L’écume des jours
Pauvert, Paris 1947
reviewed by Gary Levinson
L’écume des Jours is a story of devotion. Although Raymond Queneau called it “the most poignant of love stories”, it is not a love story in the typical sense, but rather a story about the cost of love, the cost of devotion: the giving of one’s self.
Vian is a master in the use of the French language and even though the story is tragic, at some times one just has to laugh at the irony or absurdity of the language. He also has some really fantastic lines, such as : “Je passe le plus clair de mon temps a l’obscurcir parce que la lumière me gène.” and “L’attente…est un prélude sur le mode mineur.”
Especially convincing is Vian’s criticism of the relation of the workers to the capitalist system, and their dispensability. His disdain for work is easily understood.
Also appreciated was his sarcastic portrayal of blind intellectual crazes, of whatever thought or philosophy is popular at the moment.
It’s a very enjoyable book to read because it nourishes one’s intellect with with its beautiful use of the French language. In the end, however, it is unsettling. This is one book that doesn’t leave the reader off the hook.
Reviewed by Gary Levinson
© copyright 2011 Levinson