Monday, June 30, 2008

Yasmina Reza, Dawn, Dusk or Night: A Year with Nicolas Sarkozy

It's been far too long. And I have felt the lack. Not of reading -- I have managed to keep up with that, though not nearly as much as I would have liked (and I have certainly been feeling out of sorts for it, for the lack of concentrated, focused time, pushing through) -- but rather of finishing. Of staying with one book and reading through.

Maybe even being compelled to push through with that singular focus.

A number of books started and slowly hacking away at. For me, no way to read. But there it is for the moment.

But I did finish one yesterday. Bought as a treat, with a coupon, from Borders, on the first evening of my sister and niece's visit here to Madison: Yasmina Reza's Dawn, Dusk or Night.

I first read Reza when her play Art made its splash. Then stumbled across her Adam Haberberg. While I enjoyed Haberberg (though if I am remembering correctly, "enjoy" isn't quite the appropriate word...) I loved Art. Never seen the latter performed, much to my chagrin.

Dawn, Dusk or Night was on my wish list because of Reza, because of what I'd read of its style and quality of reportage, and because I have a soft spot in my heart (and perhaps my head too) for France.

It is an intriguing work -- and disturbing. It is not at all a flattering portrait of Sarkozy. It is not, for that matter, a straight-forward portrait. "Evocative" is a descriptor that has, I am sure, been used far too frequently. But Reza dances around this man; her prose approaches, grabs, captures, paints around, and dances away.

And Sarkozy ends up looking like almost every other politician you've ever read of. Or imagined.

Yet nonetheless he is given what is, to me, the most affecting line in the entire book, and not one you'd expect in a portrait of an electoral campaign:
"When you start qualifying love, it stops being love." (138)