Novels from here: the lessons of repetition

Novels from here: lessons from repetition


In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a man starts living twice every day. The phenomenon forces him to take a closer look at human fate. A beautiful curiosity!

On July 2, 2020, Daniel Rayé celebrates his birthday. He doesn't know it yet, but for him it will be the beginning of a strange phenomenon that will last ten days.

… Or rather twenty? Because there will be a July 2 bis, and each following day will in turn be repeated.

Unsurprisingly, the man is troubled by this, especially since he works in an environment as crowded as it is unpredictable: a CHSLD on the South Shore. And it's chaos when, informed of the events of the previous day, he tries to deviate from them!

Alain Raimbault modeled the narrator of his story Yesterday for nothing based on his own experience. He himself works in a public secondary school, but during the pandemic, he participated in the government program “JeContribue” in order to give a hand to the community.

His Daniel Rayé follows the same path. This is why we find him in CHSLDs, this is also why this universe is very well described in the novel: without sensationalism, without romanticism either.

Immigrants are numerous and essential; the different categories of staff do not mix; the residents have their quirks and their personalities; and newcomers try to find themselves in the implicit codes of this living environment.

Not a sad novel

The consequences left by the strict confinement, from which we began to emerge in the summer of 2020, are also well illustrated.

But since the narrator goes over it twice, he understands more the exasperation of an experienced attendant. Or he manages to unlock the painful secrets of a resident. He also notes what he fears to relive: the drivel of one, the death of another…

The novel is by no means sad. Daniel Rayé takes a tender and curious look at the people around him, and finally his own situation intrigues him more than it panics him. He even has fun with it sometimes.

At the same time, he spends his funny week reading Don Quixote by Cervantes, a great novel of chimeras. A beautiful parallel on the part of the author as the imagination characterizes the structure of Hier pour rien. “It's true because I wrote it”, to use the narrator's formula.

This one will end up breaking out of the vicious circle in which it is trapped and it will be an opportunity to look facing his own reality.

It is precisely this gaze that gives the salt to this singular story: what memories we keep and what stories we invent to get through everyday life. Attending a CHSLD makes this questioning even more significant.

And then diving back into the pandemic shows how quickly we have turned the page on the worst moments of health instructions. That was yesterday, but now it seems a long way off. The reminder is welcome.