3 March 2011

Frédéric Beigbeder: Mémoires d'un Jeune Homme Dérangé (1990)

Mémoires d'un jeune homme dérangé ('Memoirs of a Deranged Young Man') (1990) was Frédéric Beigbeder's first novel, and the first part of the 'Marc Marronnier' trilogy, the other two being Vacances dans le coma ('Holidays in a Coma') (1994) and L'amour dure trois ans ('Love Lasts Three Years') (1997), and Beigbeder is a kind of younger, hirsute, upmarket, dandyish, tormented version of Will Self when he was his former self.

The novel is a pun on Simone de Beauvoir's Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée (Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958)). The book is full of puns, and this is by no means the only literary pun: for instance, one section is called 'Les paradis superficiels' after Baudelaire's Les paradis artificiels, and another 'Jours tranquilles à Neuilly' after Henry Miller's Jours tranquilles à Clichy.

The following two paragraphs give a good idea of the content:

'One evening, Jean-Georges and I were watching television. There was a program about alcoholism. A writer was talking about the ravages that alcohol had brought to his life: his wife had left him, his talent too.

'"How many ice cubes in your scotch?" Jean-George asked me.'

Jean-Georges is Marc's friend, a person with whom, until near the end of the book, he shares his clubbing, drinking, drug-taking, and generally crazy lifestyle of the dissolute of the twentysomethings who are surviving on daddy's money, a world of frequent international travel to attend alcohol- and drug-fueled functions, where pop cultural references and brand names are strewn all over the place.

But Marc leaves Victoire, the girl with the multi-millionaire father, for Anne, with whom he finds complete bliss: it's a joy just to be with her, no longer to go out, and he'll never want to take up with another woman as Anne is so many different women at different times of the day - who could ask for anything more?

Until the day when Marc walks into the kitchen and – for no apparent reason – shoots her dead. So he really is deranged.

Oh, no, wait a minute, that's completely false! They really will live an eternally happy existence, and have lots of children, etc. Oh, that's OK then! But is it? Isn't that a really bizarre joke to have made? And we know he's bought a gun, and he says he killed his cat with it, or was that a sick joke too?

Maybe the next two books in the trilogy will reveal more. Maybe.

Below is a link to another Beigbeder book review of mine:

Frédéric Beigbeder: 99 Francs

Frédéric Beigbeder: Premier bilan après l'apocalypse
Frédéric Beigbeder: Un roman français
Frédéric Beigbeder: L'Amour dure trois ans | Love Lasts Three Years
Frédéric Beigbeder: Vacances dans le coma

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