Vernon Subutex 1 By Virginie Despentes

 

Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Depsentes

French fiction

Original title – Vernon Subutex

Translator – Frank Wynne

Source – Review copy

Well I am pleased that Frank is the first person to have books from two languages he has translated on the short list he also translated from Spanish The imposter also on the Man Booker longlist.As far as I can see looking back this is a first for the prize even going back through the IFFP years. He won the Old IFFP with his transition ofWindows of the world in 2005. Anyway back to this book and the writer is well known as well she wrote her first book Baise Moi in 1999 which she also made into a film. Virginie has written a number of novels since then this is the first of a trilogy. She also worked as a rock journalist at about the time this novel starts.

Vernon had just had enough time to rediscover his love of a long lie in – for more than twenty years, come hell or hideous hangover he has rolled up the metal shutters on the shop six days a week no matter what. Only three times in twenty five years, had he entrusted the keys to one of his colleagues: a bout of gastric flu, adental implant fitting and an attack of sciatica it took him a year to relearn the knack of lazing in bed and reading in the mornings. It felt like it .

Vernin starts slacking after his shop revolver closes down.

The book follows the downward spiral of Vernon Subutex. He was once the owner of the most well-known record shop in Paris.A man that like Joe from empire records one of the great films from the gen x years a man people wanted be and has a magnetism for women.  His story is maybe a reflection of the music industry in a way. But also a thesis on Generation X. He finds he in the early 2000’s is without a shop and had been helped by a friend Alexandre a heavy drug user from his past.Is his help  to get by with rent and his daily life but when the friend dies he has to go round visiting old friends and spends time sofa surfing one of those homeless people that avoid being homeless till they have run out of them this is what we see with Vernon a man alone in the world after all his dreams have fallen spend time with old friends from an ex-lover that has a sterlie flat , a wife beating husband who he never really knew as he falls through these peoples lives we see a mryiadof the city of paris what happened to the hipsters when they aren’t hipsters anymore.

Friends are diffeerent. Spending years together listening to records, going to gigs, arguing about bands, these are sacred bonds, You don’t stop seeing each other simply because of a change of venue. But what had changed was that he had to call and arrange to meet, whereas before they could just come into the shop if they were in the neighbourhood.He was not in the habit of organising dinner parties, trips to the cinema.

I was remind in these lines of John Cusack character in High fidelity Vernon friends are shop friends.

This is a searing knife through the social lives of a generation cutting into the gen x lives and what has happened to them it is like a Parisian version of the slacker film as we follow Vernon going through those who moved up and down through those years as he had met them when he was hip. He is also a story of how music has suffered record shops where the hiding meeting and place to be seen a generation ago for me when I was young it was a shop called beat route  alas like Vernon shop it is no more as music is online these days the other thread is the last recordings he has of his friend and benefactor Alex Bleach a well-known star. I can’t wait for part two to see where it takes us with Vernon and like one of those classic works of French lit by Balzac or Zola more about how modern Paris treats those on the downward spiral. Which for me is always far more interesting than a rise from the bottom to the top what about you?Also, this is one of the most eye-catching covers in the last year I think also slightly disturbing.

 

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarinaSofia
    Mar 13, 2018 @ 21:45:49

    It seems to be doing well in the UK, which I find surprising, as a lot of my French friends said it was too much focused on the French publishing world and cultural elites and would not be widely appreciated.

    Reply

  2. Michael @ Knowledge Lost
    Mar 14, 2018 @ 06:59:25

    This book look far more interesting than the last Virginie Depsentes book I read. I had dismissed her as a writing for me far too early it seems, will have to give her another go with this one.

    Reply

  3. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis
    Mar 15, 2018 @ 18:27:53

    A couple of decades ago, my brother was seconded from the bank to work for six months with the United Way. It had a profound effect on him: he always said we are all (any one of us) just a stroke of bad luck away from living on the streets. I’m reminded of that considering the ‘downward spiral of Vernon Subutex’.

    This book sounds very intriguing.

    Reply

  4. 1streading
    Mar 17, 2018 @ 20:14:22

    I liked this much more that I thought I would – it has a wonderful sense of disillusionment (Balzac’s Lost Illusions? – one I haven’t read). I also love the cover (which I think was the French cover?)

    Reply

  5. Annabel (gaskella)
    Mar 21, 2018 @ 08:00:13

    This is the only book I’ve read off the longlist but I loved it (it made my best of last year). Can’t wait for the sequels.

    Reply

  6. Tony
    Mar 24, 2018 @ 12:49:52

    I’ll be reading this soon, but I’m still not sure whether I’ll love it or loathe it…

    Reply

  7. Trackback: Happy Easter that was the month of March 2018 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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