Jean-Christophe Valtat's novella 03
. . . written in one unbroken paragraph, about a teenage boy's unrequited love for a mentally handicapped girl he sees every day at the bus stop, has an enormous, controlled rage. It roars, from the shallows of the dreariest French suburb, against such received ideas as the religion of childhood 'innocence,' the comforting notion that we all 'grow' and 'develop,' and the solace, offered by our teachers and our parents, that if we observe the proper rites our futures will be meaningful and wholesome . . . His book is at once Proustian and anti- Proustian: childhood and adolescence minutely, lyrically, philosophically examined, only to be given a contemptuous failing grade . . . It is a risky and ambitious book, though it does not seem "experimental" as such, in part because it is so grounded in the real, in the boredom and self-aggrandizement of being a teen-ager. The narrator is morose, aggressive, silly, defiant, as we all were; unlike some of us, he is also funny, intelligent, lyrically precise, and frequently self-aware. (James Wood, The New Yorker
If there's any justice in the world--and of course, 03
's narrator would insist that there isn't--this beautifully bitter little book will become as instantly classic as the work of Morrissey and Marr. (Emma Garman, Words Without Borders
A book that's a unique and insightful ... rumination on youth. 03
is a mix of beautiful and soiled thoughts presented in an unformed mess of confusion and truth. And, if memory serves, that's exactly what the high school years were like. (Kyle Olsen, Hipster Book Club
About the Author
Jean-Christophe Valtat teaches comparative literature at Clermont-Ferrand University. He is the author of two novels and a story collection.
Mitzi Angel is the publisher of Faber and Faber, Inc.