The books to bring on a trip are one of the ways to stay on the journey. Accounts that show other people’s outlook on stories near or far, they become magnifying lenses on the present.
Squeezing through bodies and objects in the souks is a challenge. The sandals are dirty with mud and organic residues and the skin impregnated with strong, sweetish or savory scents. As I walk, no one fails to notice my being a European woman, let alone me... But now I'm used to it, I let the thoughts take me and I wonder if I am going like the novels I picked, and if they will nourish the emotion of reading.
On my return to the Riad, I thank Patricia, she’s one of the rather numerous French immigrant pieds-noirs who prefer to return to the south so as not to see the Macron government debacle (pied-noirs is the ambiguous nickname given by the French who live in Europe to the French based in Algeria), and I leave to start to read.
I begin with Choukri. In three days I finish it. I continue with Malouf and his more than five hundred pages keep me company until I return home. And to say that I had Jonathan Franzen's voluminous Purity with me, who would have thought it would not be enough?
Three beautiful, albeit imperfect, books. Three books extremely different from one another that I strongly suggest if you have plenty of time for a full reading immersion. Three books with profoundly different styles: gaunt and assertive in Choukri, measured and elegant in Malouf, fragmented and complex in Franzen. Three stories distant from each other: the first is autobiographical; the second is a true story (mémoire, fiction, historical account);and the third one full of styles borrowed from the writing of social networks or influenced by technology, coupled with almost philosophical digressions. Three novels that, like all good books, pushed me to look for information on the authors, their professional histories and some hints about their lives. (Incidentally, I'm not a fan of biographies, at all.) Often I prefer not to know anything about what is not public, or what the author wanted to say with his art, although I'm interested in understanding what they studied, how they worked to achieve the result I have before my eyes). Three beautiful and relevant covers: comics-dark for Choukri, atmospheric and slightly retro for Malouf, a rather contemporary visual of an overexposed photo-portrait for Franzen.
The books to bring on a trip are one of the ways to stay on the journey. Accounts that show other people’s outlook on stories near or far, they become magnifying lenses on the present. Causal encounters or pondered choices, physical objects or impulses on screens, the “good” books do not end with the last page: they are reborn in different forms in our words, in our points of view, in our history. They take us on the road wherever we are.