14 September 2017

Dominique Fabre: Photos Volées (2014)

Dominique Fabre writes in an original way: sentences are left unfinished, there's no obvious structure to the book apart from being divided into many sections, the narrator frequently says 'Nous ne sommes pas nés de la dernière pluie' ('We weren't born yesterday'), there's a great deal of rambling and navel-gazing, dialogue often merges with the narration, the present merges with the future, and yet it works: it all seems so natural, written as thought, observations (sometimes slightly absurd) spring forth as casually and as life-like as if the reader can imagine being the protagonist himself.

The narrator here is Jean, who at the age of fifty-eight is fired from his insurance job because he's too old, costs the firm too much, and is left on the scrapheap, even though, in order to continue receiving unemployment benefit, he's forced to attend meaningless courses via Pôle emploi. He learns to sit in cafés over a beer, makes friends with someone who attended a stupid course with him, and looks at old photographs.

Before going into insurance, Jean was a freelance photographer, and taking photos remains something of a hobby for him: through old photos, he can link the past with the present, reminisce and contemplate about the ageing process, mull over past relationships he had with women, some of whom he's still in contact with on a platonic basis: he's old now, of course, wasn't born yesterday, and it's two, then three years since he last had sex.

Then along comes Hélène, and he's known a few Hélènes in his life. That was his wife's name. He even managed to have sex with the new Hélène, and maybe there's hope for the future. Maybe there's hope for him making himself known as a photographer even. We're left guessing, there are no happy-ever-afters, as life's not like that is it? No, but I'd like to read some more of this writer.

My other Dominique Fabre post:

Dominique Fabre: Fantômes

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