The End of Eddy
April 1, 2018 11:52 AM - by Édouard Louis - Subscribe

An autobiographical novel about growing up gay in a working-class town in Picardy. “Every morning in the bathroom I would repeat the same phrase to myself over and over again . . . Today I’m really gonna be a tough guy.” Growing up in a poor village in northern France, all Eddy Bellegueule wanted was to be a man in the eyes of his family and neighbors. But from childhood, he was different―“girlish,” intellectually precocious, and attracted to other men.
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total)
I was really looking forward to reading this, as I have a certain weakness for grim, small town kitchen sink stuff. I also enjoy being immersed in less obvious corners of modern life. And provincial 1990s France is a world I didn't know much about.

Fairly quickly, the author's sharp, matter-of-fact recounting of his youth (because this is as clear as work of autofiction as you are likely to see) impressed me. His life was painful and full of small humiliations and he renders these with unflinching immediacy.

Thing is, after a while, I started to get the impression that the entire book could have been replaced with "Everyone I grew up with or around was a stupid asshole, not that they could help it, I suppose, stupid assholery being cycical."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:56 AM on April 1, 2018

There is a part where the narrator starts in on his mother, describing her many failings, among them a tendency to monologue endlessly, recounting anecdotes of her life that he supposes were meant to be interesting or funny, but seem to recounted just so that she can bounce her sound off of other people and admire the sound of her own voice.

So kids are sometimes like their folks, you know.

The prose is good, even if it's remarkably one note. And LGBT people who grew up in similarly backwards small towns may find some painful deja vu in his attempts to grapple with the shame and unease of his nascent sexuality.

I finished it, but could not shake the idea that it would have been a better book if he'd written it 15 years later, when he had a bit more perspective, and was more willing to put away his verbal knives and try to find more dimension to his experiences... or even to fictionalize them further to find something less grim and relentlessly downbeat than what seem to have been the actual circumstances of his life.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:06 PM on April 1, 2018

Remember being 15 and imagining writing a thinly veiled autobiographical novel that would detail with merciless, cutting prose the many failings of your stupid family and your stupid classmates, and your stupid neighbors?

Tip your hat if you like, because Édouard Louis totally did that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2018

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