5 September 2019

Adrien Bosc: Constellation (2009)

The word 'Constellation' doesn't only refer a group of neighbouring stars, but (particularly in Adrien Bosc's book) also to the Lockheed Constellation aircraft, one of which crashed on a mountainside on the island of São Miguel in the Azores on a Paris-New York Air France flight on 28 October 1949, and which killed 37 passengers and 11 crew members. Among the dead (who might be called 'stars') were middleweight boxing champion Marcel Cerdan (the lover of Édith Piaf) and the brilliant violinist Ginette Neveu.

Obsessively, Adrien Bosc 'revisits' the scene of the crash, the Redondo mountain, and the lives of those killed in the tragedy, all of whom he lists and tries to obtain as much information as possible about: for instance, he reproduces the words of Dr Robert Aaron Lowenstein, whose father Robert Lowenstein was in the plane on his way to attempt a reconciliation with his wife.

But then, this is a 'roman', and parts are imaginary reconstructions. All the same, I was fascinated to learn about early flight registers. Now, we have black boxes, although formerly there were Hussenographs, named after François Hussenot (1912-51), the French engineer who invented the precursor to the black boxes. In this case though, the Hussenograph (which could only photograph and not take recordings of sounds) was not used. This is a very interesting read.

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