Me & Other Writings

Dorothy Project. Oct. 2019. 204p. ISBN 9781948980029. pap. $16. LIT
ghting 16 essays written over various decades, this collection from French novelist (The Lover), filmmaker (Seven Days...Seven Nights), and playwright (with Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour) Duras (1914–96) discusses diverse topics such as reading, filmmaking, politics, and true crime incidents. Two notable pieces describe the author’s complicated mother, “a great character,” and the sorrow of giving birth to a stillborn son, documented 34 years after the event. In 1980, a newspaper commissioned Duras to report on the summer at a French beach town. Thus “Summer 80” mixes fiction and nonfiction and is the longest entry, comprising ten sections that examine current events of the period (Moscow Olympics, Gdansk Solidarity movement) combined with observations of beachgoers, from which develops a fictional story woven seamlessly into the narrative, depicting Europe before the collapse of communism and the opening of borders. Baes and Ramadan succeed at the challenging task of translating Duras’s distinctive style while also managing to preserve the author’s personality.
VERDICT An admirable translation that will enthrall fans of French literature as well as 20th-century history buffs.
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