[The excerpt below from The Rumpus is from my essay about Emmanuel Carrère's memoir.]
LET’S SAY I’M ON A FRENCH TRAIN enroute to meet my boyfriend, a prominent French writer. I open that day’s copy of Le Monde and there’s a controlling, erotic story by him about an unnamed woman who, just like me, is traveling aboard a French train. Among other items, the story contains detailed instructions to pleasure myself in the W.C., precisely between Paris and Niort. What’s more, he’s created this gift for me, he explains in the story, under the guise of obsessive love and performative literature.
In reaction I might think: 1) he’s a controlling jerk; or, maybe 2) this is cheesey, high-falutin French porn. But I think I’d go with he’s an interesting and complicated guy. A guy just like French novelist and filmmaker Emmanuel Carrère, whose real 8,000-word missive to his live-in girlfriend Sophie in Le Monde features as the switchpoint in this superb memoir.