Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In the end, after all: Suicide by Edouard Levé

                "Suicide calculated in advance, I thought, no spontaneous act of desperation"

The secret of this calculation and the auratic horror of the act sets narrative in motion, in the mind and on the page.
One Saturday in the month of August, you leave your home wearing your tennis gear, accompanied by your wife. In the middle of the garden you point out to her that you've forgotten your racket in the house. You go back to look for it, but instead of making your way toward the cupboard in the entryway where you normally keep it, you head down into the basement.
Eduoard Levé's Suicide begins with a description of the subject's act, unforgettable for its nonchalance, and continues with evidence of what may or may not be its calculation: the subject's taste for the unknown, for taking the elevator up but never down, for dead authors still in print, for reading a dictionary like a novel, for collecting unusual names.
During the week you sometimes thought it was Sunday. You didn't like to travel. You rarely went abroad. You would spend your time in your bedroom. It seemed useless to you to travel for miles in order to stay in a place less comfortable than your own. To think up imaginary holidays was enough for you. [trans. Jan Steyn]
Such apparently random facts occurring to the narrator begin to cohere into a story, and, in the end, after 118 pages, a book.  

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