Olivier Bourdeaut ‘En Attendant Bojangles’

—Hysteria, bipolarity, schizophrenia, the doctors had labelled her with all of their technical terms used to identify people who are completely mad. And they had confined her to a building and they had chemically confined her with tons of pills, yes they had confined her for insanity by a single signature validated by a medical stamp.***

Olivier Bourdeaut’s  ‘Waiting for Bojangles’ is the marvellous story of Louise and George, a fantastic husband and wife imageinfatuated with one another whose lives consist of dancing together sublimely to the music of Nina Simone’s Mr Bojangles and drinking coloured cocktails at all times of the day and the night, seen through the eyes of their son. We can feel the son’s marvel at his father and love of his mother in his descriptions:

—I never understood why, my father never called my mother the same name two days running. Even if certain names bored her quicker than others, my mother loved this routine and, each morning in the kitchen, I could see her watching my father, following him with a smile on her face, with her head down as she ate her brakfast, or with her chin in her hands waiting for the verdict.  —Oh no, you can’t do that to me! Not Renée, not today! This evening we’ve got guests for dinner! She chuckled, then she looked towards the mirror wincing and greeted the new Renée, the new Joséphine trying to seem dignified, the new Marylou puffing out her cheeks. —what’s more, I don’t really have anything terribly Renée in my wardrobe***

In this life where every day is a celebration and tomorrow is always around the corner, there is another angle to their lives and the events given in George’s diary as he tells his story from the day they meet, his falling instantly in love and at once understanding and accepting Loise as she is, where, as he tries to keep their lives and love together, we feel Louise is slowly escaping him despite his care. His trying to keep the world together for her and their son after her internment and then the fantastic escape from the hospital which they all three, following one of Louise’s ideas, disguise as a kidnapping.

Both George and his son give descriptions of their escape to Spain, one magic, one full of worried determination as this short book moves on to its inevitable climax. Read in one sitting.

—He jumped so high, he jumped so high, then he lightly touched down.  Nina Simone Mr Bojangles

First published in French as ‘En Attendant Bojangles’ by Finitude in 2016
*** My translation

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