Post by kerouac2 on Jun 22, 2017 14:53:32 GMT
Virginie Despentes started her career as an extemely controversial author, but her background makes it quite easy to understand. She was put in a psychiatric hospital for 2 months at age 15 and was permanently removed from school when it was decided that there was no way to “fix” her, even though she had been elected class representative numerous times before this incident. When she was released, she wandered around France for a couple of years and was arrested multiple times. At age 17 when she was hitchhiking back from a trip to London, she was raped. She told psychotherapists after this event “it wasn’t a big deal” but 20 years later she admitted that it was the event that made her who she is today.
She worked as a maid, and then as a massage parlour prostitute, followed by rock journalist and then as a critic for pornographic movies. At age 35, she decided that she was a lesbian.
Anyway, she finally wrote her first novel in 1992 – Baise-moi. This both shocked and delighted the literary establishment. It is an extremely graphic story of two lesbian revenge killers. The English translation is called Rape Me, but the actual correct translation of the title would be Fuck Me, which is not the sort of thing that you can display in most bookstores in the English speaking world.
After that first best selling sensation, her later works became much calmer, and she has won numerous literary prizes for other novels. In fact, now she is a member of the Goncourt academy, which is the body that awards the top literary prize of the year in France.
I am bringing her up because of her latest work – a trilogy called Vernon Subutex. Volume 3 just came out, and I haven’t even finished it yet, but it is a remarkable set of books, particularly for anybody interested in modern day France and more particularly Paris. The protagonist is a record store owner who goes out of business. A number of friends help him, but they get tired of him pretty fast and he ends up homeless, living in the Buttes Chaumont park. However, he has something that a lot of people want – autobiographical tapes made by a rock star friend of his who died at the height of his glory.
Some of his former contacts find him – some being authentic friends and others being treasure hunters. But he becomes sort of a guru of the Buttes Chaumont with dozens of people gathering to drink and smoke dope just to be with him. He retains the “freedom” of being homeless, even though lots of people now want to help him. At the same time, all sorts of real world contemporary events are happening, including the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres. I can’t wait to see how it ends, but in any case all of the reviews have said that the ending does not disappoint.
I don’t think the English translation has been released yet anywhere, but I’m sure that it will before long. It is also being adapted as a mini series for television.
Something to look forward to, if you’re adventurous…