The Mystery Guest: An Accountby Grégoire Bouillier
When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling—not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd… See more details below
When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling—not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd never met.
This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart, learned to love again, stopped wearing turtlenecks, regained his faith in literature, participated in a work of performance art by mistake, and spent his rent money on a bottle of 1964 bordeaux that nobody ever drank. The Mystery Guest is, in the words of L'Humanité, a work of "fiendish wit and refinement." It pushes the conventions of autobiography (and those great themes of French literature: love and aging) to an absurd, poignant, and very funny conclusion. This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 1 MB
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from The Mystery Guest by Grégoire Bouillier. Copyright © 2006 by Grégoire Bouillier. Published in August 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
It was the day Michel Leiris died. This would have been late September 1990, or maybe the very beginning of October, the date escapes me (whatever it was I can always look it up later on); in any case it was a Sunday, because I was home in the middle of the afternoon, and it was cold out, and I'd gone to sleep in all my clothes, wrapped up in a blanket, the way I generally did when I was home by myself. Cold and oblivion were all I was looking for at the time, but this didn't worry me. Sooner or later, I knew, I'd rejoin the world of the living. Just not yet. I felt I had seen enough. Beings, things, landscapes…I had enough to last me for the next two hundred years and saw no reason to go hunting for new material. I didn't want any more trouble.
* * *
I woke to the ringing of the phone. Darkness had fallen in the room. When I picked up I knew it was her. Even before I was conscious of knowing, I knew. It was her voice, her breath, it was practically her face, and along with her face came a thousand moments of happiness rising from the past, gilded with sunlight, caressing my own face and licking at my fingers while a thousand more like them swung at the other end of a wire.
* * *
I sat up in bed, heart pounding in my chest. I actually heard this going on, this unnatural pounding, as if my heart were electrified. I heard it thudding in every corner of the room--and this was no illusion, I wasn't dreaming, there wasn't any question of its being anyone but her. The senses don't lie, unlikely as it was to be hearing her voice now, after all the years I'd never heard from her, ever, not once. How appropriate flashed through my mind. And on the exact same day Michel Leiris died was my next thought, and the coincidence struck me as so outlandish it was all I could do to keep from laughing. I felt as if I'd tapped in to the inner hilarity of things, or else brushed up against a truth so over-whelming only a fit of hysterics could keep it at bay; but maybe it wasn't a coincidence at all. Maybe she wouldn't have called, it occurred to me, if Michel Leiris hadn't died. Of course that's what had happened: she'd heard about Michel Leiris and somehow the fact of his disappearance had made her reappear. However obscurely the one fact figured in the other, I sensed a connection. The significance of a dream, we're told, has less to do with its overt drama than with the details; a long time ago it struck me that the same was true of real life, of what passes among us for real life.
* * *
But this was no time for a philosophical discussion, and besides, I wasn't in any shape to bandy wits. I could hear how soft and gummy my voice was, how drowsy-sounding, and without even giving it any thought I realized that she must under no circumstance be allowed to know she'd woken me up. That was crucial, even if it meant sounding cold and detached--and why on earth did she have to call, not just on the very same day Michel Leiris had died but when I was fast asleep and at my most vulnerable, my least up to answering the phone, when in a word I was completely incapable
Meet the Author
Grégoire Bouillier's first book, Rapport sur moi, received the 2002 Prix de Flore for an author of outstanding promise. The Mystery Guest (L'invité mystère) is his second book. He lives in Paris.
Grégoire Bouillier’s first book, Rapport sur moi, received the 2002 Prix de Flore for an author of outstanding promise. The Mystery Guest (L’invité mystère) is his second book. He lives in Paris.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >