Sally Rooney, Pierre Bayard, Hervé Le Tellier… The selection of pocket books of the week

The loving and friendly geometry of the young Irish generation, the questioning of a man in the face of History, the funny and brilliant Goncourt 2020 prize… Like every Friday, our selection of readings in the pocket department.

rNormal people”, by Sally Rooney

We no longer need to introduce Sally Rooney, a thirty-year-old Irishwoman whom two novels on the friendly and amorous geometry of her millennial contemporaries were enough to establish as an authentic phenomenon, and a third of which will appear next September. Exceptional sales, nominations for prizes as prestigious as the Man Booker Prize, multiple translations and television adaptation… So many distinctions which earned the young author to be presented as “a voice of his generation”, to use a famous phrase from Lena Dunham, the actress and screenwriter of the television series Girls, to which it is often compared.

Like his first opus, Conversations between friends (2017), Normal People explores the springs of the relational intimacy of young adults. She is a great loner with a singular intelligence, daughter of a bourgeois family where love has long since vanished. He, a very good student and popular hero of the football team, is the only son of a single housekeeper. By alternately adopting the point of view of each, Sally Rooney describes with a language whose almost surgical precision makes the value of the novel, the emotional variations of her characters. Read more
Edition Points, €12.50

r “Would I have been resistant?”, by Pierre Bayard

what would have happened “if I had been born like my father in January 1922 and found myself immersed like him in the turmoil of History” ? It is in his own name that the writer and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard tries to answer the question which gives its title to this beautiful essay, where demonstration mingles with meditation. It is a fictitious double of itself, a “delegate person”, that Pierre Bayard decides to send on a mission to the past. Attempting to presume his choices and actions based both on experimental psychological studies and on the fate of his own father, but also by turning his gaze in turn to heroes, adventurers or ordinary men, who, placed in situations of violent crisis and terror, had to make a choice: between obedience or refusal, security and risk, good and evil. Read more
Ed. Midnight double, €8.50


r “The Anomaly”, by Hervé Le Tellier

Be wary of members of the Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle). They are capable of carrying out strange experiments, and willingly take side roads while murmuring octosyllables. Take Hervé Le Tellier. This lover of constraints, ex-astrophysicist, devotes himself to short text (Mona Lisa up to a hundred, 1998), won the Grand Prix for black humor with his Liquid Tales (2013), to return today to a stocky novel with The anomaly, a brilliant, funny and disconcerting work, Prix Goncourt 2020. It starts off like a thriller by Mickey Spillane, with a contract killer with multiple identities. Then it feels like a television series with a gallery of characters gathered on Air France flight 006 where Captain Markle screams “Mayday, Mayday” fidgeting with his out of order instruments. But Hervé Le Tellier is not rewriting The wings of hell, nor to consider new episodes of Lost : he takes the pretext of a calamitous Paris-New York to reshuffle the cards of life. Read more
Ed. Folio, €8.70

rThe Night Wood, by Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes claimed to be “the most famous unknown of the century”. Her century, in this case, was the 20th, which she crossed from one end to the other, or almost – born in 1892 near New York, died nine decades later in the room of Greenwich Village where she lived alone for nearly forty years. 1892-1982: between these two dates, a life too often summed up in a few photographs – admirable, of course – by Berenice Abbott. The two Americans rubbed shoulders in Paris, where they lived during the interwar period, satellites of the cosmopolitan intellectual and artistic community gathered around Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Beach. The icon of those years, of this brilliant, non-conformist and bohemian world, is what Djuna Barnes has become. The reissue of night wood (1936) is a useful reminder that the one who was a great reader and a friend of Joyce was also, above all, a writer. Read more
Ed. Dots, €8.40

rThe Streets of Laredo”, by Larry MacMurtry

Deceased in March 2021, McMurtry, put his pen to the service of the image, through thirty scenarios, including adaptations of his novels on television (Lonesome Dove) or at the cinema (Hud, The Last Session, Texasville…) and above all, that of Secret of Brokeback Mountain, co-written with his accomplice Diana Ossana from a short story by Annie Proulx, which won them an Oscar. I remember seeing Larry McMurtry’s name appear in the credits during the screening of this film. But above all he recalled to my good memory at my bookseller who had placed at the head of the gondola the very recent French translation of Streets of Laredo, the final episode of Lonesome Dove. Frightened at having been unaware of the existence of such a sum, I hastened to acquire the complete, magnificent western fresco in five eras, . Since then, I have not left the chatterbox-seducer-literate Gus MacRae and the misogynist-gruff-depressive Woodrow Call, an accomplice duo of Texas Rangers whose wanderings, as cruel as they are incredible, will have somewhat reduced the weight of this covid period. Read more
Edition Totem, €13.80

We would like to say thanks to the author of this short article for this remarkable content

Sally Rooney, Pierre Bayard, Hervé Le Tellier… The selection of pocket books of the week