"Bonjou, Tristesse" or "Hello, Sadness",is not as sad or depressing as the title suggests.There's no debate whether you should I slash your wrists or"Bonjou, Tristesse" or "Hello, Sadness", is not as sad or depressing as the title suggests. There's no debate whether you should I slash your wrists or put a bullet in your cranium. Nothing like that. It's French riviera, adultery, streaming sun and first kisses. All followed by a cynical, but necessary in my opinion, ending.
The book is mighty short mind you, and the writing surprisingly mature. Sagan was 18 this was published, did you know? I didn't (not until I was done with the book).
In all my ignorance, I was under the impression that this was written by an old Nabokov like creep. The lovely detailed descriptions of Côte d'Azur (I almost felt sand in my hair and sun on my face as I read it, and it's snowing over here now), the acute portrayal of a 17yo spoiled girl (in this aspect, I believe Sagan's age was mightily helpful), the in depth analysis of peoples motives and behaviors - that's what must have led me astray. The tantrums, the hatred, the constant scheming, the egoism, the lies, the father worship, the adultery, the avoidance - it was all pointing out to a well aged male writer, not to a young debutante. And the writing was superb, did I mention it yet? Well, ok, dialogs excluded, those felt tad unnatural and lengthy, in my experience simple constructs and short sentences work best in speech, but I'm prepared to blame the nameless translator for that. When in doubt always blame the translator. That's my rule.
Apart from the exquisite imagery, the main strength of Bonjou, Tristesse is the seventeen-year-old Cécile. She considers herself superior, sophisticated and oh so mature. Which, of course, entitles her to meddling in other people's affairs, taking lovers (twice her age would be most appropriate) if only she wishes, and disregarding any advise. Cécile is snooty, temperamental and a typical teenager. But most importantly so much more real that the idolized Bella (for those of you who are keeping up with the Twilight extravaganza).
So why the so-so rating, would you ask. Well, first of all, it's not my favorite book. Tad snooty and never too cheerful with that inherently French ideas of love and adultery, it was hard for me to like. Besiedes, I appreciated what it stood for, I appreciated the talent behind it, but I enjoyed only parts of it. Yet, even though I did not quite love it, I would still recommend it to those with a preference for literary fiction - it's a nice French gem (an overnight sensation back when it was first published) that should not be forgotten. ...more
My Japanese friend, 30-ish, former competitive cross-country skier*, now a sushi-man working in Poland, moved all the way from the other side of the wMy Japanese friend, 30-ish, former competitive cross-country skier*, now a sushi-man working in Poland, moved all the way from the other side of the world to Warsaw, just to make sushi for local yuppies. Can you imagine? In order to escape Tokio's corporate nightmare, he swapped continents, traded cultures, left his family behind and moved to this obscure little country called Poland. I mean I like it here, but it's not the most foreigner friendly place. Especially not if you are a slender Japanese dude with long silky hair and a cute pudgely face.
Just to give you an example, this friend of mine gets giggled at by teenage girls just because of his androgynous fashion choices and petite builds, I'm guessing he confuses the shit out of them, but come on, grow the hell up girls. Then he gets mean stares from clerks because his Polish doesn't live up to their snooty standards. Oh and he gets hit on while in clubs by hoards of horny women who want to satisfy the itch for something exotic. Just to be even, he gets hit on in clubs by horny men too**, again I think it's all about the curiosity and the exotics. All that is minor annoyances, the most worrisome is that my friend gets looked down by his coworkers. Even though he's the most involved of all the business partners, had invested the most $$ and is the only one among the bunch with the intricate knowledge of sushi making, he is treated as someone less worthy. Nothing better than racist colleagues, is there? People sometimes suck.
And if you put all that crap he's dealing with on top of the regular ex-pat maladies (homesickness, scarcity of home food, cultural misunderstandings, etc), it can really get nasty. So it made me wonder***, for him to put up with this crap every single day, how bad the typical Japanese workplace can be? How awful Tokyo's corporate overlords? To my understanding my friend was just a regular guy, living normal life - no Yakuza, no kink.
Amélie Nothomb gives some answers to that, she did the opposite of my Japanese friend has done. She left her native Belgium to live and work in one of Tokyo's major corporations. From her book you get a taste of what work in such an environment is like, what's expected from a newbie and why some might find daunting. The book's funny (I got quite a few laughs), lyrical at times (much appreciated melancholic descriptions from time to time, and well crafted description at that) and a little... fake.
Nothomb lies her ass of. That's her writing style. Most of it is exaggeration and fact twisting, I'm sure it's done for comical relief and to prove a point, but still, to me that to a degree undermines the credibility of her story. In short, if you can live with shameless exaggeration, you'll enjoy the book. Otherwise - prepare yourself for a whole lot of teeth grinding.
___________________ * He was serious about it: medals, international competitions, crazy training sessions... ** Some of it is due to confusion with his sex (he blames his haircut), some of it isn't. *** We're finally getting into the proper review part of this review...more
Death, sex and despair - that's what Bataille deals in, and Blue of Noon is no exception. The narrative follows Troppman, a deviant drunk who struggleDeath, sex and despair - that's what Bataille deals in, and Blue of Noon is no exception. The narrative follows Troppman, a deviant drunk who struggles to decide whether or not he should lead a productive, respectable life, or embrace decadence in all its depraved ugliness. Not that he suppresses much of his twisted desires to start with; right from the beginning there are the consciousness altering substances, the prostitutes, the violence. Troppman enjoys his savage lack of inhibitions and enjoys Lazare (while also being disgusted by her). He is codependent on Dirty, the stunning train wreck of a woman. His bawdy drunkenness suits him well. But does it, really? I couldn't shake the feeling that Troppman's colorful life will inevitably end in disaster....
Story of the Eye, Bataille's best-known work, is an unrealistic, symbolic adventure, Blue of Noon is overdrawn and hyper-realistic. Definitely exaggerated, but on some level also believable, and since it reeks of death, dissipation and despair, since the characters despise each other, Blue of Noon makes for a daunting read. The atmosphere of pre-Nazi Paris and later Spanish civil war, instead of simply enriching the story, creates a sense of unease. And even though there's some sad beauty in characters' rampant debauchery (or not, let's face it it's vile), there's also the tedious, unmemorable narrative to be concerned about. The filth and depravity I find mighty shocking and fun to read about, but no matter how filthy and how dirty the story, rambling plot doesn't make for a great novel. So this isn't a great novel, merely a good one, and still worthwhile in my opinion. After all, nobody writes about unhealthy obsessions the way our fellow madman Bataille does....more
Sick, disgusting and kinky but never boring. It certainly makes an impression. But if it were to be any longer I would start chucking off the stars. LSick, disgusting and kinky but never boring. It certainly makes an impression. But if it were to be any longer I would start chucking off the stars. Lucky for Mr. Bataille that he kept the story short and writing up to standards. I'm sure if you try hard you could find some social commentary in there and a few metaphors, but it takes an effort to look beyond all the fetish and gore. Besides lewdness itself makes a point here....more