With a flight out later today, I’m trying both to get packed and to achieve the impossible: namely, finishing the Metamorphoses before leaving, so as to have less weight to carry and more room for other books. I’ll make a valiant effort, but come what may, Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost will be making its hefty way along with me.
I did finish Grégoire Bouillier’s The Mystery Guest, though– and what a beautiful way to round out a hectic and emotionally exhausting week. The guy somehow manages to describe the heightened senses and frantic grasping at meaning and significance that are involved in dealing with loves both lost and new– while acknowledging in a way that refuses to condemn passion-lorn fools both for the far-fetched nature and the absolute sincerity of their dramas.
In doing this, Bouillier is also demonstrating his existential essence as a writer; the possibility he sees in things, situations, world-historical stories, and the connections between them all and to one’s own life is indicative of an acute and appreciative attention to detail. And he admits as much himself: “The significance of a dream, we’re told, has less to do with its overt drama than with the details; a long time ago it struck me that the same was true of real life, of what passes among us for real life.”* Combine that with a fearlessness of revealing amazement at beautiful coincidences, and you’ve got what seems to my own (sometimes too-open) mind a gentle, yet uncompromising and unsentimental, force for good.
And hey, Bouillier helped me decide on another book to pack for my trip: without giving anything away, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway figures in here. It’s about time I picked it up off my shelf, and I’m glad to have been given the excuse courtesy of a work I thoroughly enjoyed.
* Grégoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest: An Account, transl. Lorin Stein (Mariner Books: New York, 2006), 5.