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Vie Francaise: A novel [Hardcover]

Jean-Paul Dubois , Linda Coverdale

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Book Description

July 3 2007
Paul Blick: born in France (but not Paris); son of a car dealer; provincial sociology student-cum-theoretical revolutionary; rioter of ’68; married soon thereafter; briefly employed (by his father-in-law); soon to discover adultery and other satisfactions of a desperate househusband as consort of a high-flying wife who conquers the world as CEO of a Jacuzzi-manufacturing company.

This not-so-extraordinary Frenchman is delivered to the not-so-extraordinary awareness of having arrived in middle age more a product of his times, his country, and blind chance than a creature of his own free will. A fluke—wild commercial success as a photographer of trees—will give him, for a time, the belated illusion of self-fulfillment. But when this exalting respite passes (along with the unaccountable vogue for tree photography), Paul finds himself again a man more acted upon than acting, until the worst imaginable catastrophe forces him to see how feeble his powers to imagine the worst have heretofore been. And ever after there will be no avoiding the harder facts of life at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

In this unforgettable French brother of Rabbit Angstrom and Frank Bascombe, Jean-Paul Dubois gives us a man whose life reflects the story—the mind and the heart—of a society coming belatedly, poignantly, and often hilariously to grips with the abiding pain and intermittent beauty of what living has become.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (July 3 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307262871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307262875
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,081,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this first translation of veteran French novelist Dubois, Gallic everyman Paul Blick experiences decades of turmoil and tragedy, and conscientiously adds each mishap-whether national or personal-to his bleak philosophy. A native of the southern city of Toulouse, Paul loses his beloved brother in childhood, flirts with the revolutionary side of the '60s during his student days and finally sells out to marry Anna, the proud daughter of an aggressively capitalist family. Peaceful domesticity eventually gives way to Paul being unfaithful, and to his newfound passion for photography, which in turn brings him fame. Each section of Paul's life is titled with the name of the French president at the time ("Charles De Gaulle"; "François Mitterrand") and not-so-subtle parallels are drawn by Paul between his shifting discontent and his country's restlessness, climaxing in a series of random tragedies. Dubois's sense of irony and the absurd-Paul's fascination with snapping photos of trees and beetles, a friend's teenage sexual exploits with a roast turkey, Anna's hauteur as CEO of a Jacuzzi company-is compelling. But while Paul's grim discourses may be an integral part of his character, they don't add much to the story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It is not a typical French life but rather an amalgamation of personal and national experiences felt throughout France in the latter half of the twentieth century. Whether evoking the social upheaval of 1968 or the apprehensive coming of the millennium, Dubois sculpts a tale of one man simultaneously excited and worried about his changing world. Paul Blick—born, raised, and living in Toulouse—suffers the loss of his older brother, embraces liberalism, rambles through his twenties, marries a capitalist, raises a family, and stumbles upon a small fortune as a nature photographer. Nothing of this life seems too extraordinary. The events of the story are not Dubois' intent, however. Rather, the achievement and purpose of Vie Francaise is in the analysis of these events, the individual construction of personal and national meaning. Paul Blick often seems disenchanted and content when alone, yet as he ages, his dwindling family becomes a growing comfort. With equal parts laughter and sorrow, Dubois has provided something significant: a personal narrative carved from national identity. Parsons, Blair
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ce livre m'a plait March 11 2010
By J. Marquardt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read the french version which slowed me down. I thought the juxtaposition of the coming of age story set against the political environment of the Fifth Republic was highly informative and added to my knowledge of french politics. This is beautiful writing, is it the french language? There are so many poignant metaphors and subtle references, so many rich characters, humor, sorrow, deceit, love, family dynamics. Even though the last part of the story was sad, there was a beauty
in how it was tied to nature. That's the cycle of life. We all face disappointments as we age. I think Paul managed his life,
and its hardships, admirably. After all, he was an artist.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the personal is political Dec 24 2008
By Shoshana - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An interesting juxtaposition of one man's life in counterpoint to the political and historical events of modern France. Evocative, intelligent and
authentic.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts with black humor ends with absolute depression. July 15 2008
By Patricia A. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The last line of the book says it all:

"...life, I knew, was nothing more than an illusory strand connecting us to others and leading us to believe, for a brief time we find meaningful, that we are something afater all, and not just nothing."

The first part of this book is mordantly funny so it sucks you into reading more. As you go further and especially at the end you realize that the author can see no meaning in life except possibly and only momentarily when one is living dangerously (sailing in difficult seas) or observing nature.

The writing is excellent and interesting but be sure you have some prozac around for when you finish.

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