21 January 2018

Marie Darrieussecq: Truismes | Pig Tales (1996)

The title Truismes has a double meaning: on the one hand truisms, on the other, er, 'sowisms', or what comes from female pigs. This book was a huge popular and critical success, and launched the literary career of the twenty-seven-year-old academic. The English title Pig Tales obviously doesn't quite translate the original title, but at least it makes a pun and suggests female concern in the homophonic 'pigtails'.

Truismes is about a woman who turns into a pig. There's evidently more to it than that, although that sums up the basic story. It's a kind of fairy story sometimes of the horror type, but it's very amusing at the same time. A story then of metamorphosis, although (contrary to what some critics suggested) Darrieussecq didn't have Ovid or Kafka in mind, nothing of the metamorphoses that we could mention throughout literary history.

Everyone has interpreted the narrative as they find fit, and social satire has been found by those who looked, although Darrieussecq intended it more as the story of a woman's body. A Basque magazine (from the region where Darrieussecq originates) just to mention Basque porcine culture in a review.

The protagonist graphically describes an F1 AccorHotel (although not mentioned as such) somewhere close to the périphérique near Issy-les-Moulineaux, and there may well have been or is still one there. She also speaks in polite familiar language, with frequent use of such expressions as 'pour ainsi dire' and 'comme qui dirait', both synonymous here with 'like' rather than the more artificial 'so to speak' or 'as it were'. Now, I'm familiar with Issy-les-Moulineaux, but when the narrator began to speak of coming from a crumby HLM in Garenne-le-Mouillé (suggesting something like a wet rabbit warren), I wasn't at all surprised to find that the only references to such a place on Google (just five) are to Truismes.

Truismes, as I've said, is a kind of fairy story, but of course the main fairy story is Marie Darrieussecq's sudden phenomenal success that this story brought her. This is one of those books that you can read several times and still get pleasure from.

My other Marie Darrieussecq posts:
Marie Darrieussecq: Tom est mort | Tom Is Dead
Marie Darrieussecq: Naissance des fantômes | My Phantom Husband

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