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Crazy for Vincent

Hervé Guibert | Translated by Bruce Hainley

"In the middle of the night between the 25th and 26th of November, Vincent fell from the third floor playing parachute with a bathrobe. He drank a liter of tequila, smoked Congolese grass, snorted cocaine..."

Crazy for Vincent begins with the death of the figure it fixates upon: Vincent, a skateboarding, drug-addled, delicate "monster" of a boy in whom the narrator finds a most sublime beauty. By turns tender and violent, Vincent drops in and out of French writer and photographer Hervé Guibert's life over the span of six years (from 1982, when he first met Vincent as a fifteen year-old tennager, to 1988.) After Vincent's senseless death, the narrator embarks on a reconnaissance writing mission to retrieve the Vincent that had entered, elevated and emotionally eviscerated his life, working chronologically backward from the death that opens the text. Assembling Vincent's presence in his life had been: a passion? an ertotic obsession? or an authorial invention? A parallel inquiry could be made into the book that results: It is a diary, memoir, poem, fiction? Autopsy, crime scene, hagiography, hymn? Crazy for Vincent is a text the very nature of which is as untethered as desire itself.

Publisher's website

Hervé Guibert was the author of more than twenty-five books, many of which redefined the genres of fiction, criticism, autobiography, and memoir. A photography critic for Le Monde from 1977 to 1985, he was also a photographer and filmaker in his own right, and in 1980 published the photo-novel Suzanne and Louise, a book that combined photographic studies of his great-aunts with stories about them. In 1984 he was awarded a Cesar for best screenplay in partnership with Patrice Chereau for L'Homme blessé. Shortly before his death, he completed La Pudeur ou L'impudeur, a video work that chronicles the last days of life while living with AIDS. He died in 1991, at the age of 36.