THE BATHROOM by Jean-Philippe Toussaint


Email this review


An anesthetized, very short French novel with numbered paragraphs and not much action in it--a clich‚ by now. This book is just that, yet also quite wonderful. The narrator is a young man, a historian who finds himself happiest in his bathroom, spending most of the day there, venturing out only to make love to his smashingly elegant and cool live-in girlfriend Edmondsson or to see what the wacky bunch of Polish painters are doing in his kitchen. But inertia is this man's thing, and inertia of course is always surprising. Soon he's off to Venice on no particular errand--except in search of more of the consolations of solitude. Toussaint pulls off this hackneyed anomie precisely because he's a genuinely funny writer, Keatonesque. That the novel is a sort of round or fugue, that genuinely dark tones are achieved offhandedly, that small erotic moments are captured perfectly: all are made possible by the sweet grimace of the self. deprecating prose--for example, ""I waited on the platform, very straight, hair showing The moment Edmondsson saw me she made sweeping gestures with the tennis rackets, came toward me swaying, her cheeks round, smiling at me. She ran to me, I waited for her. She touched my face, congratulated me on my clean hair."" Full of eccentric details like this, every sentence has its own strange spin--and makes one long for more Toussaint in translation soon.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1989
ISBN: 1564785181
Publisher: Dutton