MY PARENTS by HervÉ Guibert


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This disjointed account of life with Mom and Dad by French novelist and journalist Guibert (To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, 1991) is supposedly a blend of autobiography and fiction -- neither terribly exciting. Published in France in 1986 (five years before the author's death from AIDS), the novel boasts opening pages redolent with the spicy aroma of scandal. HervÉ's great-aunt breaks into her sister's Paris apartment and burns some 30-year-old papers that reflect badly on HervÉ's mother, who as a young woman had been impregnated by the parish priest and quickly married off to an old childhood friend (HervÉ's father, who did not come cheap). Dominique was born four months later. This cheerful rattling of skeletons soon gives way to a description of the domestic order that enfolded HervÉ's childhood world. His father, abandoning a raffish past, takes a civil service job as veterinary inspector at the Paris slaughterhouses. HervÉ's feelings about his parents are profoundly ambivalent, perhaps because of his long dependence on them -- at 12 he is still being escorted to the toilet by his mother, while at night his father undresses him and massages his feet. In his teens HervÉ starts to rebel, though when he gets sick in his own apartment, he rushes home for more coddling By now the young man has had two male lovers, come out, and published his love letters. His journalistic prominence helps his parents tolerate his homosexuality, but HervÉ is ""extremely cold"" with them, ""almost ashamed of [his] lack of basic decency."" Only when his mother has a mastectomy does he overcome his ""disgust,"" cry, and hold her close. A minor work that fails to define HervÉ and his parents clearly or memorably.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Serpent's Tail -- dist. by Consortium