fox, 38, is unconditional. From there to taking for James Stewart and to believe himself a witness of a murder at the neighbors, that she observes daily … A step quickly crossed by this child psychiatrist agoraphobic, depressive, addicted to the drugs and bottles of Merlot, which However, it is difficult to convince the police. Anna would she have lost her mind? It's hard to let go of such a thriller, a frightening closed door, whose end-cap surprises you so much and more. D. P.