La Femme d’un Homme Qui

 

Once upon a time, La Femme d’un Homme Qui was The Wife of a Man Who.

TheManWho_NickBarlay

The manuscript of this novel, written in but yet to be published in English, found its way into a plastic bag, crossed the Channel and ended up, on a cool autumnal evening, in a bar on Rue Bagnolet in the 20th in Paris. The bag was passed to an editor, Pascal Arnaud, and, after its many rejections in the UK, the novel found a home.

Originally, I’d gone to Paris to celebrate the launch of an old friend’s book. David M. Thomas, polyglot, novelist, black-clad radical, inhabitant of France and literary soul of Limoges, was someone I’d known for over two decades. We’d met in an estaminet in the south of France and were both French-speakers, though mine was never good enough to write in French.

Having written and published a novel in English, DMT was in the middle of writing, in French, a (superb) trilogy of novels set against the Spanish Civil War. His publisher – Quidamwww.quidamediteur.com – was launching his book at the L’Equipage bookshop opposite the bar.

 My manuscript in the plastic bag was published in 2011. It has since been widely praised as ‘a masterpiece’, ‘a powerful psychological drama that takes you hostage’, ‘Alice in Wonderland on Lithium’, ‘courageous and unique’.

For more reviews and information:

http://www.quidamediteur.com/NewFiles/livres/LaFemmedunhomme.html

Here’s the opening in English…then in the acclaimed French translation by Françoise Marel…

Once upon a time two days ago a man was found in an armchair in a hotel room. The man was quite large. He was quite tall. But his feet were as small as his wife’s feet. A few chest hairs sprouted from an otherwise hairless body and an ancient sunline separated his shaded waist from his paler groin, like past from present. Apart from a pair of black tights he was naked. In his mouth was a segment of orange, clamped between upper and lower teeth. Of course he was dead.

The tights caused his death because he was not wearing them in the traditional manner on his legs but twisted taut around his neck. They were stretched to a picture hook on the wall almost three feet above and behind his head.

He was definitely not the first to meet his end in this way. Most fans of auto-erotic asphyxiation apparently know only too well that there is a fine line between safe sexual practice and death by misadventure. But the statistical balance is on their side. They live to tell the tale, pulled back to their safe lives like bungee jumpers.

This particular fan was a husband. And husbands, apparently, are more than twice as likely as wives to die in fatal accidents. They meddle. They tinker. They cross wires. They put their fingers in holes. They DIY. So that’s how it happened. It could have been Black and Decker. Instead it was Pretty Polly…

*

 

Il était une fois, il y a deux jours, un homme qu’on retrouvait dans le fauteuil d’une chambre d’hôtel. L’homme était plutôt fort. Il était plutôt grand. Mais ses pieds étaient aussi petits que ceux de sa femme. Quelques poils de torse pointaient sur un corps autrement glabre et une ancienne marque de bronzage séparait la taille hâlée du bas-ventre plus pâle, comme le passé du présent. À l’exception d’une paire de collants noirs, il était nu. Dans sa bouche, un quartier d’orange, serré entre les dents. Naturellement, il était mort.

Les collants étaient à l’origine de sa mort parce qu’il ne les portait pas de manière traditionnelle, sur les jambes, mais entortillés autour du cou. Tendus, ils étaient attachés à un crochet fixé sur le mur derrière lui, un mètre environ au-dessus de sa tête.

Il n’était pas bien entendu le premier à trouver ainsi la mort. La plupart des fans d’asphyxie auto-érotique savent apparemment très bien qu’il n’y a qu’un poil entre pratique sexuelle sans risque et mort accidentelle. Cela dit, les statistiques sont de leur côté. Ils sont encore là pour en parler, une fois redescendus sur terre comme les adeptes du saut à l’élastique.

Le fan en question était un homme marié. Et cette engeance, apparemment, s’expose deux fois plus souvent que sa contrepartie féminine à ce genre d’accident fatal. Ce sont des touche-à-tout. Des as de la bricole. Qui s’emmêlent les pinceaux. Qui mettent les doigts là où il ne le faut pas. Des piliers de Bricorama. Alors, arriva ce qui arriva. À défaut de Black & Decker, ce fut Golden Lady.

*

‘Lecteur, imagine le meilleur, et tu ne seras pas déçu. Joy est une souffrance qui se mérite.’   Claro, le Clavier cannibale

‘Un rallye halluciné.’   Claire Devarrieux, Libération

 ‘Nick Barlay sait ce que noir veut dire.’  La Nouvelle Vie Ouvrière

‘Nick Barlay est… ensorceleur qui réalise un portrait de femme d’une puissance et d’une modernité sidérantes.’ Livres-Addict

‘…il a conçu, pour son personnage, une conscience si précise et si intime que nous voilà les otages incandescents de la femme qui.’ Charybde2

La Femme d’un Homme Qui @ Amazon

www.quidamediteur.com

The Wife of a Man Who – English Kindle version 2014 

 

 

 

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