Like Zola | Guy Verville
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Like Zola

Like Zola

For your latest novel, by diving into the first sections, we notice a work on a par with the great NRF publications, that’s for sure, no doubt for me. Without knowing your literary influences, however, I perceive from the outset a style that can easily be measured against Sylvie Germain, Marie Ndiaye or even Éric Fottorino. That’s for style.

For the content, that is to say, where you want to bring emotion, both for us and for the characters, you succeed wonderfully in leading us towards unsuspected trajectories, as if we had everything to learn whereas never can the human being be totally transparent to us. The example I’m going to give you is rather classic, but well, for my part, only Zola masters this art so well (his characters are immersed in wild capitalism while their humanity remains intact).  And this art is transposed in your book with the characters of Diana and her children, since we never manage to easily resolve their feelings towards their parents; they keep their childish and selfish impulses like an Anne Frank for her parents, or the way Nancy Huston treated her childhood in Lignes de faille; However, their adult condition (for the characters in your book) often brings them back to reality by leaving the reader in a pleasant suspense; pleasant since when you read it, you feel something extremely powerful: we trust you. And when this relationship of trust naturally develops between the reader and the author, the reading becomes justified and above all pleasant.        

If I took some time before sharing my appreciations, it was to let the whole question about the treatment of dialogues mature in me; and, as such, your novel allowed me to find some answers in this regard. Dialogue in literature seems delicate to me, since it only directs emotion on the surface. That’s what I realize when I go through several books at random. As in real life, what comes out of our mouths is of no great importance, whereas everything happens in the emotions felt, in our heads. I note that dialogue in literature is perhaps more predominant when it involves an analytical treatment between characters, as Amélie Nothomb uses it, for example. But always, when there are many dialogues, it is very delicate in the construction of knowledge. As for the structure of your novel, I thought a little bit about Tracy Chevalier’s The Lady with the Unicorn; however, for the latter, she treats the dialogues more sparingly and concentrates the action more in the minds of her characters; even though different characters can respond one after the other, but always from the perspective of one (for that, we only have to think of Jonathan Littell in his very famous Les Bienveillantes. But the example of Tracy Chevalier is far better). In your novel, with this construction so that each section has a title, for example “Mother, Children”, it would have been easy to choose this path where the dialogue between the characters would have been generated by the mind of a single character. Finally, the issue is very complex. And if dialogue is so delicate in its treatment, it is because the author must first of all, in my opinion, reflect upstream on the whole epistemological question of his work, since it is there that he decides, as I said earlier, how he will build knowledge. In short, it’s a very, very long subject that we could elaborate further together!

I congratulate you on this last baby; it’s a colossal job, you can feel it, and I admire this courage to publish, very sincerely.

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