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French Fiction Fridays #16

In this week's selection, hearts flutter and desires surge. French Fiction Fridays heats up with a rare freedom unfolding the beautiful mysteries of the body and mind, while featuring an account of wild and scandalous rebellion. A lustrous rock'n'roll ride!

The History of My Sexuality
(L'Histoire de ma sexualité)
by Arthur Dreyfus
Publisher: Gallimard


How does sexual awakening manifest itself? What are the early warning signs? What is the nature of desire?

The author, musing on his own observations, dramatizes and comments on a number of characters who give us their perspective as we meet them along the way. Friends including John of Forgetting, Sailor, Transvestite, The Old Punster, Persian, Edge of the Frame, Childhood Madman, and Beautiful Horizon… The author’s parents are also quite present in this series of fragmentary reflections: how did they find out about their son’s homosexuality?

Stories of early, collective emotional awakenings at school or with friends, promiscuity, internet sex, furtive encounters, insatiable interrogations on the mystery of sex: the rawness of these scenes inspires a dignity and refinement of reflection. Arthur Dreyfus reveals his true maturity as a writer, delivering a warm, captivating, often amusing, deeply perceptive novel.

Arthur Dreyfus was born in 1986. His first novel, La Synthèse du camphre [The Synthesis of Camphor], was published to great acclaim in 2010. He is also a screenwriter, a director, and the host of programs on culture for the public radio station France Inter. His novel Belle Famille [Beautiful Family] received the Prix Orange in 2012.

Read excerpt (English) translated from the French by Edward Gauvin

Read excerpt (French)

Something wild
(Un truc sauvage)

by Julien Decoin
Publisher: Le Seuil

Six teenage boys overcome their small-town boredom as best they can: beer, girls, and most recently, a rock group. Rimbaud was wrong, life can’t be taken seriously until you’re at least 18, or in any case, until you’ve done a bit of hell-raising. They decide to stage a countdown of outrageous exploits, impatient to get to the grand finale.

Things speed up when one of them contacts an agent who guarantees them concerts, groupies, the whole works. But will they pay the price?

They leave that question for later, but life catches up with them and takes the spoils, severing the six-fingered hand they had formed. Left with only five, they find nothing works the way it used to. Nothing works at all.

Born in Paris in 1985, Julien Decoin was majoring in French Literature when he discovered a passion for filmmaking. He has been an assistant director for ten years for both film and television. Between shoots, he felt the need to write Un truc sauvage [Something Wild], a debut novel, based on his adolescent years.

Read excerpt (English) translated from the French by Jane Kuntz

Read excerpt (French)

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