More on Amelie Nothomb, and this week Metaphysique des Tubes or for the rest of us translated as The Character of Rain. My French must be pretty rusty, I'd put money on Metaphysics of Tubes.Wonder how Brillant Comme Une Casserole translates?
Plus I've been doing a bit of background reading on Amelie herself.
At 39 she's older than I had realised, has written over 50 books but only allowed about 20 to be published. This from the Complete Review suggests there is something of a love-hate thing going on and probably the inevitable jealousies that a meteoric rise to star status can incur, sadly you're there to be shot down by one and all, not that I would know you understand.
"The somewhat contentious cult-figure she has become in the Francophone area, a precocious, popular, and telegenic literary star, damned by (some) critics, adored by her public."
I must hastily add this is out of context in the Complete Review big picture as they adore Amelie's writing and after two books I have to confess so do I.
The Character of Rain, a variation on stream of consciousness and the first 3 years in a child's life and another writer firmly touching base with their inner child. The first two years are a memory-less blur of life as a tube, in one end out the other, don't give up at this point even though you may want to, because suddenly Nothomb cleverly delineates the dawning of consciousness and language as the child's world opens up, but very much at their own behest.The acquisition of language is perfectly detailed as is the assumption by the adults that they know what the child is thinking.We've all borne the brunt of the power of the toddler but to see it reflected from the mind of this little person is quite a revelation.They really do feel invincible and godlike in their world, fears are real, obsessions plentiful and often impossible to explain and Amelie Nothomb captures it all simply and,I'm sorry but I have to say it, exquisitely.
A working lifetime spent doing development checks on 2 year olds and she has given me a rare insight into the mysterious workings of their minds that makes complete sense.And just look at that little rascal on the cover, you'll know her well by the end of the book, her face says it all.
In fact Amelie Nothomb really does pull this one off with ease so now I'm starting to worry.The higher the rise the further the fall could be and I desperately don't want it to happen.Let's see about The Book of Proper Names . Craftyperson is hooked too, read how the family starved and gnawed on chair legs while she sat and read Antichrista.Et mon dieu, maintenant elle est reading un livre par Amelie dans French par ce que it is n'est pas available dans English yet.
Meanwhile I'm sure I probably agree with this...at least I think I do. Mrs Mitchell's O Level French lessons circa 1969, she always said I should pay more attention.
"L'inaltérable succès d'Amélie Nothomb prouve qu'elle a eu raison de naître Dieu et de s'inventer écrivain. Comme les carpes insatiables du jardin japonais, nous avalons ses mensonges avec délice." - Hugo Marsan, Le Monde (1/9/2000)