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Report on Myself Paperback – Jan 20 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Original edition (Jan. 20 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061896861X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618968619
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 14 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #988,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"I was lusting for passion." Dec 27 2008
By Erik Olson - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Frenchman Gregoire Bouillier has had a colorful and downright strange life according to his "Report on Myself." This review's titular quote, snatched from his pithy and intriguing memoir, sums up the wild, double-edged nature of his existence so far. It's worth a voyeuristic visit.

In each chapter of this short book we drop into a random stage of Mr. Bouillier's life. His supremely dysfunctional parents fight, swing, cheat, and divorce, with the hapless young Gregoire irradiated by the fallout of their actions. I suppose if this were an American family the author would've rammed himself through years of hand-wringing therapy. Indeed some traumas, like his molestation by his older brother, would've rated entire books in our culture. But here that disturbing occurrence only gets a cursory paragraph. C'est la vie, I guess.

A running theme throughout "Report on Myself" is the influence of past occurrences on Mr. Bouillier's present circumstances. For example, as a child he experienced the sudden disappearance of a friend and his family, including the beautiful matron he became smitten with after accidentally seeing her nude. Later in life, one of his loves dumps him by pulling her own vanishing act (we see the aftermath in his other memoir, "The Mystery Guest"). He links events like these together in a synergistic fashion, as if the past was a dry run that equipped him to make sense of present distress. Even certain books, such as Homer's "Odyssey," lend structure to his journey. A little weird, but then again I've coped with reality in a similar fashion, so I'm glad to see that I'm not alone.

The major angst in the author's life results from his stormy romantic relationships. His first adult relationship with a relatively conventional woman bores him, so he gravitates toward a couple of high-maintenance paramours with, ah, issues. Based on the anecdotes about his mercurial mother, a pop psychologist might diagnose a long-running oedipal complex, but I'll leave that to the experts. Whatever the state of Mr. Bouillier's unconscious mind, when it comes to his love life he exults in the highs, endures the lows, and tries to make sense of relational disintegration.

Mr. Bouillier has the ability to make interesting observations by being present in some parts of his life and removed from others. He can take a passionate or uncomfortable moment and plop us down right there with him. Conversely, the author is able to remove himself from an event and dispassionately comment upon it, leaving us to make our own judgments. I found either path intriguing. I'm glad I've avoided some of his pitfalls, but he's certainly had a number of exciting rides that trigger my envy reflex.

At any rate, "Report on Myself" is an intimate look at a man's relationships and how he uses the past to help him make sense of his present. I recommend reading this with "The Mystery Guest," which provides more detail about the aftermath of his stormiest and most affecting romantic relationship.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
creativity as an alternative to madness Jan. 21 2009
By H. F. Gibbard - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Gregoire Bouillier is one of those authors whose almost unbearable sensitivity took him to the edge of madness but who stubbornly refused to give in to the chaos of his inner and outer world. His parents were bohemians who made little attempt to shield him from their disordered sex lives. His mother was suicidal and his father was ambivalent about the family. But Bouillier emerged triumphant from his ordeal, even though it left him on the brink of insanity. Now he turns the sort of self-referential, paleological thinking usually associated with schizophrenic disorders into a playful, almost cheerful autobiographical game of punning with words and coincidences that he shares with us. It's a fun ride, if sometimes a harrowing one.

At times, his frank confessions are quite disturbing. Nowhere is this more true than in his description of the three months he spent on unemployment, sleeping until dawn in stairwells, listening to voices in his head that ordered him to do things, writing obsessively in the margins of newspapers. The report of his mental breakdown is quite depressing, and he could have ended up institutionalized. But Bouillier's soul is made of a sort of rubber that always returns to its natural shape, refusing to be deformed by circumstances. He characteristically bounced back after reading Homer's Odyssey in a single night. In the Odyssey, he found a frame for his own life, a narrative worth pursuing, an existence worth living.

There is one amazing line from this book that sums up his entire life: "my ambition wasn't to exist in this world, but to make a world exist." That sort of existential courage makes his entire account worthwhile.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a mere sketch of an interesting life Dec 15 2008
By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
My feelings about Gregoire Bouillier's quasi-autobiography "Report on Myself" are mixed. I was pleased with the beginning, promising a good story, and I liked his prose, full of memories appearing in a flash. The great French tradition, reminding me of masters such as Colette and Proust, seemed to continue in this little book.

Additionally, the psychological twists and complications in the narrator's family life reminded me of Woody Allen, perhaps because of the times he describes (he was born in 1960). The stories grow wilder and wilder with each page, and the descriptions of Bouillier's love life and his bizarre adventures with his girlfriends become more and more surreal.

I loved his discovery of Odyssey, and how it makes his life and the book rooted in Western Civilization; I was the more interested because of my own cathartic experience with a book, interestingly also about Greece - it was "The Magus" for me...

Unfortunately, I found the book as a whole a little incoherent, the flashes and jumps between different moments of Bouillier's life chaotic, and I was bored with last 10 pages, although the book is tiny. Maybe the problem lies in its size: I felt like it was a sketch, material for a much more voluminous and developed memoir.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I'll Blame it on the Translation Jan. 14 2009
By Richard A. Mitchell - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This short book is more of a few sketches of a life than a coherent memoir. Most of the sketches surround the author's women - girlfriends, his mother, a mother of his best friend and a prostitute he only just met (sort of).

There are two elements to the book. There are the recollections of incidents and then his philosophical analysis of those events. The anecdotes were amusing and interesting. The philosophizing was often nearly incoherent. Frequently, I had to just accept that a sentence made no sense either structurally or in context. This may have been, and hopefully was, due to the translation. Thus, there was much lost in the translation.

The anecdotes were amusing enough to keep me plodding through the somewhat rambling material in between but in toto, this book was mediocre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
a great short memoir Jan. 20 2009
By jennahw - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I really enjoyed this book, especially compared with a couple other memoirs I've read lately. I'm not going to lie, Gregoire's life has certainly had it's share of tragedy (which is a good thing - some other recent memoirs seem to be making tragedy out of nothing, which is annoying and just not a good read). But unlike other recent memoirists I've read, Gregoire doesn't take himself too entirely seriously. True, he does ruminate on his women in the form of staph infections and Ulysses characters, but still - he has a refreshing sense of humor about it all. Also, I liked that he covered the events in his life that were really meaningful and changed something - he didn't cover every bowl of cereal he's ever eaten.

Note that the story is told in non-chronological order. We actually get the most recent snippet near the beginning, and it jumps around repeatedly after that. This didn't bother me though. They are ordered in such a way that you get certain revelations at an appropriate time.

The only reason for the minus one star is that I feel that because it's a translation, you do lose a little bit. This is a wonderful translation, but because a lot of stuff (mostly in the beginning) is based on wordplay, you do lose a bit until you remember that this wasn't written in English.

A quick read, and well worth it. I may be checking out his The Mystery Guest now.