‘Life is too short to accept to read badly written books and to sleep with women you don’t love’***
You accept to spend five hours a day, every day for a month writing from memory of one woman or another that you have desired or that has desired you. Thus is the contract that the writer makes with the narrator, Anne F Garréta, at the beginning of the book. You will write them down in the order they come to you and you will then set them, impersonally, in alphabetical order. Did you sleep with these women? Did you conclude? This is irrelevant, you are writing about desire she explains.
Garréta’s book contains twelve stories about desire, that as was explained above, are not in chronological order. That go from the intellectual through the will they – won’t they and what is their real interest? Up to the more erotic. There is for instance the intellectual desire for B*
‘Nothing seduces you more in a woman, —you’ve known that for a long time, but each time the surprise is unsettling —than certain acute forms of intellect a way of engaging this intellect, a freedom of movement in discussion, forgetting oneself in the pursuit of the pleasure of thought, of understanding. You abandon yourself totally to the language games into which she entices you’***
There is the encounter with E* at a conference, who initially contradicts you at every opportunity, you end up talking at the bar where:
‘She talks to you of her husband, of her lover, of her children, of what she is writing. You listen to her wondering why she should be opening up to you in this manner’***
You ask yourself if you desire her but can find no clear answer, you end up going to your separate rooms, and then whilst you are in pyjamas she calls you and as you head towards her room you think:
‘there is something quite jubilant, it seems to you, to be going like this, in the middle of the night, passing door after door and knowing that a woman is waiting for you behind one of them at the end of a maze of corridors’***
A final example is from the story of X*, you are told by friends that one of the many girls at the self defence class you attend finds you sexy and though you never know who it was you’re senses are heightened throughout the term as you grapple with different partners trying to deduce from the pressure or the intensity which of the students could be the one referred to by your friends
‘The mystery of her identity, the search for signs, the hermeneutic excitement it inspired in you made this term’s self defence the most troubling exotic experience of your life’***
I enjoyed this read.
First published in French as ‘Pas Un Jour’ by Grasset in 2002
*** My translation