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The Mystery Guest: An Account

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The Mystery Guest: An Account Cover

ISBN13: 9780374185701
ISBN10: 0374185700
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Obsession is a dish best served with a side of self-effacing humor. So it is, anyway, with the French novelist Grégoire Bouillier's charming and neurotic The Mystery Guest....After a few hours with this little book, one can't help but feel that every ordinary object and exchange is alive with meaning." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

"Grégoire Bouillier's handsomely packaged American debut is neither novel nor memoir, but 'an account.'...The Mystery Guest inscribes itself in a tradition of French internal exploration/excavation that runs through Montaigne, Rousseau, Proust, Michel Leiris, and many, many others who have questioned the fundamental notion that experience is what we have to say about it." Laird Hunt, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling — not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd never met.

This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart, learned to love again, stopped wearing turtlenecks, regained his faith in literature, participated in a work of performance art by mistake, and spent his rent money on a bottle of 1964 bordeaux that nobody ever drank. The Mystery Guest is, in the words of L'Humanité, a work of "fiendish wit and refinement." It pushes the conventions of autobiography (and those great themes of French literature: love and aging) to an absurd, poignant, and very funny conclusion. This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today.

Review:

"In this slim and lyrical memoir, French writer Bouillier tells of the moment when he received a phone call in his Paris apartment in the fall of 1990 ('It was the day Michel Leiris died'). Bouillier was 30 years old and asleep in all his clothes, and it had been years since the unnamed woman on the other end of the line had left him 'without a word... the way they abandon dogs when summer comes.' Rather than calling to reconnect or explain, she called to invite him to a party, several weeks hence, at the artist Sophie Calle's apartment, where he was to serve as the 'Mystery Guest.' What Bouillier (his untranslated Rapport sur moi won the Prix de Flore in 2002) makes of this simple setup is pure Gallic magic — a mix of hapless obsession, sophisticated abstraction, unearned righteousness and hyperarticulate self-doubt — as he tries to guess the woman's motivations and get a hold of his own feelings. The book's four short parts (beautifully rendered by Stein) — phone call, preparation, party and aftermath — are small miracles of Montaigne-like self-exploration. Reading as Bouillier moves through the light and dark of love, through its forms of 'maniacal sublimation' and through its mystery, is arresting. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A skillful blurring of art and reality...beguilingly spare....The deceptively effortless translation by Stein renders this a treasure at once absurd and heartbreaking." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Somewhere out in the woeful constellation of literary comparison, a lonely satellite drifts between remote stars — Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, The Stranger and When Harry Met Sally — beguilingly reflecting the distant light of each. Taped to the bottom of that satellite is this perfect little book, a message to extraterrestrial intelligence that says: we are human, heartbroken, grim and funny in our despair, yet hopeful and miracle-prone, and some of us are French." John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise

Review:

"I woke up the other morning and started to read this marvelous book. I stayed in bed until I read the last page. I could not for the life of me think of anything in the world I wanted to do but read this book. I am tempted to stay in bed until Grégoire Bouillier produces another one." Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs

Review:

"'Just when you think you've thought of everything,' Grégoire Bouillier writes, 'you forget the book sitting right there on your bedside table.' This should be that book. It is intelligent, compact, and curious, like a good hunting dog scrambling up a tree." Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook

Review:

"In The Mystery Guest, Grégoire Bouillier has been ditched by a girlfriend in the way another man might be abandoned by God: does the universe make sense any more? Paranoid, badly dressed and often drunk, madly hopeful one moment and howlingly distressed the next, Bouillier makes for an unforgettable narrator, and Lorin Stein's fine and resourceful translation succeeds in capturing the mood of poised hysteria. This book goes a long way toward confirming the truth of what Beckett said: there is nothing funnier than unhappiness." Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision

Synopsis:

This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today. This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart and learned to love again.

Synopsis:

When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling--not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd never met.

This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart, learned to love again, stopped wearing turtlenecks, regained his faith in literature, participated in a work of performance art by mistake, and spent his rent money on a bottle of 1964 bordeaux that nobody ever drank. The Mystery Guest is, in the words of L'Humanité, a work of "fiendish wit and refinement." It pushes the conventions of autobiography (and those great themes of French literature: love and aging) to an absurd, poignant, and very funny conclusion. This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today.

About the Author

Grégoire Bouillier's first book, Rapport sur moi, received the 2002 Prix de Flore for an author of outstanding promise. The Mystery Guest (L’invité mystère) is his second book. He lives in Paris.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

innerlibrary, October 26, 2006 (view all comments by innerlibrary)
If you like to read books for the author's choice of words, sentence structure and slick-witted humor (you think to yourself, ah, yes!), then you will likely love this book. It is a short read and at the end you find yourself wishing it kept going, but still somehow the perfect quick dip into fiction.

It is written in first person narrative (which can be a reason to read it right there) and the author is analyzing his own mental health after being left by his girlfriend. His analysis is borderline absurd and yet universal. He actually thinks the thoughts most of us are afraid to dissect to that level. (A hilarious account of men who wear turtleneck undershirts. Another of why he didn't want to replace his light bulb and the revelation that led to him finally purchasing a new one.)

The quick novel follows the "Mystery Guest" for over ten years as he moves from one tangent of his life to another. A lovely ending ties it all up nicely. A delicious little read!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(46 of 86 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374185701
Subtitle:
An Account
Author:
Bouillier, Gregoire
Translator:
Stein, Lorin
Author:
Stein, Lorin
Author:
Bouillier, Grgoire
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
BIO026000
Subject:
Bouillier, Gregoire
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
August 22, 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Frontispiece
Pages:
128
Dimensions:
7.78 x 5.22 x 0.69 in

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

The Mystery Guest: An Account Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 128 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374185701 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this slim and lyrical memoir, French writer Bouillier tells of the moment when he received a phone call in his Paris apartment in the fall of 1990 ('It was the day Michel Leiris died'). Bouillier was 30 years old and asleep in all his clothes, and it had been years since the unnamed woman on the other end of the line had left him 'without a word... the way they abandon dogs when summer comes.' Rather than calling to reconnect or explain, she called to invite him to a party, several weeks hence, at the artist Sophie Calle's apartment, where he was to serve as the 'Mystery Guest.' What Bouillier (his untranslated Rapport sur moi won the Prix de Flore in 2002) makes of this simple setup is pure Gallic magic — a mix of hapless obsession, sophisticated abstraction, unearned righteousness and hyperarticulate self-doubt — as he tries to guess the woman's motivations and get a hold of his own feelings. The book's four short parts (beautifully rendered by Stein) — phone call, preparation, party and aftermath — are small miracles of Montaigne-like self-exploration. Reading as Bouillier moves through the light and dark of love, through its forms of 'maniacal sublimation' and through its mystery, is arresting. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Obsession is a dish best served with a side of self-effacing humor. So it is, anyway, with the French novelist Grégoire Bouillier's charming and neurotic The Mystery Guest....After a few hours with this little book, one can't help but feel that every ordinary object and exchange is alive with meaning." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day" by , "Grégoire Bouillier's handsomely packaged American debut is neither novel nor memoir, but 'an account.'...The Mystery Guest inscribes itself in a tradition of French internal exploration/excavation that runs through Montaigne, Rousseau, Proust, Michel Leiris, and many, many others who have questioned the fundamental notion that experience is what we have to say about it." (read the entire Rain Taxi review)
"Review" by , "A skillful blurring of art and reality...beguilingly spare....The deceptively effortless translation by Stein renders this a treasure at once absurd and heartbreaking."
"Review" by , "Somewhere out in the woeful constellation of literary comparison, a lonely satellite drifts between remote stars — Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, The Stranger and When Harry Met Sally — beguilingly reflecting the distant light of each. Taped to the bottom of that satellite is this perfect little book, a message to extraterrestrial intelligence that says: we are human, heartbroken, grim and funny in our despair, yet hopeful and miracle-prone, and some of us are French."
"Review" by , "I woke up the other morning and started to read this marvelous book. I stayed in bed until I read the last page. I could not for the life of me think of anything in the world I wanted to do but read this book. I am tempted to stay in bed until Grégoire Bouillier produces another one."
"Review" by , "'Just when you think you've thought of everything,' Grégoire Bouillier writes, 'you forget the book sitting right there on your bedside table.' This should be that book. It is intelligent, compact, and curious, like a good hunting dog scrambling up a tree."
"Review" by , "In The Mystery Guest, Grégoire Bouillier has been ditched by a girlfriend in the way another man might be abandoned by God: does the universe make sense any more? Paranoid, badly dressed and often drunk, madly hopeful one moment and howlingly distressed the next, Bouillier makes for an unforgettable narrator, and Lorin Stein's fine and resourceful translation succeeds in capturing the mood of poised hysteria. This book goes a long way toward confirming the truth of what Beckett said: there is nothing funnier than unhappiness."
"Synopsis" by , This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today. This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart and learned to love again.
"Synopsis" by ,
When the phone rang on a gloomy fall afternoon in 1990, Grégoire Bouillier had no way of knowing that it was the woman who'd left him, without warning, ten years before. And he couldn't have guessed why she was calling--not to apologize for, or explain, the way she'd vanished from his life, but to invite him to a party. A birthday party. For a woman he'd never met.

This is the story of how one man got over a broken heart, learned to love again, stopped wearing turtlenecks, regained his faith in literature, participated in a work of performance art by mistake, and spent his rent money on a bottle of 1964 bordeaux that nobody ever drank. The Mystery Guest is, in the words of L'Humanité, a work of "fiendish wit and refinement." It pushes the conventions of autobiography (and those great themes of French literature: love and aging) to an absurd, poignant, and very funny conclusion. This translation marks the English-language debut of an iconoclast who has attracted one of the most passionate cult followings in French literature today.

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