25 May 2015

Nadine Bismuth: Les Gens fidèles ne font pas les nouvelles (2001)

Nadine Bismuth's Les Gens fidèles ne font pas les nouvelles (lit. 'Faithful People Don't Make News') is a collection of short stories with the theme of infidelity running through it, but all kinds of infidelity: this is not a repetitious book, but one that experiments with numerous areas of its subject.

In 'Un secret bien gardé' (lit. 'A Well Kept Secret') the title is that of a book that the narrator Élise – a cleaning woman in a huge office block – is reading. It's about a woman who falls in love with her psychologist, and has a secret affair with him. Just as Élise has an affair with M. Séquin in the office block, and whose funeral she anonymously attends. When Mme Séquin asks the name of the unknown mourner, Élise says she was Séquin's psychologist, and that the nature of her client's problems must be kept secret for professional reasons.

And so the stories continue: a bride disappearing for a short time; a hotel worker discovering that his fellow worker and lover is nowhere near as faithful as he believes; a ten-year-old boy stuck on a girl who quickly turns his attentions to another girl who has the hots for him; etc, etc, infidelity and/or jealousy, situations real or imagined. And at the end a faithful couple in which the husband reads news items of unfaithfulness and his wife goes a little crazy: but not enough to be newsworthy. Highly readable all the same.

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