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Lie With Me

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The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald.

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

149 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2017

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About the author

Philippe Besson

49 books706 followers
In 1999, Besson, who was a jurist at that time, was inspired to write his first novel, In the Absence of Men, while reading some accounts of ex-servicemen of the First World War. The novel won the Emmanuel-Roblès prize.

L'Arrière-saison, published in 2002, won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire 2003. Un garçon d'Italie was nominated for the Goncourt and the Médicis prizes.

Seeing that his works aroused so much interest, Philippe Besson then decided to dedicate himself exclusively to his writing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,955 reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
February 20, 2019
"This feeling of love, it transports me, it makes me happy. But it also consumes me and makes me miserable, the way all impossible loves are miserable."

Philippe is a famous writer being interviewed at a hotel in Bordeaux when he sees a handsome man walk by. The man jars Philippe's memory, reminding him of his first love, when he was in his last year of high school in 1984.

Philippe is the studious one, shy yet fiercely intelligent. He has already been marked by his peers as "different"; he bears their shouted and whispered insults, and wants nothing more than to blend in. Thomas is quiet, rarely speaks yet is often spoken to, and is popular among his peers. He is handsome, so he catches the attention of many of the female students.

The two have never spoken, yet Philippe is inexplicably drawn to Thomas. He watches him, observes him, but doesn't think Thomas notices him (or even knows who he is), and Philippe is unsure of how he feels about that fact. Does he want Thomas to know what their peers think of him, the names they've called him?

One day, Thomas approaches Philippe. He fears that Thomas might have seen him staring, might want to beat him up. But instead, Thomas asks if he might want to go to lunch in town instead of eat in the school lunchroom. He agrees, but doesn't understand what Thomas wants from him. During lunch, Thomas tells him he is struggling with his sexuality, and he can no longer fight these feelings in silence.

When Philippe asks why Thomas has chosen him, he replies, "Because you are not like all the others, because I don't see anyone but you and you don't even realize it."

The two quickly fall into a secret relationship—mostly sexual, although there certainly are overtones of romance. Outside of their encounters, they pretend not to know each other, and make no move to declare their feelings for one another. Inherently, Thomas knows that when high school is done, Philippe will leave their small French town to make his way in the world, leaving Thomas behind. And despite the intensity of their unspoken feelings, both know that this is their trajectory.

Can we ever forget the raw emotions, the intensity, the longing of our first true love? How does that relationship affect the rest of our lives? In Lie with Me , Philippe Besson poignantly captures those feelings, the way every fiber of your being is affected, the way you want nothing more than that person and cannot bear the thought of being apart. And how you mourn the end of that relationship, how it feels like no pain you've ever experienced, so much more than your heart can bear.

Besson and Molly Ringwald, who translated the novel from the French, paint a beautiful, emotional picture of a man who has made something of his life as was always expected, but when he is reminded of his first love, reminisces about that glorious yet painful time, and how indelibly their lives have changed in the years since.

Lie with Me has been called "the French Brokeback Mountain ," and while there are no cowboys, and this book didn't quite make me sob the way that movie did, there is a tremendous amount of poignancy, emotion, and beauty to be had in this story. Ringwald's translation felt flawless to me—quite often when I read translated novels I find some awkwardness in the syntax or the way some expressions are relayed.

"That singular moment. The pure urgency of it. There were circumstances—a series of coincidences and simultaneous desire. There was something in the atmosphere, something in the time and place, that brought us together."

What a gorgeous, moving book this was.

NetGalley and Scribner provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

To be published April 30, 2019.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
August 24, 2019
An unforgettable, exquisite and powerful award winning French novel by Philippe Besson, translated by the famous actress, Molly Ringwald, that reads and feels like the most intimate of memoirs. For such a short novel, it is achingly beautiful, lyrical, and intensely heartbreaking, a portrayal of the emotional, heady feelings of first love. A fragile, forbidden, repressed covert gay relationship set in the 1980s in a rural small town in France. Philippe is having a tough time in high school for being smart and perceived as effeminate, and drawn towards the more popular Thomas Andrieu, a farmer's boy with his future life mapped out in front of him. He has little idea that Thomas feels the same way about him until the two have lunch and embark on a sex driven affair that will haunt and have everlasting repercussions.

Philippe and Thomas are under no illusions, they both know right from the very start that their relationship is temporary and will not endure, but this in itself lends a passion, poignancy and urgency to their love. Years later, in the present, Philippe is a well known writer, who encounters a young man that inescapably reminds him of his first love, Thomas's son, Lucas, from whom he learns of Thomas's life after school and his family. This is a painfully tragic, profoundly moving and eloquently expressed story of hatred, thwarted love, loss, homophobia, regrets, masculinity, memory and class that will stay with you long after you have finished reading the last page. Highly recommended big time! Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
743 reviews11.8k followers
February 4, 2022
The stories of young star-crossed lovers have sustained popular literature for centuries, speaking to the heart and pushing all the right buttons. And yet something about this acclaimed story rang false and left me a bit unsatisfied.

You see, it quickly veers into the predictable melodrama, preparing for the gut punch ending from the get-go and yet becoming a bit trite and formulaic. Had it been a movie, it would have had the requisite monochrome soulgazing to tinkly music, complete with wistful voiceover.

This is a story of a doomed love affair between two adolescent boys in the mid-1980s France, one of whom is determined to keep it secret and the other one … well, he’s destined to become a writer and don’t you ever dare forget it (I swear, it feels like the narrator needs to bring up that he is a writer on every other page, ad nauseum, lest we forget). We know from the beginning that the two boys part ways, and the story itself begins as one of them — the writer — runs into the son of his erstwhile lover and learns the tragic story of the man who had left him in his youth.

And then he gets his long-awaited closure — in the written form, no less.

You see, this is the book that ultimately rests on the feeling of closure, on validation, on affirming the great human fallacy — the desire to matter, to be vindicated, to get the answers we crave for that inner peace. After all, losing a great love of your impressionable youth without as much as a goodbye is hard, it eats at you, it brings up all the what-ifs and may-have-beens.
And so this book becomes that closure that we want, the closure that confirms that - yes - you mattered, that - yes - it was all ultimately revolving around you, that - yes - your choices were true and special and right, that - yes - you weren’t the only one still reeling from the long-lost love, that - yes - it was all reciprocated and real and validated.

The neat closure to show that the impact from the secret affair reverberated through both men’s lives, and that the one who cruelly left realized his mistake in not staying true to himself, and that the young love remained in his heart, and that denying your desires leads you to solitude and unhappiness, yadda yadda yadda. It’s an unsubtle moral lesson without taking into much consideration the societal and family and religious and responsibility pressures that led to Thomas’ choices - and all those had plenty of room for subtlety.

And this is a disservice to Thomas’ character, reducing him to a road not taken, a character in a conventional melodrama, with a quick tearjerker ending on a letter that admits the ultimate guilt of self-deception, with the intention of making the reader wistfully sigh about the fallacy of such choices in the silent stoic tragedy of Thomas’ life — all that added too many visible marionette strings to the story that otherwise could have been touching in its eternal simplicity, told in a bit of a monotone (author’s or translator’s — I don’t know and can’t really judge as I don’t speak French).

It’s not a bad book — but it’s also a book that does not add anything new to the story it tells, resting heavily on the final letter of confession and validation, stating yet again that repressing your nature is unhealthy and rife with consequences — and unfortunately little else. Had it been just a short story consisting only of the first part — that of the boys’ adolescence — it would have been stronger and sweeter, more impactful and much less unnecessarily melodramatic.

3 stars. Middle-of-the-pack serviceable story, but ultimately easily forgettable.


Oh, and while I’m at it, let me get these off my chest:

(1) “Back then there were no cell phones, so I had to call him at his house.” Who is this story told to — future generations? I trust we all know about the lack of cell phones in the mid-80s, without the need for explanation.

(2) “His was the first male sex I held in my hand, other than my own.” I don’t know if that’s the writer’s fault or the translator’s — but does anyone else loathe the “sex” euphemism for genitalia? Every time you call a penis “male sex”, a cute fluffy kitten dies a gruesome death somewhere.

(3) “Carnivorous kisses.” I refer you to the placenta cook book after this expression.

Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Sahil Javed.
258 reviews244 followers
May 11, 2021
Lie With Me is a tender, beautiful novel, written by French author Philippe Besson and translated by Molly Ringwald, that follows the relationship that develops between two teenage boys in 1984 France.
“The image doesn’t fit: my thick glasses, my stretched-out blue Nordic sweater, the student head slaps, the too-good grades, the feminine gestures. Why me?

He says: Because you are not like all the others, because I don’t see anyone but you and you don’t even realize it. He adds this phrase, which for me is unforgettable: Because you will leave and we will stay."

There's something about books written retrospectively that just call out to me. There’s a sense of nostalgia trapped within the narrative, that’s almost always tinged with a sense of melancholy. Lie With Me was exactly like that. The story opens in 2007, with Philippe, a successful author, being interviewed on the release of his latest book. As the interview progresses, Philippe notices a young man exiting the hotel his interview takes place in, a man that bears a striking resemblance to someone from his past. It’s then that the story goes back to 20 years earlier, where an 18 year old Philippe develops a secret relationship with another boy in his final year of high school – Thomas.
“We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.”

The story that's told in this book isn’t that long. The actual novel is only 150 pages, but it packs such a powerful and emotional punch. The narrator, Philippe, felt so familiar to me that at times it felt like I was reading about myself because I saw so many aspects of my personality in his character. This meant that I related to him massively, which also meant that I knew I was going to love this book from the start. As the story explores Thomas and Philippe’s relationship, you already know that it doesn’t end well because that’s the sense you get when a story is told retrospectively. Like, these events have already happened but yet you still want the characters to have a happy ending and in this case, I desperately wanted Thomas and Philippe to be together. But what makes this novel incredible is that so many important themes are explored such as identity, and life in a small town, the differences between people and how sometimes those differences can change the trajectory of your life, the bravery it takes to proudly be yourself, and how sometimes it’s really difficult to summon that bravery when you’ve been repressing your identity for so long.
“He says I’m a boy of books, from somewhere else. This is important: he sees me in a certain way, a way he will never deviate from. In the end, love was only possible because he saw me not as who I was, but as the person I would become.”

This book made me cry ugly tears, because Philippe Besson really takes you on a journey. Now, I don’t know just how much of this book is fiction and how much may have been taken from the author’s own personal life, because the novel itself is dedicated to ‘Thomas Andrieu’ and the main character is also called Philippe. But I don’t think that’s important. What’s important is the journey the characters go on, the relationship that develops between them, and what this relationship tells each of the characters about themselves. But, most importantly, the reason I loved this novel so much is because of what it told me about myself. I felt like I took away so much from this book. It made me cry so much, but it also touched me in a way where I’m still thinking about it now, weeks after I’ve read it.
“Everything is in its place, everything reassures me. Except that I miss Thomas. I miss him terribly. And that changes everything. Have you noticed how the most beautiful landscapes lose their brilliance as soon as our thoughts prevent us from seeing them properly?”

The writing in this book was absolutely beautiful and poetic, so much so that I can’t even begin to imagine just how beautiful this novel must be in French, as that’s how it was first written. Like I said previously, I’m really drawn to books that are written retrospectively, where characters reflect on their lives and the circumstances that have lead them to where they are when we meet them in the novel. And the author perfectly weaves that sense of nostalgia within his own writing, and it’s so vivid that I can feel like radiating off the words and enveloping me as I read it. This book is only 150 pages, but each of the words that have been used felt so deliberate and precise. How is it that a book can be so small yet touch you in the biggest ways?
“This feeling of love, it transports me, it makes me happy. At the same time, it consumes me and makes me miserable, the way all impossible loves are miserable.”

Overall, Lie With Me was a delicately beautiful book about identity and love, but the kind of love that attaches itself to your soul and stays with you, that made me cry but also filled me with a tender appreciation for life. If Philippe Besson is capable of destroying me with a 150 page book, I’m a little scared to read anything else by him. I hope his other books are translated or I might just have to learn French and read them all. It’s the least I could do to have the chance to experience something this beautiful again.
“I know you would have liked for things to be different, for me to say the words that would have reassured you, but I could not, and I never knew how to talk anyway. In the end, I tell myself that you understood. It was love, of course. And tomorrow, there will be a great emptiness. But we could not continue – you have your life waiting for you, and I will never change. I just wanted to write to tell you that I have been happy during these months together, that I have never been so happy, and that I already know I will never be so happy again.”

There were so many more quotes that I adored that I wanted to include in my review so I’ve left them here:
“I’m seventeen years old. I don’t know then that one day I won’t be seventeen. I don’t know that youth doesn't last, that it’s only a moment, and then it disappears and by the time you finally realize it, it’s too late. It’s finished, vanished, lost.”

“I think I love him for this loneliness, that it’s what pushed me toward him. I love his aloofness, his disengagement with the outside world. Such singularity moves me.”

“I discover that absence has a consistency, like the dark water of a river, like oil, some kind of sticky dirty liquid that you can struggle and perhaps drown in. It has a thickness like night, an indefinite space with no landmarks, nothing to bang against, where you search for a light, some small glimmer, something to hang on to and guide you. But absence is, first and foremost, silence. A vast, enveloping silence that weighs you down and puts you in a state where any unforeseeable, unidentifiable sound can make you jump.”

“There is the insanity of not being able to be seen together. An insanity that is aggravated in this case by the unprecedented situation of finding ourselves in the middle of a crowd and having to act like strangers. It seems crazy not to be able to show our happiness. Such an impoverished word. Others have this right, and they exercise it freely. Sharing their happiness makes them even more happy, makes them expand with joy. But we’re left stunted, compromised, by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves.”

“And when you’ve been hurt once, you’re afraid to try again later, in dread of enduring the same pain. You avoid getting hurt in an attempt to avoid suffering.”

“I had time to think all the way home about how affairs of the body are so much more preferable to affairs of the heart, but that sometimes you don’t have the choice.”

“You can never really let go of your childhood. Especially when it was happy.”

“Above all, we will no longer find the thing that first pushed us toward one another that day. That singular moment. The pure urgency of it. There were circumstances – a series of coincidences and simultaneous desire. There was something in the atmosphere, something in the time and the place, that brought us together. And then everything broke – like a firework exploding on a dark night in July that spirals out in all directions, blazing brightly, dying before it touches the ground, so that no one gets burned. No one gets hurt.”
Profile Image for Kenny.
494 reviews863 followers
March 19, 2022
We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.
Lie With Me ~~ Philippe Besson


In memory of Thomas Andrieu (1966-2016)

Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is a beautifully, delicate story that traces Besson's first love. The initial part of the story takes place at Barbezieux High School, a small town north of Bordeaux. Thomas Andrieu and Philippe Besson maintain a sensual, passionate but totally secretive relationship. Thirty years later, long after the relationship has ended, Philippe crosses paths with the son of Thomas ...

With Lie With Me, Besson lays bare his life as never before, according to him, describing the story of an overwhelming and impossible love that will leave an indelible trace on his life. It is the most honest Besson has ever been in his writing. Besson has come up with something more inventive, and more incredible than any of his fictional writings. He has never dared to create something so honest in the past. This is Besson's most Proustian work to date, a writer he has been heavily influenced by. And yet ...


Lie With Me begins in 2007, when the Besson sees a man he thinks is — but can’t be — Thomas Andrieu, a classmate and his first love in 1984. This meeting prompts Philippe to think back on his doomed relationship with Thomas.

The two young men were quite different from one another. Philippe was bookish, a teacher’s son who was slightly alienated from his classmates in rural Barbezieux, for being so smart and slightly effeminate. Thomas is the shaggy-haired, dark-eyed son of a farmer whose path has been laid out for him from the day he was born. Besson describes Thomas to C. Thomas Howell.

The teens are secretly infatuated with each other, though Philippe thinks it’s a one sided desire. He’s shocked when Thomas invites him to lunch. They meet far from town so their meeting won’t be discovered. Soon these two sneak off together and engage in sex for the first time.

Besson's openness in describing their affair sucks his readers into this world; so intimate are the descriptions that the feels he is in the room with the two of them during their encounters. The sex is often rough, clumsy and very tender, quick, rough and tender sex. During those encounters, Thomas has made a lasting impression on Philippe, one that still haunts him all these years later.

The last third of Lie With Me returns to 2007, when Philippe engages the man who reminds him of Thomas. It is Thomas’ son, Lucas ~~ and so begins an exchange that divulges the impact of the teenagers’ love decades later. To tell you more than this would spoil the story.


My two complaints concerning Lie With Me have to do with the translator. Much has been made of Molly Ringwald translating this book. She does a fine job. However, many reviewers and journalists act as though this book would not exist without Ringwald's being part of this project. She did not write Lie With Me, but you'd never know that from the press surrounding the book. They use Ringwald as the selling point for the book. My other complaint has to do with the title. In French, the title is Stop With Your Lies. Changing the title to Lie With Me eroticizes it and gives a double meaning. But I must admit, punning English title is much more inviting.

So is Lie With Me an autobiography of sorts, a memoir, or is it even true at all? Besson himself writes that he "invented stories all the time, with so much authenticity that people usually ended up believing me (sometimes even I was no longer able to disentangle the true from the false). Could I have made this story up from scratch? Could I have turned an erotic obsession into a passion? Yes, it’s possible." But this is Bensson's story so may tell it however he likes.

In the end, Lie With Me is a beautifully written book about loss, first love, and the pain and shame of hiding ones true self.

Profile Image for Jonathan.
743 reviews3,552 followers
December 29, 2022
"Later I will write about this longing, the intolerable deprivation of the other. I will write about the sadness that eats away at you, making you crazy. It will become the template for my books, in spite of myself. I wonder sometimes if I have ever written of anything else. It’s as if I never recovered from it: the inaccessible other, occupying all my thoughts."

just hit me with a brick next time, it will be less painful than reading the beautiful all-consuming prose Philippe Besson has blessed us with

in other words, if you catch me obsessively rereading this in the months to come: no you didn't. mind your own business.


"It was love, of course."

aaaand, i'm crying again.


This is my favourite book (second place only to A Little Life ).

Maybe I'll write an actual review next time I read it (and we all know I will read it again, probably soon), but today I will just lie down and think about it in silence.


4th read:

cette fois en francais. je dois vous dire que mon francais est vraiment mauvais - je suis desolé.

L'écriture originale de Besson est encore plus belle. je ne compris tous mais je l'ai quand même apprécié. j'ai quand même pleuré. je ne vais jamais écrire un 'review' pour cet livre, je ne peux pas, je pense. je n'ai pas les mots pour expliquer ce que ce livre signifie pour moi. - peut-être la prochaine fois.

"Je voulais juste t'écrire que j'ai été heureux pendant ces mois que nous avons passés ensemble, que je n'ai jamais été aussi hereux, et que je sais déjà que je ne serai plus jamais aussi heureux."

[translation (approximately):
this time in french. let me preface by saying that my french is really bad - i'm sorry

Besson's original writing is even more beautiful. i didn't understand everything but i still enjoyed it. and it still made me cry. i will never write a review for this book, i don't think i can. i don't have the words to explain what this book means to me. - maybe next time

"I just wanted to write to tell you that I have been happy during these months together, that I have never been so happy, and that I already know that I will never be so happy again."]
Profile Image for Judith.
724 reviews2,615 followers
July 15, 2019
This passion that can’t be talked about, that has to be concealed, gives way to the terrible question: if it isn’t talked about, how can one know that it really exists? One day, when it’s over, when it finally comes to an end, no one will be able to attest to what took place.

Is this a memoir or just fiction? Surely it's a memoir and if it is it makes this even more of a compelling read.I was a mess after I finished this.It was always going to be obvious the outcome for Thomas and Philippe wouldn't be the one the reader wanted and that wasn't really the reason I was a mess.It was more about the world we live in where as recently as the 1980's people still have to hide their sexuality and as a result never get to live their lives the way they want to.

Starting in 1984 and finishing in 2017 this one touched me deeply.Two young boys who became lovers for a summer but were never destined to be much more.

I did struggle,initially with the lack of dialogue but the more I read the more I didn't mind although as a result the book had a very melancholy feel to it.The joy and anguish of that first love told in the most beautiful words here.

The majority of the book centres around Thomas and Philippe's youth.How they got together and their subsequent relationship.My heart ached for these boys.Their story was so touching and yet so sad.How many people meet and fall in love and never really stand a chance?

The later part is when Philippe meets Thomas's son by chance one day and finally finds out a little of Thomas's life after the summer of 1984.I say a little of Thomas's life because although his story is told there's so much you don't know in a way.

It's not romance but it definitely was a love story....

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Profile Image for danerys.
451 reviews217 followers
June 23, 2022
✧ ↝ 5 stars

i feel literally empty🥲
but i am genuinely at a loss for how to review a book such as this one. these sad, beautifully written types of books are often my favorite to read, if only to make myself feel something and to try in vain to remember all of the beautiful quotes that i will forget hours later.

to begin with, i will say that although i greatly appreciated this book for everything that it was: beautiful writing, a tragic love affair, and as the blurb on the back states, the heartbreaking passage of time, i think i had put this book on too high of a pedestal before reading it, due to the fact that seeing it and reading the back and maybe the last sentence too oops i could already tell that it was going to be one of those books that would make me think and make me feel and leave an imprint on my soul in a way that many other books do not. it may also have had something to do with the length of the book and that in the time it took for proper characterization to happen, i was already at the stage where i wanted to feel something from all of the gorgeous quotes being thrown my way about a love affair i had yet to wholly see for myself. i think that when i reread this book, (and that’s a when, not if), i will be able to feel more deeply about it having already been through the story once with the characters and being able to take into context what i know from having read the book before. however, taking into consideration the author’s awareness of the length of the book and the amount of pages it would have to take to adequately enthrall the reader into feeling such emotion, i think that it is incredibly impressive the amount of sheer emotion this book evokes in the reader in such a short amount of pages.

although, i ask myself, truly, does this little argument with myself matter? would i rate the book any differently if i decided, for example, that the book should’ve evoked more emotion in me that it did? i am fairly sure that the answer is no, as what i take into consideration maybe the most out of everything while reading books (other than how it makes me feel, obviously) is the writing. the writing was so beautiful to me that regardless, i think i would’ve given it an extremely high rating just for that, as ive done so before with other books; poetry, for example.

i won’t go into the details of the ‘plot’ of this book, if you can even call it that, because it feels so much like real life. i think you can probably figure it out by reading the blurb or even just going to it’s goodreads page. i will tell you that throughout the book, the narrator recounts the story with a kind of melancholic yearning that leaves you anticipating what heartbreaking thing will happen that has left such an impact on the narrator. you could even tell from the sad, nostalgic feeling portrayed by the cover of the book that it won’t be uplifting in any sense and will most likely be a story of lost love.

while i was expecting, in general, while putting this book on such a high pedestal i thought maybe i would be comparing it to all my favorite books wondering if it would be better, for this book to make me feel that sharp pain that would make me sob as the final page closed, it was more of an emptiness that i felt at finishing the story, hence the first line of this review.

the characterization, in my opinion, of the main character was very well done. i could feel his yearning and infatuation towards thomas nearly the whole time, although i felt at some times he was almost unreliable in the sense that he would claim to be “over” thomas or do something that he claimed he didn’t do although it was painfully obvious to the reader that he did, in fact, do it for that reason. he himself as an older person looking back on his youth would even correct himself at times. it was probably the fact that the book is entirely from his perspective, but he felt like the character i got to know the best and more than many other protagonists in stories. in some ways i greatly related to the main character too, which left me feeling seen.

additionally, i thought it was exceptional how hard it was for both the reader and the main character to gauge thomas’s real feelings towards the whole situation, until the end, when it was slowly revealed to us and felt like a gut punch. it realistically portrayed how hard it is to know why someone says things and does things if they are not you.

i did, however, have a slight problem with the characterization of thomas during the last chapters of the book. i felt as though instead of exploring his character further, he was used as a plot device to show that he was a hopeless example of somebody who didn’t do what they needed to do for themself and let society trap them into a life that they ultimately couldn’t withstand. i let it slide because i thought that it wasn’t unrealistic for that to happen to thomas; it didn’t seem out of character in any way and he seemed to know himself in the beginning of the story how he would end up. i just thought that it dehumanized him a bit at the end, as we never truly got to see his perspective on anything and how his thoughts and his emotions could’ve led to further events, instead of just how people around him saw him and the hopeless despair he ultimately succumbed to.

this book was a true, raw depiction of youthful loving and yearning, and the mark that it leaves on people after the fact. it is about regret and human nature and sexuality and love. i genuinely love books like these.
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) on-hiatus.
1,090 reviews794 followers
July 7, 2019
5 stars Audiobook

4 stars for the story

-This is the story of Philippe and Thomas, two boys who fall in love while attending high school in France in the 80s.

-In a way it is a memoir, the author denies it. 😂😊 But i know it is.

-The writing is lyrical and amazing. The author made me feel the way he was feeling.

-Thomas, Thomas, Thomas... Gaaaaah!

It is worth reading.

Profile Image for persephone ☾.
461 reviews2,041 followers
June 4, 2022
i feel like my heart has been run over by a truck
i've been crying non-stop since i started this book and my mental health isn't good enough for me to handle the type of emotional distress that this book delivers :)
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
May 9, 2019
I read this novel for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found.

A thoughtful examination of the ways social class shapes the experience and memory of love, Lie With Me explores the emotional toll of homophobia upon gay male interiority. From the vantage point of the present, Parisian novelist Philippe, a fictionalized version of Besson, recounts the rise and fall of an affair he began at seventeen with a stoic classmate, as well as the long-lasting aftermath of that first love. Beginning in 1984 near the countryside in Charente, France, the romance flares in intensity, until class differences and heteronormativity forever separate the pair. The first part, comprising two thirds of the slim novel, centers on the boys' love for each other; in the second and third, an adult Philippe meets his old lover's son by chance and learns of his final fate. Ringwald’s spare translation is moving, and Besson's fragmented, self-reflexive style reminds one of a much more accessible Marguerite Duras.
Profile Image for Henk.
848 reviews
February 25, 2023
A tender love story on the cost of hiding oneself and the power class differences still holds on opportunities and life
What he likes about me is also what keeps me separate from him.

With a different, less distant narrator this book could have been even more powerful. Also: after A Little Life I am a bit numb to emotional stories this month, but Lie With Me is a well written book on teenage love and the impact this has on two very different boys and their lives.

The writer narrator (also called Philippe like author Philippe Besson) is triggered to recall his youth and his relationship with Thomas. Growing up in a rural village in the 1980s he is called out not just for being feminine and near-sighted but also for being the son of the principal and smarter than most of his fellow classmates.
To allow it to be said is to confirm it is something he thinks about call outs about his sexuality. But exactly this reputation is what attracts taciturn Thomas to him.

The distance between both boys, despite some quick escalation in physical intimacy (it goes fast, from hi, sex, to bye), is large:
Because you will leave and we will stay Thomas tells Philippe, referring to the different paths in life he foresees for the both of them.
Philippe also reflects on himself, and how his identity is defined in part by how he differs from his fellow classmates:
I go back to what I was, the boy who intrigues, not the boy who satisfies
In contrast to the half Spanish farmer son Thomas, Philippe has all kinds of hope and expectations projected upon him, with and older mathematician brother looming large above the trajectory his life should have. AIDS picking up is also something prominently at the horizon.

This distance doesn't help in progressing the understanding between Thomas and Philippe: Our relationship was founded on this absence of obligation
However this is a lie in multiple senses. The conclusion of the book is heartrending:
…and that I already know, I will never be so happy again

Or otherwise she confuses youth with happiness, as people often do

You get used to everything, even the defection of those that you thought you were bound to forever

I think, in the end he remained hidden all his life
Profile Image for ☆ Todd.
1,348 reviews1,483 followers
July 28, 2019

A beautifully EXHAUSTING story.
"This feeling of love, it transports me, it makes me happy. But it also consumes me and makes me miserable, the way all impossible loves are miserable."
That quote was extremely telling as to the overall tone of the book.

As told, I felt only infatuation from Philippe, and pretty cold indifference from Thomas, so I wouldn't really call this "my type" of romance.

Also, I found neither of the MC's very likeable. Philippe came off as pompous and jaded, while Thomas was generally as affectionate as a pet rock, fresh from the freezer.

We did get somewhat of a bit of closure at the very end, but depressing, depressing, deeeeee-goddamn-pressing.
The first part of that admission truly shocked me, while the second part, the sheer resignation of it, at only 18 years old no less, didn't even make me blink.

The one bright spot in the story was young Lucas, but by the end, even his initial seemingly-happy existence had been decimated.

The writing was without a doubt very good, but Christ, getting through all of the constant descriptions, with very, VERY little actual dialogue (or hope), reading this book felt like trying to swim through peanut butter.

So if you're a fan of doomed romances, without a hint of an HEA, or even more than a brief glimpse of true happiness (from *either* MC everdy-ever), then this may be the book for you.

2.5 *would-more-'happy'-have-freaking-killed-you* stars for my overall enjoyment of the story and MC's.
Profile Image for Emily B.
426 reviews418 followers
December 11, 2020
This is a memorable read for me. I found it touching, beautiful, and pure. There is beauty in it’s simplicity of one person recalling a time in their life, or in this case, a relationship in their life in an honest and unobstructed way without too many other narratives or characters to distract.

I believed every word and felt everything the narrator felt, which shows how beautifully written it is.
Profile Image for Nhi Nguyễn.
964 reviews1,237 followers
January 14, 2022
Update 2: Ui trời ơi bộ phim dựng từ tác phẩm này đã quay xong và đang vào giai đoạn hậu kỳ rùi nghen mọi người ơi!!! https://www.cineuropa.org/en/newsdeta... Hóng dễ sợ luôn á :)))

Update 1: Ôi sau bao nhiêu thời gian đợi chờ dài cổ thông tin về bộ phim dựng từ cuốn tiểu thuyết này, cuối cùng cũng đã có update về tiến độ làm phim rồi. Phần casting chọn diễn viên đã xong hình như là từ cuối năm trước, mùa xuân này chúng ta sẽ biết được dàn cast gồm những ai. Mùa hè này phim sẽ bắt đầu bấm máy tại vùng Cognac - nơi làm rượu cognac nổi tiếng của Pháp ^^ Nếu vậy thì dự là sớm lắm cũng phải tới cuối năm nay mới được xem phim, hoặc sẽ là năm sau... Thôi ráng chờ, vì một ngày mai được xem “Arrête avec tes mensonges” he he he https://www.sudouest.fr/2020/01/10/un...

“Đừng tự dối mình” (tựa gốc tiếng Pháp: “Arrête avec tes mensonges”, dịch ra đúng từng từ từng chữ trong tiếng Anh là “Stop with your lies”) là cuốn tiểu thuyết mang màu sắc hồi ký của nhà văn người Pháp Philippe Besson. Cuốn sách là câu chuyện của tác giả về thời tuổi trẻ nồng nhiệt của mình, khi ông đã gặp và yêu một cậu bạn học cùng trường nhưng khác lớp. Kể từ sau Call Me by Your Name, đây có lẽ là cuốn tiểu thuyết về đề tài tình yêu đồng tính nam hay nhất, ấn tượng nhất, sâu sắc nhất mà tôi từng đọc. “Đừng tự dối mình” không dài, bản dịch tiếng Việt cũng chỉ có vỏn vẹn chừng 200 trang sách, nhưng với chừng đó dung lượng và chừng đó từ ngữ, Philippe Besson đã dệt nên cả một khoảng vùng trời ký ức vừa hạnh phúc vừa buồn đau của một chàng trai đồng tính, một chàng trai đã yêu say đắm và đã trải qua nỗi tiếc nuối của sự chia ly.

Đó là vào năm 1984, tác giả lúc bấy giờ 17 tuổi (khoảng thời gian và độ tuổi của nhân vật chính khi câu chuyện diễn ra giống với “Call me by your name” nhỉ? Cũng giữa những năm 80 của thế kỷ 20, cũng tuổi 17 cùng sự nhận thức đầy đủ về giới tính thật của mình…). Philippe Besson vô tình bắt gặp cậu bạn Thomas Andrieu trên sân trường, người lúc bấy giờ đang đứng giữa đám bạn của mình, dường như không hề chú ý đến những gì bạn bè mình trò chuyện. Bằng những miêu tả tỉ mỉ, tinh tế đúng chất văn chương Pháp, tác giả đã dựng nên hình dung của một Thomas Andrieu dường như sinh ra là để yêu Philippe Besson, một Thomas ít nói, sống khép kín, luôn cô đơn, ít giao thiệp và ghét đến những nơi đông đúc, ồn ào.

Và như thể tiếng sét ái tình giáng xuống, tác giả đã yêu cậu bạn mình ngay từ cái nhìn đầu tiên. Nhưng có lẽ lúc đó Philippe vẫn chưa biết đó là tình yêu. Ngay cả Thomas cũng vậy, khi chàng trai mời tác giả đến quán cà phê, khi hai người bắt đầu cuộc tình của mình, một mối tình nồng nhiệt, bí mật, giấu giếm nhưng lại chạm đến một mức độ thân mật mà cho dù sống đến bao lâu, cả hai cũng sẽ chẳng bao giờ có thể trải nghiệm lại. Philippe Besson đã biết mình là người đồng tính từ khi ông chỉ mới 12 tuổi, khi ông làm tình lần đầu tiên với một chàng trai gần nhà. Nhưng có lẽ đến tận khi gặp Thomas Andrieu, ông mới thực sự biết yêu một người cùng giới tính với mình là ra sao, mới thực sự biết được giữa hai con người lại có thể tồn tại một sự gắn kết vừa tràn đầy ham muốn, vừa thấu tận tâm hồn như vậy.

Mối tình của họ hình thành giữa một xã hội, một thời kỳ mà cái nhìn dành cho người đồng tính vẫn còn đầy sự kỳ thị và xúc phạm, giữa một ngôi làng thuộc dạng “vùng sâu vùng xa” của nước Pháp, nơi người dân vẫn còn mang tư tưởng rất cổ hủ về tình yêu đồng giới. Tác giả yêu cậu bạn của mình mà không được công khai tình yêu ấy, không được để họ bị bắt gặp đi cùng nhau, ở riêng cùng nhau. Philippe Besson yêu Thomas Andrieu qua những buổi hẹn hò lén lút, giấu cha giấu mẹ, giấu thầy cô, trong nỗi sợ bị gọi là bê-đê, là “bóng”, và thậm chí còn có một nỗi sợ lớn hơn nữa, đó là sợ bị nhiễm HIV/AIDS (người đồng tính nam là nhóm người có nguy cơ mắc HIV/AIDS cao nhất, vì thế mà HIV/AIDS còn được gọi là “bệnh ung thư của người đồng tính nam”. Lý do cho nguy cơ cao này là do người đồng tính nam nếu muốn quan hệ tình dục theo kiểu thâm nhập (penetration sex) thì chỉ có thể là qua đường hậu môn (anal sex). Mà theo nghiên cứu khoa học thì tế bào ở hậu môn dễ bị nhiễm HIV hơn là tế bào ở âm đạo của người phụ nữ. Ngoài ra thì tinh dịch và màng nhầy ở hậu môn có thể mang trong mình nhiều vi rút HIV hơn là chất dịch ở âm đạo. Vì thế mà gay men dễ mắc HIV hơn là straight men).

Và tình yêu ấy cũng tràn đầy những giằng xé, nghĩ suy của một Philippe Besson yêu đắm say Thomas Andrieu nhưng luôn tự hỏi liệu cậu ấy có yêu mình, và nếu có thì liệu có đắm say, có ám ảnh, có nhớ nhung quay quắt như mình yêu cậu ấy hay không. Trong tình yêu đó của Philippe Besson có những giây phút “hậm hực lòng ghen” của một chàng trai khi nhìn thấy Thomas thân mật với một cô gái, khi cái sức ép của việc giữ bí mật tình cảm giữa hai người cứ dần dần đè nặng lên tâm hồn tác giả của cái thuở chưa đầy đôi mươi. Khi mà Thomas Andrieu, phút trước có thể bao bọc Philippe Besson trong những giờ làm tình hoang dại, có thể kết nối với tác giả và đạt đến một sự thân mật không cần nói thành lời, thì phút sau lại khiến tác giả vỡ òa trong sự tự nhận thức, hóa ra mình chẳng biết gì về chàng trai mà mình yêu…

Bằng văn phong dung dị, giản đơn nhưng chân thực và có sức gợi đến lạ kỳ, Philippe Besson đã phơi bày lên trang giấy không chỉ một mối tình đồng tính của tuổi hoa niên, cái thời vô ưu vô lo, tự do tự tại. Ông còn gói ghém và nâng niu bên trong những trang sách cả một khoảng thời gian đẹp nhất, rực rỡ nhất, hạnh phúc nhất của cả một đời người: tuổi thanh xuân, cái thời ngồn ngộn sức sống và tình yêu không bao giờ quay trở lại. Có một nỗi tiếc nuối mơ hồ ám ảnh câu chuyện ngay từ những trang đầu tiên, ngay từ cái dự cảm của Thomas rằng rồi đây, Philippe sẽ bay đến những chân trời xa, sẽ trở thành người nổi tiếng, rời bỏ ngôi làng heo hút vắng vẻ chỉ vỏn vẹn 160 người dân này để tung hoành khắp nước Pháp, và Thomas sẽ ở lại như thể định mệnh đã sắp đặt sẵn một cuộc chia ly ám ảnh như thế này. Tấm bằng Tú tài cả hai đạt được vừa là sự công nhận trình độ học vấn của họ, vừa là cái thanh chì nặng trĩu đánh dấu sự kết thúc của một cuộc tình, rộng ra là cả một thời thanh xuân mộng mơ tươi đẹp:

“Tôi chụp bức ảnh ấy. Trong bức ảnh ấy, bận quần jean, chiếc áo sơmi carô xắn tay, anh cầm cọng cỏ giữa những ngón tay. Và anh mỉm cười. Một nụ cười nhẹ nhàng, tình tứ, trìu mến, tôi cảm nhận vậy. Khiến tôi chao đảo mãi một thời gian dài sau đó mỗi khi nhìn lại hình ảnh ấy. Vẫn còn khiến tôi chao đảo khi tôi viết lại những dòng này và tôi ngắm nhìn bức ảnh, đặt trên bàn làm việc của tôi, ở đó, ngay bên cạnh bàn phím máy tính tôi. Bây giờ đây tôi đã biết. Tôi biết rằng Thomas đã đồng ý chụp bức ảnh duy nhất này chỉ bởi vì anh đã hiểu (đã quyết định) đó là lần cuối cùng chúng tôi ở cạnh nhau. Anh mỉm cười để tôi mang nụ cười anh ấy theo cùng tôi.”

Số phận dẫn dắt cuộc đời của Philippe và Thomas rẽ ra hai hướng khác nhau, thế nhưng những gì họ đã cùng nhau chia sẻ, cái tình yêu và sự thân mật khủng khiếp đó, vẫn còn ám ảnh họ suốt những năm sau này. Dẫu Philippe có trải qua hàng loạt những cuộc tình một đêm, ngủ với nhiều người đàn ông, cặp kè rồi chia tay với những chàng trai khác, thì hồi ức của mối tình đầu, của một thời thanh xuân không thể kéo dài mãi vẫn vậy, vẫn sống động trong tâm trí ông. Và trớ trêu thay, nếu Philippe là kẻ luôn tự nhận mình hay nói dối, và trở thành nhà văn - người kiếm tiền nhờ bịa ra chuyện để viết - thì ông lại hoàn toàn sống đúng với sự thật về bản thân mình, khi ông tự tin thừa nhận trên một show truyền hình rằng ông là người đồng tính. Còn Thomas, người luôn lầm lỳ ít nói, lại chọn cách sống một cuộc đời giả dối vì áp lực từ kỳ vọng của gia đình và xã hội.

Thomas không dám vùng lên để chọn lựa cuộc sống cho riêng mình, vì trong mắt ông, ông không hề có sự chọn lựa đó. Ông không dám đi ngược lại những gì đã được sắp đặt sẵn cho ông, và cùng lúc, ông chấp nhận để cái gánh nặng về giới tính thật của mình, về một tình yêu không thể kết thúc có hậu càng ngày càng đè nặng lên tâm hồn. Thomas cũng giống như rất nhiều người đồng tính khác không dám công khai con người thật của mình, không dám chấp nhận sống vui vẻ và bắt đầu lại từ đầu để bản thân mình được hạnh phúc. Có thể họ không đủ dũng khí như Thomas, cũng có thể họ vẫn còn đang hoang mang, lạc lối và không biết phải đối mặt như thế nào với giới tính của bản thân, để rồi những bi kịch như Thomas cứ diễn ra, vì họ lựa chọn che giấu con người mình suốt cả đời, chấp nhận sống một cuộc đời giả tạo và dối trá.

Bi kịch ấy có lẽ còn ảnh hưởng đến cả tác giả Philippe Besson, người đã từng có cơ hội để nối lại liên lạc với Thomas Andrieu, nhưng rồi nhận ra mọi thứ đã thay đổi, và dẫu cố cách mấy, con người ta cũng không thể nào quay trở lại cái thời của hai nam sinh 17 tuổi, yêu nhau trong bí mật, trong những cái ôm ấp và những cuộc làm tình. Sự tiếc nuối của ngày chia ly không thể nào so sánh được với sự tiếc nuối của nhiều năm sau, khi cả hai đều đã 40 tuổi, khi gương vỡ cuối cùng lại không thể nào lành, khi những gì đã thuộc về dĩ vãng cuối cùng chỉ có thể sống mãi trong dĩ vãng. Ở tuổi 17, họ chia ly vì số phận đẩy đưa, vì cả hai vẫn còn cả cuộc đời ở phía trước để mà sống, để mà học tập, mà phấn đấu. Nhưng ở tuổi 40, họ vẫn tiếp tục chia ly, vì điều gì? Philippe đã có câu trả lời:

“Và nhất là, chúng tôi sẽ không tìm thấy lại cái điều, đã thúc giục chúng tôi người này đến với người kia, của ngày ấy. Sự thôi thúc rất tinh khôi ấy. Cái khoảnh khắc duy nhất ấy. Đã có những tình huống đưa đẩy, sự gắn kết của số phận, một số sự trùng hợp, những ham muốn đồng thời, điều gì đó trong không khí, điều gì đó nữa của thời khắc, của nơi chốn, tất cả tạo làm thành một khoảnh khắc, tạo nên sự gặp gỡ, nhưng tất cả lại đứt đoạn, mọi thứ xoay chuyển nhiều hướng khác nhau, tất cả nổ bung lên, giống kiểu những tia pháo hoa bung ra tứ phía trên bầu trời đêm rồi rớt xuống như mưa tuôn, rồi lịm tắt khi càng xuống thấp và tất ngấm trước khi chạm đến mặt đất, để không thiêu cháy người nào, thế rồi khoảnh khắc đã kết thúc, đã mất, nó sẽ không quay trở lại; đó chính là chuyện xảy ra giữa chúng tôi.”

“Sự thôi thúc rất tinh khôi” chính là cụm từ tôi dùng để miêu tả mối tình của Elio và Oliver trong “Call me by your name”, cả cái hình ảnh pháo hoa nổ bung lên, đẹp tuyệt trong khoảnh khắc để rồi tắt lịm cũng vậy. Hình như những chuyện tình đồng tính nào ở châu Âu, vào những năm 80 của thế kỷ 20 đều buồn bã và để lại nhiều tiếc nuối nhiều đến như vậy hay sao?... “Đừng tự dối mình” cũng đẹp và buồn; nó đã khiến tôi khóc rất nhiều, khóc cho cặp đôi Philippe - Thomas, cho một mối tình dang dở, cho những gì lỡ làng và mãi mãi lỡ làng, cho một khoảng thời gian trôi qua thấm thoắt như thoi đưa, tay dang ra dẫu nhanh cách mấy cũng không thể nào giữ lại. Ám ảnh nhất vẫn là câu cuối cùng trong bức thư Thomas viết cho Philippe nhưng không bao giờ gửi, bức thư sau nhiều năm ròng cũng đã đến được tay Philippe:

“Mình chỉ muốn nói với cậu rằng mình đã hạnh phúc trong những tháng ngày chúng ta bên nhau, rằng mình chưa bao giờ hạnh phúc như thế, và mình biết mình sẽ chẳng bao giờ hạnh phúc như vậy nữa.”

P.S.: Cuốn này hay quá trời mà hình như trên Tiki đang bị ế… Thấy giảm giá 35% bữa giờ luôn mà hiếm có ai đọc rồi viết nhận xét trên trển… Có thể vì cái bìa sách nhìn không mấy hấp dẫn (mặc dù mình hiểu việc NXB Tao Đàn lựa chọn bức tranh “The Swan” - mô tả một con thiên nga trắng và một con thiên nga đen đang cố gắng đạt đến sự hợp nhất - của nữ danh họa người Thụy Điển Hilma af Klint làm bìa sách là có dụng ý hẳn hoi), cái tựa sách cũng chẳng gợi được mảy may suy nghĩ nào rằng đây là một cuốn tiểu thuyết về đề tài tình yêu đồng tính. Haizzz, tội nghiệp em nó... Ai thích đọc tiểu thuyết tình cảm đồng tính buồn thì lên Tiki mua ủng hộ nha, hốt ngay về đọc nha :))

Đọc sách xong mình ngay lập tức lên google search thông tin xem cuốn sách đã (hoặc sẽ) được chuyển thể thành phim hay không, vì sách hay thế này mà không có phim thì uổng lắm ấy. Và mình đã tìm được một bài báo trên trang Allociné - trang web tiếng Pháp chuyên về các thông tin phim ảnh thế giới - phỏng vấn tác giả Philippe Besson cùng thông tin rằng cuốn sách “Đừng tự dối mình” sắp được dựng thành phim :D Oh la la quá đã!!!! Đây là bài báo, đăng vào ngày 28/8/2017: http://www.allocine.fr/article/fichea...

Đại ý thì là bác tác giả, kể từ khi cuốn sách trở thành best-seller và nổi tiếng rầm rầm, đã nhận được vô số lời chào mời làm phim. Nhưng cuối cùng bác ấy lựa chọn Olivier Peyon - người bác ấy hoàn toàn không hề quen biết - làm đạo diễn cho phim, vì Monsieur Peyon đã đọc hết từ đầu đến cuối cuốn tiểu thuyết ngay từ khi nó vừa mới được xuất bản, khi vẫn chưa biết là cuốn sách có thành công nổi tiếng hay không. Nói chung đạo diễn Olivier Peyon tiếp cận cuốn tiểu thuyết với sự chân thành, thực sự thấu hiểu nội dung quyển sách, yêu mến và mong muốn được chuyển thể “Đừng tự dối mình”, chứ không phải kiểu thấy sách nổi tiếng rồi mới mon men tới xin được chuyển thể.

Philippe Besson sẽ giao toàn quyền việc làm phim cho Olivier Peyon luôn, bác không dính gì tới bộ phim hết, kể cả việc viết kịch bản, vì theo quan điểm của bác ấy thì bác ấy không thích áp đặt suy nghĩ của mình lên quá trình sáng tạo của một người khác :)) Bản thân bác ấy trở thành một nhà văn vì thích sự tự do sáng tạo, nghĩ gì viết nấy, và bác ấy không muốn cướp đi sự tự do đó của Olivier Peyon khi sáng tạo nên bộ phim, mặc dù đó là phim chuyển thể từ một source material. Nên là độc giả hãy hy vọng sẽ có một bản phim không phải là copy y chang của bản tiểu thuyết, nhưng mong là sẽ không quá khác biệt, vì thực sự là bản gốc đã quá tuyệt vời rồi ah ah ah!!!!
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
February 10, 2019

"I feel this desire swarming in my belly and running up my spine. But I have to constantly contain and compress it so that it doesn't betray me in front of the others. Because I've already understood that desire is visible."

Philippe Besson is an extraordinary writer with a soul stirring lyrical prose that left me breathless at times.

In Lie With Me, Besson takes the reader into the vulnerable mind of a 17 year old gay boy, Philippe, as he embarks on a clandestine affair with a classmate, Thomas, eventually falling in in love with the boy he knows he can't keep.

Philippe's delicate and pure nature are the heart of this book and the author conveys his pain and confusion exquisitely. Though it is never addressed, I suspect that this book is at least partially autobiographical which only lended to the emotion it invoked in me

My only critique would be that I felt, at times, that the author veered too far off course leaving me wanting more of Philippe's thoughts and his experiences as a gay boy trying to navigate his way through France in 1984.

NOTE: This is a short story, only 90 pages on my Kindle.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,765 reviews3,847 followers
March 6, 2019
I recently saw Ellen Page on The Late Show give an impassioned plea to end the hate against the queer community. I was moved by her words and while reading this novella I kept thinking about them. How long has hatred left its indelible mark and perhaps changed the course of so many lives senselessly? Philippe Besson and Thomas Andrieu can be counted amongst that collateral damage. There was no hate crime or bullying per se but both were victims of a more persistent kind of hatred that relegated them to a clandestine relationship: intolerance.

Philippe and Thomas should've been afforded the same privileges as their heterosexual counterparts without impunity. They should've been allowed the freedom to love and be loved without the need for courage or bravery to do so and Lie With Me is the story of how bigotry stymied that freedom and fear of reprisal stole their innocence.

It seems crazy to not be able to show our happiness. Such an impoverished word. Others have this right, and they exercise it freely. Sharing their happiness makes them even more happy, makes them expand with joy. But we're left stunted, compromised, by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves. This passion that can't be talked about, that has to be concealed, gives way to the terrible question: if it isn't talked about, how can one know that it really exists?

Lie With Me is poignant memoir that tells the story of Philippe's first love of a beautiful boy with a tragic soul. Told from memory in three parts, making it difficult to avoid the inclusion of later events and making the specifics of dialogue hazy, thus giving the reader a bit non-linear retelling but an emotive one nonetheless. The first part takes place in 1984 when they are seniors and comprises the bulk of the story. The second part takes place in 2007 when during an interview Philippe sees a boy outside a hotel that's the spitting image of Thomas, a boy who turns out to be his son, and the events of 2016 conclude the story.

Philippe is inquisitive, precocious and gobsmacked when Thomas approaches him. Thomas is popular but quiet and solemn, resigned to a life he knows will never bring him happiness. At 17 he's already incorporated secrecy and deception as his norm and at 18 those habits will forever taint them both. During their time together they do seemingly snatch a few moments of bliss and Besson captured the intensity of his feelings for Thomas as well as the optimism and folly of youth. I truly felt not only his physical desire for him but his steadfast belief that they would find a way to carve out a future together, despite evidence to the contrary.

I'm not sure what I expected from this book but I absolutely did not expect a memoir. That tangible connection tethered me to the reality of the oppressive prejudice that has been globally devastating to so many for far too long. Prejudice robbed these two boys of a life together, a life they deserved and left in its place a life lived inauthentically for one and the other struggling to give his heart to another after having it broken by his first love.

Besson's prose is lyrical, evocative and exceedingly French, in that it encapsulates the essence of experiencing life through the prism of an artistic eye. What fascinates me about this perspective is the uncanny ability to both see and experience life with gusto while also believing it's all going to end disastrously, or at the very least disappointingly. That dichotomous worldview is, in part, what made Lie With Me not only touching but memorable.

Those who have not taken this step, who have not come to terms with themselves, are not necessarily frightened, that are perhaps helpless, disoriented, lost as one is in the middle of a forest that's too dark or dense or vast.

Even though Lie With Me has a melancholy overtone that will probably only appeal to a niche market, I was beguiled by Besson's eloquence and I hope more of his works are translated into English, especially if this is representative of his work. If you are someone who can appreciate that not all romances end happily, give his words a chance to weave their magic.


An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews35.9k followers
September 26, 2019
“But he had everything planned.

“The suddenness of the proposition disconcerts me. We were perfect strangers an hour ago”.

And then......
“We make love without a condom.
AIDS is there though. We even know of it’s true identity. It’s no longer refer to as ‘gay cancer’”.

By 20% into this short - one sitting - novel .....I already had my judgements.... I also knew how it was going to end.

Two complete High School strangers had sex in a deserted smelling corner of a locker room.

I don’t care what the sexual
orientation is - but their lust for each other...their hidden-can’t-tell-anybody- sex......was dangerous business.
“At that moment, I would have followed him anywhere”.....
What we learn about these boys, isn’t love.
It felt more like a confession about one’s own stupidity.

They believed they were protected by their youth. They were seventeen years old.
“You don’t die when you are seventeen years old”.
Well, you do!

For a student that had all A’s in school - the narrator didn’t think with his brain when he needed to most.

So more than a love story, for me, this novel was more of an important message:
And... having sex with strangers is never wise.

There was silence, shyness, desire, and kisses, between the boys.... and eventually more substantial sharing with each other.....
but I never cared for either of them.
Their togetherness wasn’t love.
I read about the book comparison with André Aciman’s novel,
“Call Me By Your Name”.
But ... the two books aren’t even in the same league.
There’s no character development in “Lie With Me”.
The novel itself felt too short. I was underwhelmed.

Living a hidden life - trapped in shame -
“ The impossibility of sharing a love that endures”....
is simply sad.

It’s a one dimensional story of a bad choice having gone wrong.

The cover is eye-catching beautiful.
The books value is getting the message across about safe sex - and sex with strangers.

First love? I didn’t buy it.
Profile Image for Lilyya ♡.
172 reviews237 followers
March 19, 2023

« L'écriture peut être un bon moyen pour survivre. Et pour ne pas oublier les disparus. Pour continuer le dialogue avec eux. Mais le manque prend probablement sa source dans cette première défection, dans une imbécile brûlure amoureuse »

Ce qui rend une lecture mémorable, percutante et poignante est le sentiment qui succède les derniers mots qui la clôturent. Je ne m’attendais certainement pas à ressentir tant de sentiments tous aussi contradictoires que vifs pour des personnages qui n’auront jamais droit à une second chance. C’est avec cœur un peu plus abîmé, saignant pour un amour perdu, des destins figés et des amants déchus que j’essaye de formuler tout cela.

« Évidemment, je "préfère les garçons".
Mais je ne suis pas encore capable de prononcer cette phrase »

On suivra le récit de Philippe détaillant trois étapes marquantes de sa vie.
Comment lui et Thomas, deux adolescents essayant de s’accepter dans une société qui pointe du doigt sans cesse ceux qui ne corespondent pas au moule prédéfini. Alors une question se pose : Comment un jeune homme peut-il épouser sa "différence" quand cette dernière est inlassablement réfutée par le monde qui l’entoure ?

« il me regarde d'une certaine manière et n'en déviera pas. En fin de compte, l'amour n'a été possible que parce qu'il m'a vu non pas tel que j'étais, mais tel que j'allais devenir. »

Deux réponses s’offrent à nous au fil de l’histoire; en premier nous avons Philippe de ceux qui embrassent pleinement leur homosexualité afin de mener une vie satisfaisante malgré un chagrin d’amour de jeunesse jamais estompé.

« Il dit : parce tu n'es pas du tout comme les autres, parce qu'on ne voit que toi sans que tu t'en rendes compte.
Il ajoute cette phrase, pour moi inoubliable : parce que tu partiras et que nous resterons. »

Et dans l’autre camp nous retrouvons Thomas de ceux qui se mentent impunément comme pour se punir dans une existence qu’ils ne désireront jamais, séquestrés dans une vie qui finira par les suffoquer tôt ou tard.

Peu importe leur chemin ou leur choix de vie, ils n’auront jamais un "ils vécurent heureux" peut-être qu’ils sont nés à la mauvaise époque ou dans le mauvais monde..

« Je voulais juste t'écrire que j'ai été heureux pendant ces mois que nous avons passés ensemble, que je n'ai jamais été aussi heureux, et que je sais déjà que je ne serai plus jamais aussi heureux »

Ce dernier passage me hantera très certainement pour un très long moment.💔

Cuz lila is a bad influence.
Et que ��a complète un livre sur deux de mes lectures obligatoires que je me suis infligée en français du mois😌
Profile Image for Axl Oswaldo.
332 reviews145 followers
June 29, 2022
If someone asks me if I have read about my own life in a book, I would say "yes, of course I have found myself in a book, so have many people"; but if someone asks me if I have found my own life so vivid and palpable in a book as if it were literally my own life, my own story but with different names, a different location, and perhaps a different ending, from now on I will say: "yes, reading Lie With Me I found that." Honestly, I was completely surprised once I started reading this novel, when I couldn't put it down since every part of it reminded me of my first love story, just exactly in the way our protagonist is living his. I'm still surprised, if you ask me, since I never lived such an experience reading a novel before, and now I'm really glad to have lived it, not only because of the experience itself, but also because Lie With Me has become an all-time favorite, and probably my favorite contemporary novel of my life.

Lie With Me is a story about hope and loss, about what it means to fall in love for the first time, and what it is to live that love, despite the fact that you have to live it without anyone knowing anything about it. It feels like a real, perhaps innocent first love story, and it is in fact like that: you and the other person, feeling free and being happy together, no matter how hard it might be.
This book, a straightforward yet beautifully written monologue, depicts a specific moment in our protagonist's life, the moment when he is a 17-year-old boy and meets Thomas, the guy who eventually would become his first lover. The novel is a perfect portrait of a beautiful, real relationship, and also describes the protagonist's feelings towards Thomas so vivid that you can almost feel them too; his vulnerability, his fears, his dreams, his future plans, etc. are other elements in the novel that let us know his story much better.
Sometimes the protagonist is also talking about his childhood, specific events which are crucial for us to understand why this or that is happening now, and other times he just shares his opinion on general topics, such as religion, or what living in the province really means (here I felt completely identified with him a lot, firstly because I have also lived in the province for many years, and secondly because his own experience with religion and mine are mostly the same).

As some of you know I have recently been listening to audiobooks almost all the time, and this one was not an exception: it was literally my workout audiobook—I'd highly recommend it—and that's why it took me a few days to finish it; otherwise I had read it in just one sitting since the story is really compelling, and once you start, you can't put it down. In fact, once I finished it, I felt the need to reread it right away.
I'm pretty sure I'm not going to forget this story for a long time, especially all those feelings that made me feel while I read it, and of course, the perfect, beautiful ending, that made me shed tears just at the very end of the novel. I almost wanted to call my first lover and asked him what he is up to now, after 8 years without knowing anything at all about his life; should I? (Just for the record, I don't even have his phone number or know where he lives, so it seems to be impossible).
In short, this is another great book you also should read, and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did. Perhaps in the near future I decide to come back and pick this up again and love it even more than the first time. Who knows.

“This feeling of love, it transports me, it makes me happy. At the same time, it consumes me and makes me miserable, the way all impossible loves are miserable.”

#PrideMonth Read (3)
Profile Image for George Ilsley.
Author 12 books228 followers
September 5, 2022
Stop with your lies
This short novel has three chapters, labelled with the years 1984, 2007 and 2016. The first chapter (the longest) revolves around the affair between two teenage boys, and is told in the voice of one of them, a writer, looking back at his youth.

There's a saying I often reflected on reading this book: "Youth is wasted on the young." When I was young, I didn't really appreciate what this meant. Another related expression is "If only I knew then what I know now."

This is a first person narrative, told from the perspective of a writer named Philippe, and dedicated to Thomas (the other boy), so this raises questions about what really happened? Is is true? We only see things from Philippe's point of view; Thomas was always someone who couldn't talk about himself or his needs, and remains mysterious. Yet this is often true of relationships, no matter how much talking happens. How much do we truly know ourselves, much less another?

After I finished reading I discovered the original title was Arrête avec tes mensonges which throws a whole different light on the text. The English title "Lie With Me" evokes affection, not the telling of lies, but the French title "Stop with your lies" is confrontational. But who would be saying this or hearing this in the book? [Ha! Now I suddenly remember—this expression is from the very first page, and is something his mother said to Philippe when he made up stories about people—an obsession that became his career.]

Overall, a remarkable beautiful book about the limits of true storytelling and the true nature of fiction. Now I have to read more from this author!
Profile Image for Emanuel.
86 reviews41 followers
July 30, 2021
What a mistake. What a mistake to finish this on the first day of my summer holiday. I really wish I hadn't. In fact I wish I hadn't even started it in the first place.

It's not enough to say this is heartbreaking. It's not enough to say it is, of course, written beautifully or that it's given teenage (literary) love a new voice. It's the weight of the sadness that falls on you from the very first pages that I couldn't shake off. The inevitable end that I wanted to stop reading from. I think this has been described as the French 'Call me by your name'; that's not entirely accurate. CMBYN's got obsession and lust in its core; they both tend to fade out with time. This one deals with regrets; you can carry your regrets an entire life.

I wish I hadn't read this because I can't imagine stories like this being true, I can't imagine men having lived - and even living - their lives like this. And because it breaks my heart thinking about those men thinking they "already know they will never be so happy again" when it is all they deserve.

And just to make it clear: this is a book that will speak to your heart because it's a great book. I almost want to beg you not to read it but instead I will say this: at least don't read it on your summer holiday.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,292 reviews2,290 followers
January 13, 2023
Annoyingly imperfectly perfect and poignant, I just couldn't keep my eyes and mind away from the very first sentence of this book. I haven't read anything that is this breezy and tugging. The words are raw, the emotions direct and the characters rather bound to secrecy all their lives. I got completely immersed in these mere few pages, got so lost and covered with emotions in between the lines that I simply had to finish up this book in one sitting. And yes, it's my perfect kind of read: precise, character driven, straightforward with issues that matter. I felt the pain and the beauty of the three main characters. The words are striking. The lines are so quotable. The short book is just full of feelings and emotions; and most of all real.

The story spans a lifetime of decades starting it when he was seventeen. I thought this was going to be just a book about young adult/lgbt/coming of age but damn, it turned out to be lot more than that. It talks about LGBT issues of course, but also homophobia, suicide, religion and writing in depths.

I love this book so much. Easily one of my most memorable reads of the year.
Profile Image for Mika.
262 reviews170 followers
February 6, 2017
Je sais pas comment font les gens pour se séparer d'eux-mêmes, parfois. Pour pas parler de leurs histoires dans ce qu'ils écrivent. À mes yeux, c'est pas envisageable. Je me nourris de mes expériences, de mes émotions, elles me permettent de parfois appréhender les livres autrement. Et puis parfois non, faut pas déconner.

Il y a douze ans, j'avais quatorze ans. J'étais au collège, j'avais pas d'amis, j'étais le p'tit gros, le monsieur bonnes notes, "le suceur" comme ils disaient. À cet âge là, je suis tombé amoureux pour la première fois. D'un garçon que je méritais pas, plus grand, plus beau, le mec c'était un putain d'astre, tu pouvais à peine le regarder dans les yeux. Notre histoire a duré quasiment deux ans. Et si je m'en souviens aujourd'hui, c'est pour énormément de raisons. Mais la seule que je vais oser écrire, c'est celle là : ton premier amour, tu l'oublies pas. Tu peux oublier sa voix, le nom de sa mère, la façon dont il/elle marchait. Tout le reste, ça reste en toi.

Là, tu vas me dire : "mec, c'est quoi le rapport, t'es pas sur le divan du psy, parle moi du bouquin."

Arrête avec tes mensonges, c'est l'histoire du premier amour de Philippe Besson. Rien de romancé, que dalle, juste la vérité. Que ce premier amour soit un garçon, ça tu t'en fous presque, parce que t'es totalement engagé dans cette histoire, t'es avec eux dans les années 80, tu vis Téchiné, tu vis la Boum, tu vis le SIDA, tu vis le walkman. Tu prends presque pas le temps de respirer parce que le récit est comme un souffle ininterrompu, une confession à bout de souffle, une porte ouverte sur une intimité qui renferme des trucs qui te donnent mal au coeur.

L'écriture de Besson, elle est nette, franche, comme un coup de fleuret. Il te perdra pas en fioritures, c'est un auteur de l'économie, de la retenue. Le génie de ce roman se trouve dans sa dualité. D'un côté, ouais, y'a l'histoire triste et merveilleuse de ce premier amour. Et de l'autre, il y a la création de l'écrivain, la genèse du romancier, les premières graines. Plus on lit, plus on s'aperçoit que l'auteur ne peut pas sortir de lui-même, et que, consciemment ou non, il a écrit sur Lui. Ce bouquin te donne la clé de tous les autres. Je t'assure que ça, c'est un sacré bonheur. Tu vas comprendre le manque, l'absence, le vide, la volonté de combler, l'amour des hommes, les adieux.

Bref. Je peux pas aller plus loin sans te gâcher le livre. "Arrête avec tes mensonges" a été un coup de coeur. Un coup de coeur taille Faucon Millenium. Alors viens m'en parler très vite, une fois que tu l'auras lu.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
August 27, 2019
tw // homophobia (f-slur),

to my lactose intolerant ass, melancholy books are like cheese: so, so good but so, so bad for me at the same time.

This book employs a lot of tropes and stylistic choices that have a track record of grabbing me by the heart: a succinct but gorgeous writing style, a hindsight/regretful point of view, forbidden romance, etc. Though this book is translated from French, the writing flows so well. Even though this book definitely does a lot of telling instead of showing, it does so in a way that places you in the shoes of the main character and develops the characters through metaphor and flashback. From the way this book is sectioned off to the perfect shortness of it to the haunting last line, I was mesmerized. I can for sure see myself rereading this one way with a non-library copy and annotating the hell out of some great passages.

Even though my immediate reaction to this is five stars and I definitely recommend it if you can stomach tragedy, I'm not sure how lasting it will be in my memory and if it will stand the test of time to be a favorite of the year. Still, I'm glad I read it and I would certainly pick up more from this author.
Profile Image for David.
579 reviews137 followers
November 15, 2019
For as much as I like to keep reading a novel that captures me, you can hear where this story is going - constantly. Each major character enters happily. My heart eventually hurt for everyone. All because:

"Those who have not taken this step, who have not come to terms with themselves, are not necessarily frightened, they are perhaps helpless, disoriented, lost as one is in the middle of a forest that's too dark or dense or vast."

I quickly got half-way or more through this book, then uncharacteristically slowed myself down. You just know/suspect and just don't want to hear it. I posted a status about "not wanting this book to end" - how foreboding.

I will have to do a quick re-read before I return this library book.

I've seen enough foreign movies to understand, and even like, an ending that might not be happy, since the entire tone/point of the story would be destroyed if the ending were changed.
The ending of this book must remain. It will make me remember.
If only we could say these attitudes are old/out-dated.

Reading this a 2nd time. Emotions have me in tears early.
Looking through the GR Quote section for Philippe Besson and this book, you'll see multi-paragraphs quoted in a single quote. Really necessary to capture the lean dialogue's depth.
Profile Image for Marti .
227 reviews105 followers
August 2, 2022
“It’s the most simple words that destroy us.”

Delicious writing, so beautiful it makes you want to read the words out loud to taste them.

The story is gut wrenching and real, so private and lyrical.
It did remind me of Call Me By Your Name.
Very quick, sad, beautiful read.
Profile Image for Nadia.
270 reviews175 followers
June 18, 2019
Lie With Me is a beautifully written lyrical novel by French author Philippe Besson about a love affair between two 17 year old boys in the 80s. They get together in their final year of school, hiding their relationship and meeting secretly, realising that their love has to stay invisible for the rest of the world. The book is full of exquisite passages expressing the boys' longing, burning love and heartbreak. At 160 pages this is a quick read that I savoured in a day.

"This feeling of love, it transports me, it makes me happy. At the same time, it consumes me and makes me miserable the way all impossible loves are miserable."

Many thanks to Penguin Books UK for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,887 reviews1,923 followers
September 19, 2019
The Publisher Says: The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald.

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

My Review: I've spoken in previous reviews about the power of the (mostly) French art form, the récit, an ill-defined, "you'll know it when you see it" form of literary tale-telling. And all those ambiguous layers of the latter phrase, from straightforward "telling a story" to "tattling on someone" to "inventing a lie" are each present in the récit itself. The qualities I can suss out as being sine qua non for a work to be a récit are length—brevity is the soul of wit, lingerie, and récits—and interiority. Nothing describable as a récit can take place in "real time" or include voices not mediated by the narrator and/or author through a single tightly focused lens. If you've read Camus's The Fall, you've read a peak-experience récit. If you didn't like reading it, I venture to suggest that you not pay a lot of attention to the genre.

Brevity this book has: In 148pp, Besson tells the oldest gay love story there is: Boy meets boy; boy loves boy, is loved by boy; neither one says the right "wrong" thing to his belovèd to make the "forbidden" connection happen; and they go their separate, unequal, always intertwined ways. Interiority it simply is: All the words we read are Philippe's or Philippe's reports of conversations recently or distantly past. Philippe-the-narrator tells us several times that, as a novelist, he makes stuff up; he implies that he's done that habitually; so we're left to our own devices to decide about his honesty, his accuracy, and his intentions in telling us this tale.

I'm going to let you read Philippe-the-author and Philippe-the-narrator's words unmediated by my own commentary on them. In my own way, I want to honor the form of the récit as a review. The book is beautiful for many reasons. Translator Ringwald has made a beautiful thing in this book. I haven't read the French text, but I know enough from previous Besson encounters to believe this is a deft and charming rendering of his original. As to Besson's tale told...well..."is it autobiographical" is the first line of defense against immersion into the unreliability of Memory that this, a beautiful and moving and elegiac récit, invites its readers to experience. I recommend reading it, experiencing it, absorbing its beauties and funnies and rawnesses, without any additional removes from immediacy. Don't, then, place harsh lights on it or look for factual details in it; let it become the limpid waters of Monet's water-lily pond for your inner reader's delight and refreshment.

Chapter One (1984)
I'm not beautiful, but I get attention; that I know. Not because of my appearance, but because of my {good} grades. "He is brilliant," they whisper, "much more advanced than the others, he will go far, like his brother, this family is one to be reckoned with." We are in a place, in a moment, where nearly everyone goes nowhere; it garners me equal parts sympathy and antipathy.
Upstairs, after climbing a makeshift staircase, you would enter a room full of anything and everything. There was even a mattress. It was on this mattress where I rolled around in {his first love}'s embrace for the first time. We had not gone through puberty yet, but we were curious about each other's bodies. His was the first male sex I held in my hand, other than my own. My first kiss was the one he gave me. My first embrace, skin against skin, was with him. ... Today I'm struck by our creativity because at the time, there was no internet, not even videocassettes or cable TV. We had never seen any porn, and yet we still knew how to do it. There are things one knows how to do even as a child. By puberty, we would be even more imaginative. That would come fast
A million questions flash through my mind: How did it begin for him? How and at what age did it reveal itself? How is it that no one can see it on him? Yes, how can it be so undetectable? And then: Is it about suffering? Only suffering? And again: Will I be the first? Or were there others before me? Others who were also secret? And: What does he imagine exactly? I don't ask any of these questions, of course. I follow his lead, accepting the rules of the game.

He says: I know a place.
I discover that absence has a consistency, like the dark water of a river, like oil, some kind of sticky dirty liquid that you can struggle and perhaps drown in. It has a thickness like night, an indefinite space with no landmarks, nothing to bang against, where you search for a light, some small glimmer, something to hang on to and guide you. But absence is, first and foremost, silence. A vast, enveloping silence that weighs you down and puts you in a state where any unforeseeable, unidentifiable sound can make you jump.
He says that for me things are simple, that everything will be fine, that I will get out of it, it's already written, that there's nothing to worry about, the world will greet me with open arms. Whereas for him there's a barrier, an impenetrable wall, forbidding him to deviate from what has been predetermined.

Whenever he mentions this question of the forbidden I will try in vain to show him that he's wrong.
A few weeks later he'll take me for a ride. He'll pick me up at the edge of town, with a helmet this time. I don't know if it's as a precaution, to respect the law, or so that we won't be recognized, but I get on the back of the bike and hold on to him. We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I'm frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I'm holding on to him, that I'm holding on to him outside.
...there is often a staggering intimacy between us, a closeness beyond imagining, but the rest of the time our separateness is absolute. Such schizophrenia could bring even those with the strongest equilibrium to the edge of reason, and let's admit it, I didn't have much equilibrium to begin with.

There is the insanity of not being able to be seen together. An insanity that is aggravated in this case by the unprecedented situation of finding ourselves in the middle of a crowd and having to act like strangers. It seems crazy not to be able to show our happiness. Such an impoverished word. Others have this right, and they exercise it freely. Sharing their happiness makes them even more happy, makes them expand with joy. But we're left stunted, compromised, by the burden of having to always lie and censor ourselves.

This passion that can't be talked about, that has to be concealed, gives way to the terrible question: if it isn't talked about, how can one know that it really exists? One day, when it's over, when it finally comes to an end, no one will be able to attest to what took place.
...I hurry to get what I want before he changes his mind. I take the picture. In it, he's wearing jeans, a plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves. He has the blade of grass between his fingers and he's smiling, a slight, complicit smile, almost tender. This smile devastated me for a long time after, whenever I happened to look at this photograph. It upsets me even now as I write these lines and contemplate the image, resting on my desk, right next to my keyboard. Because now I know. I know that {he} consented to this single picture only because he knew (had decided) that it was our last moment together. He smiled so that I could take his smile with me.

Chapter Two (2007)
I know that there are those who will object to my refusal to accept that he changed course, switched orientation, simply succumbed to a feeling that was previously unknown to him. I could be seen as upset, jealous, or even obtuse, and yet I persist in thinking that he put the same stubborn application into this as he did to his work. The same desire to forget himself, to return to the righteous path set out by his mother, the only one permissible. Does he end up believing it himself? That's the fundamental question. If the answer is yes, then moving forward in life would be possible. If the answer is no, then it is a life condemned to interminable misery.
(I correct myself because I've just been lying. Of course, it took time, a lot of time, before I admitted that everything was lost, before I decided to say goodbye forever. I kept hoping for a sign. I thought of initiating another meeting, I started letters that I never sent. Desire does not go out like a match, it extinguishes slowly as it burns into ash. In the end I gave up on all possibility of a reunion.)
...I live with a man with a man who is fifteen years younger than me and doesn't like boys but loves me. Who knows why? It's a vulnerable relationship, and I will be scared to disturb this precarious equilibrium. Calling {him}, talking to him, asking to see him again, would be anything but innocuous. I cannot say: This is only a phone call. I know it's more than that. Even if I were granted immunity, the act of calling him has the allure of betrayal (we come back to that, always we come back to it) or without going to that extreme, a gesture toward {him} would be a gesture of mistrust toward the man I live with—a decision to put distance between us, to admit to a love that is not enough.

Chapter Three (2016)
In that first moment, when he heard me say that I had seen you, he didn't move, but I swear he lost his balance. At that exact moment I was certain that he had been in love with you. That such a thing had existed—my father in love with a boy. I didn't need to ask him the question. I couldn't have found the courage anyway. Afterward, I said to myself: Maybe it was just a phase. Okay, yes, it existed, but it ended. He moved on to something else—to a life, a woman, a child...that must happen often, these things. I told myself: when he saw you on TV, it brought back the memory, but it was just nostalgia. A secret from the past...everyone has secrets; besides, it's good to have things that belong only to you. I could have stayed there. It should have stayed there. Except that two days after our conversation, my father brought us together to announce he was leaving.
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