Not One Day by Anne Garréta 

★★★★☆ (4/5)

A non-fiction veiled fictitiously. Anne Garréta’s stunning prose brings to life the mind of a writer, mired in an upheaval of a imagespersonal project where she intends to deliberate on past infatuations. We come across a myriad of unknown love interests, crushes, secret admirers and objects of affections; delve into the writers psyche of emotional attachments, value of arts and sentiments in life. The structure of prose is terse, given the writers Oulipian affiliations, which threads from one end to another often leaving massive blanks in the midst. These blanks are meant to be filled in by the reader, as suggested by the Afterword. In “Not One Day” Garréta manages to fuse fiction with truth so much so that the reader cannot decipher the two apart…and neither can the writer.

• What’s to be done with our inclinations? Why not write something different, differently than you usually do? Once more, but with a new twist, rid yourself of your self. Shed the accoutrements of this disentangling, keep at bay a little longer, if you can, who you think you are. Since you can no longer conceive of writing except in long and intricate constructions, isn’t it time to go against the grain

• All we seem to do nowadays is tell and retell the stories of our lives

• Writing at the whim of memory twists and turns on uncertainty. Like desire itself, never assured of its end or its object

• From day to day, you would have had nothing to report: nothing ever happens to you except in remembering. You only grasp the moment in distant memory, once oblivion has given things, beings, events, the density that they never have in the broad evanescence of daylight

• In this regard, desire and pain are alike—your accident taught you this. Only when they take you by surprise do they get out of hand

• Memory of a body: inscribed in a given space, anchored in light

• You witnessed, powerless, motionless, your own colonization by an inexplicable and obscene desire that your willpower was failing to keep in check, to contain, to purge

• the calm of the night, the weightlessness of the air, the layers of light vacillating all around; the complicity brought on by long silences, solitude, altitude, the distant horizon?

• But here’s the paradox: it’s in fleeing before the invasion of material life, multiplying the exiles, the trips when you rejoiced at the thought of casting everything off, that you find yourself once more multiplying the constraints. You buy—for you wouldn’t be able to resist the desire of a volume that promises flights of fancy or thought—books you can never resolve to leave behind

• We merely trade one blindness for another. For lack of the common blindness, we will let a singular lucidity blind us

• Here we go. We’re floating together in the warm bath of self revelations and secrets disclosed in the fiction of hidden faces

• he had seen shores empty of inhabitants looking at seas empty of ships, and whose hosts, to ward off the anxiety of these infinite spaces they are too few to populate, strive to cover up under sprawling suburbs, distraught metropolises, shopping malls rolled out over acres and acres, a blanket of concrete, parking lots, ramps, bypasses, asphalt. Lay the foundation to cement our disappearance, quickly, for its grip, imminent, threatens

• The friendship had probably, from the start, been built on a basis of subtle desire, of a potential desire that good sense, affinity, tenderness had managed to tame, divert, shape into something else.

• The order of what ensued is vague. There is no time in your memory, nothing but places and between them passages that open only to close again

• There is no one to resuscitate, and it’s because the memory is still alive that it resists autopsy and decimation over the course of a story.

• You should have suspected it at the first word written tonight. You should have, in rereading that correspondence a few months ago, understood it all. The dialect in which you wrote to each other is the dialect of all your loves: a chimera of French and English, strewn with bilingual wordplay, vertigos of language, trepidation over meaning

• You had forgotten that the point of this instruction was never to instill an affinity for the subject but to make it into a pure instrument of selection

• The mystery of her identity, the search for signs, the hermeneutic passion it inspired in you, made that semester of self-defense the most arousing erotic experience of your life. An eroticism that was all the more strange since it never managed to fasten itself or settle on any one body, but instead was bound to all of them, and because it was fluid, vacillating, drove you to pay to each of them an intense and infinite attention

• Friendship seems to you today the most difficult thing in the world. You attempt it, and almost always doubt its reality

• Our habits prompt our judgments more than our tastes do

• Ironic aporia of sovereignty: Mustn’t we get down on our knees to ascend to the throne?

• As for writing every day or even every night, that was rather optimistic… Did you really bank on so easily curing yourself of your cardinal vice—procrastination?

• Generating randomness exceeds the forces of the human mind: it takes machines. The animal exudes sense and determination like it pisses, like it speaks, like it breathe

• Hadn’t you taken care that these stories be abstract enough to prevent a positive identification of their subjects?

• But who’s to say that your critique of desire isn’t just another tool of its empire?

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