Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Mystery Guest

The Mystery Guest, by Grégoire Bouillier.
5 out of 5 stylish tacos

Who knew that a neurotic with a bottle of ’64 Margaux could discover the meaning of life at French photograher Sophie Calle’s birthday party? In Grégoire Bouillier’s new memoir, anything is possible.

The story begins in late 1990, the day philosopher Michel Leiris died. Bouillier receives a phone call from his estranged ex-lover inviting him to attend Sophie Calle’s birthday party as that year’s mystery guest. Immediately, Bouillier’s narrative leaps from Leiris to the space probe Ulysses to Bouillier's current lover (who, as he recalls, “loved me despite my turtleneck-undershirts”).

Bouillier writes contemplatively, in a stream-of-consciousness style that delves into every nuance of his life. He draws parallels between his ex and Mrs. Dalloway, putting his former relationship to rest and finally changing the bathroom light bulb. “What was the point of living,” Bouillier writes, “if we spent our lives fulfilling the desires of inanimate objects?”

While taking forty pages to describe a ten-minute party might seem to make for some seriously daunting reading, every word Bouillier writes somehow flows cohesively. It’s magical. – John Zuarino

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