Jim Coughenour's Reviews > Exquisite Pain

Exquisite Pain by Sophie Calle
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's review
Feb 13, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: armchairtravel, memoir
Recommended for: connoisseurs of masochism

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I thought I'd mention this exquisitely precious book of prose and photography by Sophie Calle. I enjoyed it, but only as a connoisseur of erudite masochism. Mainly it's the form of the book itself that makes it rewarding – a handsome little hardback by Thames & Hudson with a telephone embossed on its plain gray cover. The red telephone is the leitmotif (comedy or torture?); the chapter headings beg to be mocked: "91 Days to Unhappiness" etc.

If you're the type of reader who enjoys Elena Ferrante, this is your book. I'm not mocking (exactly); I've suffered this raw extreme of unhappiness myself – but it's tricky to translate to the page. In the course of her tale, Calle runs into Hervé Guibert (famous for being the doomed lover of Foucault) – and for me Guibert's book To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life is much more painful. But not as exquisite.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 20, 2005 – Finished Reading
February 13, 2009 – Shelved
February 13, 2009 – Shelved as: armchairtravel
February 13, 2009 – Shelved as: memoir

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Pollopicu (new) - added it

Pollopicu Which book by Elena Ferrante would you recommend to me. The most heart-wrenching please.

message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Coughenour ha! well, I've only read Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment, which is pretty wrenching. And if you're still not sad enough, try Annie Ernaux's Simple Passion. If you want to switch from sad women to sad men, I just read Gerbrand Bakker's The Twin, which I thought was perfectly sad (I wrote a review here). And Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses, another book about abandonment. That's off the top of my bald head. Let me know if you enjoy any of these.

message 3: by Pollopicu (new) - added it

Pollopicu Well thank you very much, bald-headed man :) I added them all to my list.

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