MAKING LOVE by jean-philippe toussaint

your poor fabulously wealthy man of leisure slash hipster is nursing a dying love affair while his highly sensitive instrument notes, in languorous and voluptuous detail, the grime and dazzle of his worldly world.

We took shelter inside for a moment, passing abruptly from the bluish gloom of the night to the violent and timeless white blaze of overhead fluorescent lights. I glanced casually at the only two clients in the store, a young man in an orange turtleneck and a small rasta cap who was leafing through a magazine in front of the newspaper rack, and a salaryman of indeterminate age, with wet shoes and a damp forehead, who was doubtfully considering the almost empty shelves in the refrigerated section, occasionally selecting some plastic-wrapped tray filled with stringy black seaweed or sliced mushrooms, bringing it closer to his eyes and raising his glasses to read something on the label, the product’s packaging date or place of origin, then replacing the plastic tray where he had found it. Marie was in front of the baked goods shelf, looking rather apathetically at the packages of cookies, moving arbitrarily from one shelf to another, lingering at the displays of instant soups and colorful cellophane bags of noodles. She carried her damp coat in the crook of one arm, and wearing her sunglasses again because of the excessive glare in the store, she strolled, yawning, by the shelves, watched indifferently by the dejected cashiers, who followed the nonchalant progress of her splendid starry-night silhouette sailing up and down vacant aisles (47).

as satirical of the decadent consumerist life as DEMONLOVER or LOST IN TRANSLATION or ENTER THE VOID, that is: barely or not at all…

but even if the trite subject is only mitigated slightly and rather shamelessly with a thin glaze of self awareness, toussaint transcends the shallowness with his sumptuous, gloriously paced, and perfectly elegant style. he’s at some of his best here; MAKING LOVE was a bestseller in france and the first of his, by The New Press, to be translated into english. rarer to find than the dalkey archive translations but if you’re a fan absolutely worth the tracking down.

buy it from the publisher or find it in the library or from an independent bookstore.

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