La Carte et le Territoire – How I found my present

Wednesday 8th September

There I go singing out loud on my bicycle chasing after the new Michel Houellebecq’s novel, coming out today in France, but here ?, so that tomorrow I can treat myself with a day of pure lecture, because 9/9, day of my birthday.
The local main shop, Dussmann, informs me with a typical German courtesy, that it is not in their house that I will find what I am seeking for.
Really really disappointed, I decide to go a little bit further, to the Galeries Lafayettes, where one can find in the labyrinthine lower ground floor slightly beyond the Poilâne bread and the macarons a space “Librairie Française”.
The bookseller welcomes me straight on with a French Bonjour, and a conversation starts on the subject.

The boxes sent by the publisher will not be there before the end of the week.
This is really annoying.
It is my birthday tomorrow.
I knew him a bit, Michel Houellebecq.
Ah, I have been told he takes a shower only once a week.
Some great writers were really dirty, I’ll say even stinking ; when I was working at the Opera Garnier’s library I could see pictures, the white collar Bam a bit of white chalk and there you go ; the hands filthy.

We already read it, the novel, it is not so bad, [Is it funny ? I want/need it to be funny], we received our copy last week.
Ah, couldn’t I buy it from you, your copy ?
Ben, my colleague has it.
Couldn’t I buy it from her tomorrow, the copy ?
She went sick for a week.
Ah… Oui, ah bon so if she is sick…

When you are writing you are sensitive to your own web of associations. Sometimes you hear this in somebody else, who moves you totally.

“And the neck soaking in the fresh blue watercress”.
“The fresh blue watercress”, this one was really good.
Rimbaud, he’s worth particularly for his lightning sentences, you need just one and it turns a whole poem, from boredom we switch abruptly  to the sublime. Take Les Ponts : “A white ray, falling from the height of the sky, wipes out this sham”. The poem got off to a bad start but he finished it off, and how !

I reckon Houellebecq’s success in Germany is because of his translator. He made him popular in the left radical circles, unlike France, by translating for example in Extension du Domaine de la Lutte that psychoanalysis made you antisocial ; while his character doesn’t say this, he says that psychoanalysis makes you unable to love.
Yeah no but what’s more is that psychoanalysis socialise on the contrary.

Do you work ?
Psychoanalysis turned me into an antisocial.

When I listen to some Bach’s Cantatas I burst into tears. I keep them for the cold weathers of course.

Do you play music yourself ? So, shall we call my colleague ? She plays the bass.

Salut Poulette, you’re in bed ? I’m here with a client, quite peculiar, but nice, who would want to buy you our Houellebecq’s copy because tomorrow’s her birthday, you’re through with it ? OK, I send her to you.

She is ill, I will bring her some organic beetroot juice.

Out on the Mehringdamm supermarket’s parking where my fellow bike rests, I see a very big absolutely pink bicycle that I know well. My friend came for lunch to my place today, and now she is shopping while I am heading flat out for the Schöneberg’s neighbourhood with beetroot juice in my saddlebags on the tracks of my novel.
Her daughter’s backpack stayed in the front pannier. I slide a note in it : it’s Alice in Wunderland today, and more with her pink bicycle, a bicycle so quickly unmistakable like this makes you want to have it too. All this in a city eight times bigger than inner Paris.
I am pedalling, heart as a lark, I am passing a very harmonious group of four young men with very long hair, curly, chestnut, similar beards, carrying instruments.

Haupstrasse, twenty minutes of cycling later. Slightly sweating I ring at the door.
It opens, she comes down with my novel.

… You play the bass we tinker about we improvise we cannot play we change we exchange instruments or we sing the other day I played the drums I was very happy with the result we have a myspace website maybe you’re interested in playing with us we would like it yeah could be nice definitely I like minimalist musics the bass in my former band people were saying it sounded like Joy Division we rehearse from time to time we record and the guitar yeah I like the guitar sounds the problem is the guitarists yeah for sure the problem it’s the guitarists Biung Biung with their solos well some seem to like it…

She holds out my present to me, saying “Happy birthday”.

The 9/9, La Carte et le Territoire, will probably proved to be disappointing. But I celebrated it today, earlier instead than/of tomorrow.
Ah : Tomorrows… !


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