One of my favorite authors is undoubtedly the French Virginie Despentes, even though I have only read two of her books. This may seem like a somewhat unexpected choice, but it does put me at a safe distance from the term "literature snob". Despentes writes a highly provocative books that are harder to read than any French classic you may ever throw at me, and I wouldn't have thought that I'd like her so much from only reading what her books are about. But that's the point, it doesn't really matter what her books are about.
What surprises me the most with the amazing Virginie Despentes is that she seems to appeal to men. The first book by her that I read was "Bye Bye Blondie" (a title that would never have made me pick up the book by myself) and it was given to me by a young Frenchman who came to visit Oslo and who stayed at our place. He just gave me the book, like that. It was his personal book I believe, not something he had picked up especially for me. I was a bit surprised since guys usually avoids female authors, and that also made me a bit intrigued. I have so many books that I haven't read yet that new additions to my collection usually have to wait a couple of years to be read, but I actually started reading this book straight away. And from a certain point on, I couldn't stop reading it. This happens extremely rarely for me, perhaps once every three years, and it is naturally a very good sign.
When I was last in France, I bought another one of her books: "Les chiennes savantes" (and now I feel really stupid about not buying more of them...). While still in France, one of the guys who lived in the apartment where we stayed picked up this book and started reading it, and he found it very interesting. Very captivating. Just like "Bye Bye Blondie", this book is about a woman with a highy screwed up life - something neither I nor these guys can really relate to. And yet we seemingly do. Yes, amazingly enough, Despentes seems to be able to make men read about women!
I did not like this second book as much as the first, and I actually only started liking it for real once the general plot was "pushed to the back". I don't really care for the story of the book, and I think Despentes did a better job with "Bye Bye Blondie" which has a simpler storyline. Complex stories, dealing with many people, is not Despente's forte. Her forte is on the other hand describing the psychology of messed up women. She has the ability to make what seems like a completely unsympathetic woman become incredibly captivating, and she makes you see things completely through her eyes, to the point where you are fooled together with the poor main character. Some of her descriptions of what goes on inside a woman's mind are uncannily spot on. It is also highly provocative and not very feministic, and it all makes for very engaging reading.
To get an idea of who Despentes is, I can add that she is the author of the book "Baise-moi". However bad the movie may have been, that's at least her field of expertise.
And speaking of the language of the book, why not have a small sample of it? With an appropriate passage ON that said language, of course:
- Pourquoi tu fais pas un effort quand tu parles ? Tu fais racaille, c'est insupportable. T'as vu où t'habites maintenant ? Et ça fait des années que t'es dans des endroits classes...
- Je la parle couramment leur langue de tapette, mais tu causes pas avec ça, c'est pas une langue vivante, c'est du cafouillage de cerveau broyé pour cerveaux de tafiole, tu vois de quoi je parle ? Fesses bien serrées, le ton qui monte pas, rien qui sort. Autant fermer sa gueule, tu vois... Moi, mieux je la parle, moins je la sens leur langue.