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Poetic novella set in PARIS

18th January 2022

Red Is My Heart by Antoine Laurain, poetic novella set in Paris. Illustrations by Le Sonneur.

Translated by Jane Aitken.

Poetic novella set in PARIS

You can always guarantee something different and exceptional from classic French author Antoine Laurain and in this short book he teams up with artist Le Sonneur.

Unrequited love – how do you express it, how can you convey the swirling emotions, the pain and the loss? The prose is interspersed with many drawings and prints, all in black and white, and very often with a touch of red (it’s like an intellectual Where’s Wally, spotting the sometimes larger, sometimes smaller red highlights). When there isn’t a red highlight, then things are low for the writer. Le Sonneur’s contributions are truly striking works of art.

The text is regular, then turns jagged, aligns to the right, turns upside down, changes size and inverts. The layout is a visual expression of the erratic nature of the loss of a relationship, the highs and lows and the longing. The writer sends a bouquet to someone long dead; driven by magical thinking he leaves behind and ‘loses’ a jacket that perhaps symbolised the break up. It brings to wonderful and poignant life the thought processes and actions of unrequited love, both poignant and whimsical. The power of the feelings comes through in the narrative of this novel, which is beautifully presented and bound in the review copy – which I imagine will translate into an excellent final copy to cherish – with a protective French flap that keeps the content bound and safe. It is beautifully translated.

Antoine Laurain has been lauded for his novels, which include The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook and we have, over the years, featured and reviewed several of them. He captures the elemental feel of France and Paris in particular, with deft humour and a precise hand. I would suggest it is worth picking this up in book rather than digital form because of the quality of the item and detail of the images.

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