Nothing Serious Paperback – Oct 1 2005
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
When Louise's husband, Adrien, leaves her for his father's lover, Paula, a surgically enhanced model, the troubled young Parisian editor finds the joy has been sucked out of her life. The daughter of Bernard-Henri Lévy, the author (The Rendezvous) evokes the misery of heartache and unsentimentally conveys her protagonist's hollow sense of desolation in stylized, fragmentary prose. ("Into the trash with all secondhand pre-used words, it's like my heart, and my body, they're also secondhand, they've also loved, suffered, so what?") As the narrative progresses, seamlessly moving between the present and Louise's recollections of her fraught marriage, she slowly begins to see Adrien for the belittling, controlling and vain miscreant he was during their time together. Adding to the list of Louise's sorrows is the death of her beloved grandmother as well as the long-undetected cancer threatening her mother's life, but romance with Pablo, a devoted Spaniard, buoys her spirits. A delicious cynicism creeps onto every page as Louise recounts her dysfunctional marriage, her addiction to amphetamines and battles with low self-esteem. Lévy's memorable if neurotic protagonist proves loveable despite her many flaws, and the novel is distinguished by that particularly intriguing brand of French fatalism. (Oct. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“A sensation in France last year, this novel from Lévy manages the impossible, combining the plot of a made-for-TV-movie with language worthy of a feminist philosopher-poet.... this beautifully written novel deserves attention.... Lévy’s prose is luminous and the novel is a marvel of construction.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As for the novel, of the confessional genre, I can report that it is really not too bad, especially for a 20-something. Better than the "girls of Knopf" sort of memoirs-cum-novels that appeared a few years ago. Not great literature, but worth reading if one's expectations are not too high.
Nothing Serious is not actually much about Carla Bruni, although she does appear as a Wicked Witch of the West-type husband-stealing predator who pops up episodically throughout the story. The main storyline, however, is a coming-of-age tale for a young French woman coming to terms with the death of her grandmother. It is a journey of self-discovery, complete with tales of infidelity and drug and alcohol abuse that ends in a French rehab center (where apparently the French health system allows stays of up to one year). Included in this roman-a-clef are vignettes of famous French philosophers like the author's father, Bernard Henry-Levy.
While not great literature, and geared more towards female "chick-lit" audiences than male readers, it does give a sense of what has happened to Europe, culturally. Blue jeans, drugs, sex, rock and roll seem to have replaced philosophical discussions about the meaning of life, more "Sex and the City" than "The Second Sex," although Levy gives philosophy a shot in the end, when she reveals the moral of her story:
Life is a rough draft, in the end. Every story is a rough draft of the next one, you cross out, you cross out, and when it's almost right and without any misprints, it's over, all that's left is to leave, that's why life is long. Nothing serious.
It would be nice to see Levy expand upon this concept in future. She may have something serious to say, but she hasn't said it yet. In a sense, Nothing Serious is a rough draft, holding out the promise of perhaps more serious work to come...
The story itself -- I think that it could be told just fine through an long literary essay. As it book, it just seems to belabor the point.