11 October 2017

Jean Echenoz: Je m'en vais | I'm Off | I'm Gone (revisited) (1999)

Many books aren't worth reading, let alone worth reading more than once. Jean Echenoz's books, however, well deserve to be re-read, perhaps especially his Goncourt-winning Je m'en vais. Having previously written about this novel, what else can I say? Well, I wasn't specific about the end, and I have no qualms about spoilers, so why not just have my say?

Je m'en vais (variously translated as I'm Off or I'm Gone), as I wrote before, is about art gallery owner Félix Ferrer going to the North Pole on the advice of his head (and soon dead) employee Delahaye (but incidentally against the advice of his doctor who is aware of his heart condition), bringing back highly valuable Inuit art treasures from a wrecked ship in the 1950s, and a certain Baumgartner stealing the treasure from him. As I explained in the previous post, Baumgartner wasn't Baumgartner and Echenoz was playing games.

No, Baumgartner was Delahaye, who obviously hadn't died at all. So a joint investigation by the French and Spanish cops lead to Félix tracking Delahaye down, discovering that he has (illegally but officially) changed his name to Baumgartner, and Félix very generously leaves his ex-employee with a little less than a third of the proceeds and he (Baumgartner, let's call him) gets on with his life while he (Félix) can get on with his. What little life Félix has, of course, after his latest girlfriend decides she's probably dumping him, sadly leaving him with no friends on New Year's Eve, travelling a virtually empty métro, and entering (with intent to soon leave) his ex-wife's home (which used to be his own and his wife's) but now is his ex-wife's and her new partner's. The novel begins and ends  with the same words: 'je m'en vais'. Of course, Finnegan's Wake this certainly isn't,  but it's still a very interesting read.

My other Jean Echenoz posts:
Jean Echenoz: Jean Echenoz: Jérôme Lindon
Jean Echenoz: Lac | Chopin's Move
Jean Echenoz: Je m'en vais | I'm Off | I'm Gone
Jean Echenoz: Courir | Running
Jean Echenoz: Ravel
Jean Echenoz: 14

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