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Confessions of a Snoop
am 28. Juni 2000
Read this. What distinguishes this book is the narrator, a male Nellie Dean. He is a "writer" who knows he's very, very good; who self-consciously describes the French landscape and people in literary terms - recasting events at will to demonstrate his authority and virtuosity; who pretends he's Stendahl when describing social situations; and who is ultimately confronted by something he is incapable of -- erotic love, not his own, but someone else's. The novel is about what he thinks is important, and how he is in a way undone by the affair of a young American drifter and a French shopgirl.
What are we to make of the narrator's descriptions of their love, their sex? Are they accurate or imagined? If they depict "real" events, how did he learn of them? Are we to believe what he tells us about how he came upon the information? Why can't we dismiss, why are we so drawn in by his exquisite, terse narrative when we also get the sense that he could well be a sicko voyeur? The fact of his sensitivity toward the lovers (perhaps he writes compassionately about the lovers to win his readers over) really shouldn't excuse his crimes, right?
All writers and readers of fiction, of course, are snoops. How delicious it is to spy on others, even if they are not real, and even when the act of spying (or reading) makes us aware of our own shortcomings. I was completely overwhelmed by this one.