Stéphane Bourguignon: his most beautiful literary shocks

Stéphane Bourguignon: his most beautiful literary shocks


Since mid-July, on ICI Extra, you can follow Larry, a series of 10 episodes packed with suspense by Stéphane Bourguignon. But that's not all. The writer and screenwriter also gives us his best reading suggestions here.

Is there a book that, more than any other, has meant a lot in your life?

Yes, Les valseusesby Bertrand Blier. It was this book that gave me permission to write my first novel. Written in “I”, it tells the story of two petty criminals who travel through France. The language is very simple, very colorful because the characters are people from the street. For me, it was a revelation to see that one could write using colloquial language. That was within my reach as a young man of 22.

So far, what have been your main literary favourites?

Here I would speak more of literary shocks, of books that marked me. And there have been a few over the years:

  • Tropic of Cancerby Henry Miller. This book was also a revelation for me. I didn't know it could exist, something so free ignoring all morality, especially sexual. It's like a big spit in the face of right-thinking people.
  • Shut up, please by Raymond Carver. The writing is apparently very simple, very sober, but it perfectly describes the difficulties, the sorrow, the incommunicability and the ill-being of ordinary people.
  • Background noiseby Don DeLillo. It's about overconsumption, environmental disasters, drug addiction, family disintegration, and the violence of American society. In short, a dark book. Except that DeLillo manages to make something funny out of it.
  • Living, writingby Annie Dillard, an American essayist and novelist. This highly readable book is a must-have for anyone interested in writing. It asks questions that many authors ask themselves: what is inspiration? Is it better to live or to write? Because while we write, we do not live. In the real world, at least.

And what was your latest discovery?

The Pondby Claire-Louise Bennett, a British author. I found this book very special, even bizarre. It's a bit like a chronicle. There is no real action, we are in the author's head and we will follow her thoughts on her vegetable garden, on the circles of her stove, on her neighbors, etc. She often dwells on the little things in life, but with a deliciously original look. It's really very strange and you could almost say that it's badly written or that the author didn't know what she was doing! Anyway, it's unlike anything else!

What are you reading right now?

Human, all too human of Nietzsche. I came across this book by chance. While shopping on Apple's Books app, I noticed it was on sale for $1.99 so I figured it's time to read some Nietzsche! As these are short texts here, it is not too indigestible. But don't be in a hurry because it's a more leisurely read. You read a little and you meditate a little. And you fall asleep…

Now can you tell us about a novel that you were unable to put down from the first to the last line?

Fighting the why-why of Rébecca Déraspe. The “why-why” is an expression of the author which applies to the incessant questioning, to our mental spinage. This book brings together the texts she had written for the Combat de mots on the show Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! If I understood correctly, she adapted them for the stage and that's what she made the book from. It's funny, it's desperate, it's feminist, it's written in a very lively language and it's never dull! I wasn't able to drop it until I was done.

We're curious: what novel would you really have liked to have written?

Any novel that would have made me independent of wealth and that would have allowed me to write what I want and always at my own pace!

To help us completely unplug during the holidays, what would be your best reading recommendations?

I thought to Stolen Dollby Elena Ferrante. It's about a woman on vacation on a beach who steals a little girl's doll. This is a fantastic, disturbing and hard to classify book that is beautifully written. Afterwards, you can see the film (with Olivia Colman) that Maggie Gyllenhaal made of it. 

I also thought of The World According to Garp or Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, an author I've read all my life. These two books take place by the sea and there is a lot of humor in them.

With which book would you like to end this interview?

< p>With Desperate Characters by Paula Fox. It's not the best book in the world, but it's the only one I read regularly. It takes place in the 70s in New York, in a fairly well-to-do environment. A woman will have her hand bitten by the cat she is trying to tame and from there, her life as a couple will fall apart. It is about what appearances hide, the fractures that are there and that we do not always suspect. It's written in beautiful language and the story is set in a society that seems to be in disarray too.