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Authors: Edouard Levé

Autoportrait (9 page)

BOOK: Autoportrait
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amygdales
) make me think of spiders (
mygales
). I have come in mouths. I have come on faces. I have come in pussies. I have come on breasts. I have come in hands. I have come on pubes. I have come on bellies. I have come on and in asses. I have come on backs. I have come in hair. I have come on thighs. In the moment, I suffer less from a big shock than a small one. There are words that I always use with some other word, for example, “aforethought.” I do not notice earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets except to disapprove. Diamonds and fur coats put me off. I ask for several estimates. I don’t regret not having been revealed. I don’t mind giving a Christmas bonus but I don’t want a free calendar. I will gladly pay musicians in restaurants to stop playing. I do not wait for a sale to buy. The word “titbit” somehow makes me think of pedophilia. When I look at a strawberry, I think of a tongue, when I lick one, of a kiss. I can see how drops of water could be torture. A burn on my tongue has a taste. My memories, good or bad, are sad the way dead things are sad. A friend can let me down but not an enemy. I ask the price before I buy. I go nowhere with my eyes closed. When I was a child I had bad taste in music. Playing sports bores me after an hour. Laughing unarouses me. Often, I wish it were tomorrow. My memory is structured like a disco ball. I wonder if there are still parents around to threaten their children with a whipping. The voice, the lyrics, and the face of Daniel Darc made French rock listenable to me. The best conversations I had date from adolescence, with a friend at whose place we drank cocktails that we made by mixing up his mother’s liquor at random, we would talk until sunrise in the salon of that big house where Mallarmé had once been a guest, in the course of those nights I delivered speeches on love, politics, God, and death of which I retain not one word, even though sometimes I came up with them doubled over in laughter, years later, this friend told his wife that he had left something in the house just as they were going to play tennis, he went down to the basement and put a bullet in his head with the gun he had carefully prepared. I have memories of comets with powdery tails. I read the dictionary. I went into a glass labyrinth called the Palace of Mirrors. I wonder where the dreams go that I don’t remember. I do not know what to do with my hands when they have nothing to do. Even though it’s not for me, I turn around when someone whistles in the street. Dangerous animals do not scare me. I have seen lightening. I wish they had slides for grown-ups. I have read more volumes one than volumes two. The date on my birth certificate is wrong. I am not sure I have any influence. I talk to my things when they’re sad. I don’t know why I write. I prefer a ruin to a monument. I am calm during reunions. I have nothing against New Year’s Eve. Fifteen years old is the middle of my life, regardless of when I die. I believe there is an afterlife, but not an afterdeath. I do not ask “do you love me.” Only once can I say “I’m dying” without telling a lie. The best day of my life may already be behind me.

EDOUARD LEVÉ
was born on January 1, 1965, in Neuilly-sur-Seine. A writer, photographer, and visual artist, Levé was the author of four books of prose—
Œuvres
,
Journal
,
Autoportrait
, and
Suicide
—and three books of photographs. He took his own life in 2007.

LORIN STEIN
is editor of
The
Paris Review
.

P
ETKOS
A
BATZOGLOU
,
What Does Mrs.
Freeman Want?

M
ICHAL
A
JVAZ
,
The Golden Age.

The Other City.

P
IERRE
A
LBHRT
-B
IROT
,
Grabinoulor.

Y
UZ
A
LHSHKOVSKY
,
Kangaroo.

F
ELIPE
A
LFAU
,
Chromos.

Locos.

J
OÃO
A
LMINO
,
The Book of Emotions.

I
VAN
Â
NGELO
,
The Celebration.

The Tower of Glass.

D
AVID
A
NTIN
,
Talking.

A
NTÓNIO
L
OBO
A
NTUNES,

Knowledge of Hell.

The Splendor of Portugal.

A
LAIN
A
RIAS
-M
ISSON,
Theatre of Incest.

I
FTIKHAR
A
RIF AND
W
AQAS
K
HWAJA
,
EDS
.,

Modern Poetry of Pakistan.

J
OHN
A
SHBERY AND
J
AMES
S
CHUYLER,

A Nest of Ninnies.

R
OBERT
A
SHLEY
,
Perfect Lives.

G
ABRIELA
A
VIGUR
-R
OTEM
,
Heatwave and Crazy Birds.

H
EIMRAD
B
ÄCKER
,
transcript.

D
JUNA
B
ARNES
,
Ladies Almanack.

Ryder.

J
OHN
B
ARTH
,
LE TIERS.

Sabbatical.

D
ONALD
B
ARTHELME
,
The King.

Paradise.

S
VETISLAV
B
ASARA
,
Chinese Letter.

R
ENÉ
B
ELLETTO
,
Dying.

M
ARK
B
INELLI
,
Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!

A
NDREI
B
ITOV
,
Pushkin House.

A
NDREJ
B
LATNIK
,
You Do Understand.

L
OUIS
P
AUL
B
OON
,
Chapel Road.

My Little War.

Summer in Termuren.

R
OGER
B
OYLAN
,
Killoyle.

I
GNÁCIO DE
L
OYOLA
B
RANDÃO
,

Anonymous Celebrity.

The Good-Bye Angel.

Teeth under the Sun.

Zero
.

B
ONNTE
B
REMSER,

Troia: Mexican Memoirs.

C
HRISTINE
B
ROOKE
-R
OSE
,
Amalgamemnon.

B
RIGID
B
ROPHY
,
In Transit.

M
EREDITH
B
ROSNAN
,
Mr. Dynamite.

G
ERALD
L. B
RUNS
,
Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language.

E
VGENY
B
UNIMOVICH AND
J. K
ATES
,
EDS
.,

Contemporary Russian Poetry:
An Anthology.

G
ABRIELLE
B
URTON
,
Heartbreak Hotel.

M
ICHEL
B
UTOR
,
Degrees.

Mobile.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape.

G. C
ABRERA
I
NFANTE
,
Infante’s Inferno.

Three Trapped Tigers.

J
ULETA
C
AMPOS
,

The Fear of Losing Eurydice.

A
NNE
C
ARSON
,
Eros the Bittersweet.

O
RLY
C
ASTEL
-B
LOOM
,
Dolly City.

C
AMILO
J
OSÉ
C
ELA
,
Christ versus Arizona.

The Family of Pascual Duarte.

The Hive.

L
OUIS
-F
ERDINAND
C
ÉLINE
,
Castle to Castle.

Conversations with Professor Y.

London Bridge.

Normance.

North.

Rigadoon.

H
UGO
C
HARTERIS
,
The Tide Is Right.

J
EROME
C
HARYN
,
The Tar Baby.

E
RIC
C
HEVILLARD
,
Demolishing Nisard.

M
ARC
C
HOLODENKO
,
Mordechai Schamz.

J
OSHUA
C
OHEN
,
Witz.

E
MILY
H
OLMES
C
OLEMAN
,
The Shutter of Snow.

R
OBERT
C
OOVER
,
A Night at the Movies.

S
TANLEY
C
RAWFORD
,
Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine.

Some Instructions to My Wife.

R
OBERT
C
REELEY
,
Collected Prose.

R
ENÉ
C
REVEL
,
Putting My Foot in It.

R
ALPH
C
USACK
,
Cadenza.

S
USAN
D
AITCH
,
L.C.

Storytown.

N
ICHONS
D
ELBANCO
,

The Count of Concord.

Sherbrookes.

N
IGEL
D
ENNIS
,
Cards of Identity.

P
ETER
D
IMOCK
,
A Short Rhetoric for Leaving the Family.

A
RIEL
D
ORFMAN
,
Konfidenz.

C
OLEMAN
D
OWELL
,

The Houses of Children.

Island People.

Too Much Flesh and Jabez.

A
RKADII
D
RAGOMOSHCHENKO
,
Dust.

R
IKKT
D
UCORNET
,
The Complete Butcher’s Tales.

The Fountains of Neptune.

The Jade Cabinet.

The One Marvelous Thing.

Phosphor in Dreamland.

The Stain.

The Word “Desire.”

W
ILLIAM
E
ASTLAKE
,
The Bamboo Bed.

Castle Keep.

Lyric of the Circle Heart.

J
EAN
E
CHENOZ
,
Chopin’s Move.

S
TANLEY
E
LKIN
,
A Bad Man.

Boswell: A Modern Comedy.

Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers.

The Dick Gibson Show.

The Franchiser.

George Mills.

The Living End.

The MacGuffin.

The Magic Kingdom.

Mrs. Ted Bliss.

The Rabbi of Lud.

Van Gogh’s Room at Arles.

F
RANÇOIS
E
MMANUEL
,
Invitation to a Voyage.

A
NNIE
E
RNAUX
,
Cleaned Out.

L
AUREN
F
AIRBANKS
,
Muzzle Thyself.

Sister Carrie.

L
ESLIE
A. F
IEDLER
,
Love and Death in the American Novel.

J
UAN
F
ILLOY
,
Op Oloop.

G
USTAVE
F
LAUBERT
,
Bouvard and Pécuchet.

K
ASS
F
LEISHER
,
Talking out of School.

F
ORD
M
ADOX
F
ORD
,

The March of Literature.

J
ON
F
OSSE
,
Aliss at the Fire.

Melancholy.

M
AX
F
RISCH
,
I’m Not Stiller

Man in the Holocene.

C
ARLOS
F
UENTES
,
Christopher Unborn.

Distant Relations.

Terra Nostra.

Where the Air Is Clear.

W
ILLIAM
G
ADDIS
,
J R.

The Recognitions.

J
ANICE
G
ALLOWAY
,
Foreign Parts.

The Trick Is to Keep Breathing.

W
ILLIAM
H. G
ASS
,
Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas.

Finding a Form.

A Temple of Texts
.

The Tunnel.

Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife.

G
ÉRARD
G
AVARRY
,
Hoppla! 1 2 3.

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