Amanda's Reviews > The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches

The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches by Gaétan Soucy
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Feb 13, 08

bookshelves: really-great-books, fiction, from-the-mouths-of-babes
Read in February, 2008

Wow. I hardly know what to say after having finished this book. I am shaken.

Reading this book was sort of like having bandages removed from your eyes, layer by layer.

Things become lighter and lighter, clearer and clearer, and you are excited by the anticipation of the possibilities of the world you will behold once your vision is completely unobstructed.

And then the picture begins to emerge, and there you are, drowning in burning, blinding light, raw and unprotected.

Part of you wishes you could unread what you have read, unknow what you now know and go back to letting the flitting beauty of the skillfully naive language wash over you unenlightened, "My feet move lightly, following the example of the birds that take their flight around my body, that are the colour of my eyes, for all the birds waltz with me, that's my secret, even those at the other end of the earth. I've often dreamed of being able to dance on the summits of pine trees the way elves do, as warm and light as candle flames, sheaves of powdered gold would tumble from my hands to spangle the countryside with stars...."

The hidden brutality of this book is what makes it so incredible.

It begins with this Wittgenstein quote, "The experience of feeling pain is not that a person 'I' has something. I distinguish an intensity, a location, etc in the pain, but not an owner. What sort of a thing would a pain be that no one has? Pain belonging to no one at all? Pain is represented as something we can perceive in the sense in which we perceive a matchbox."

And I guess, in a sense, it ends with it too.



I think it is probably an incredible feat of translation. (My edition was translated by Sheila Fischman in 2000.) The language is so dense and relies heavily on wordplay, which comes off perfectly in English. All of the puns in the original French must be completely different. It would be interesting to compare them.
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Lily Great review. Totally agree with the light and bandages part.


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