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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781910477502
Publisher: Gallic Books Limited
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,273,458
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sébastien Japrisot was a prominent French author, screenwriter and film director, and the French translator of J. D. Salinger. He is best known for A Very Long Engagement, which won the Prix Interallié and was made into a film by Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. One Deadly Summer won the Prix Deux Magots in 1978 and the film adaptation starring Isabelle Adjani won the César Award 1984. Born in Marseille in 1931, he died in 2003.

Read an Excerpt

I said O.K.
I generally agree to things. Anyway, I did with Elle. I slapped her once, and once I beat her. But apart from that, she usually had her own way. I’m not too sure what I’m going on about. I find it hard to talk to people, except to my brothers, especially Michel. We call him Mickey. He carts wood around in an old Renault truck. He drives too fast. He’s as dense as shit.
I watched him once driving down into the valley, on the road that follows the river. It’s all twists and turns and sudden drops, and the road is hardly wide enough for one car. I watched him from high up, standing among the fir trees. I could follow him for several kilometers, a small yellow dot, disappearing and reappearing at each corner. I could even hear his engine, and the lumber bouncing up and down with every bump. He painted his truck yellow when Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France for the fourth time. It was on a bet. He couldn’t even say hi, how are things, without talking about Eddy Merckx. I don’t know who he gets his brains from.
Dad thought Fausto Coppi was the greatest. When Coppi died, he grew a mustache as a sign of mourning. For a whole day he said nothing, just sat on an old acacia stump in the snow-covered yard, smoking his American tobacco, which he rolled into cigarettes himself. He went around collecting butts, only American ones, mind you, and he rolled cigarettes the likes of which you’ve never seen. He was quite a character, our father. He’s supposed to have come from southern Italy, on foot, pulling his player piano behind him. When he came to a village or town he’d stop in the square and get people dancing. He wanted to go to America. They all want to go to America, the Ritals. In the end he stayed, because he didn’t have the money for a ticket. He married our mother, who was named Desrameaux and came from Digne. She worked in a laundry and he did odd jobs on farms, but he earned practically nothing, and of course you can’t go to America on foot.
Then they took in my mother’s sister. She’s been deaf since the bombing of Marseille, in May 1944, and she sleeps with her eyes open. In the evening, when she sits in her chair, we never know whether she’s asleep or not. We all call her Cognata, which means sister-in-law, except our mother, who calls her Nine. She’s sixty-eight, twelve years older than Mamma, but Mamma looks the older of the two. All she does is doze in her chair. She gets up only if there’s a funeral. She’s buried her husband, her brother, her mother, her father, and our father, when he died in 1964. Mamma says she’ll bury us all.
We’ve still got the player piano. It’s in the barn. For years we left it out in the yard, and the rain blackened and blistered it. Now it’s the dormice. I rubbed it with rat poison, but that didn’t work. It’s riddled with holes. At night, when a dormouse gets inside, we’re treated to quite a serenade. It still works. Unfortunately, there’s only one roll left, “Roses of Picardy.” Mamma says it couldn’t play anything else anyway—it’s got too used to that tune. She says Dad once dragged it all the way to the town to pawn it. They wouldn’t take it. What’s more, the road into town is downhill all the way, but the return journey . . . Dad was exhausted—he already had a weak heart. He had to pay a truck driver to bring the piano back. Yes, Father was a businessman, all right.
The day he died, Mamma said that one day, when my other brother, Boo-Boo, was grown up, we would show them. All three of us boys would set ourselves up with the piano, in front of the Crédit Municipal, the bank in town, and play “Roses of Picardy” all day. We’d drive everybody crazy. But we never did it. He’s seventeen now, Boo-Boo, and last year he told me to put the piano in the barn. I’ll be thirty-one in November.
When I was born Mamma wanted to call me Baptistin, after her brother, Baptistin Desrameaux, who drowned in a canal trying to save someone. She always says if we see anyone drowning we are to look the other way. When I became a volunteer fireman, she got so mad at me she kicked my helmet around the room. She kicked it so hard she hurt her foot. Anyway, Dad persuaded her to call me Fiorimondo, after his brother—at least he died in his bed.
Fiorimondo Montecciari—that’s what’s written in the town hall and on my papers. But then war broke out, and Italy was on the other side, and it didn’t look right. So they called me Florimond. Anyway, my name’s never done me any good. At school, in the army, anywhere. Mind you, Baptistin would have been worse. I’d like to have been called Robert. I often said I was called Robert. That’s what I told Elle at first. Just to top it off, when I became a volunteer fireman they started to call me Ping-Pong—even my brothers. I got into a fight over it once—the only time in my life—and everyone went around saying I was violent. I’m not violent, or anything like that. In fact, it was about something else.

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