In my memory…

I translated this short essay from Thomas Bronnec in honor of Gallimard’s editor Aurélien Masson, who received the David Goodis Award at NOIRCON 2016. Space and cost prevented its inclusion in the conference’s program.

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In my memory, it’s a space of greenery with a table and chairs, set on gravel and I no longer remember what we were drinking – if we were drinking something. An oasis, a palm grove, a place unaffected by time and turmoil where I hear, for the first time, someone telling me about this girl, the Girl from Hanh Hoa, and tells me that he loves her but that he wasn’t going to adopt her. I don’t know now whether he is wearing one of his rock or punk t-shirts or whether he has his Perfecto leather jacket on his shoulders, but I know that I’m listening to him and I’m looking at him and what I didn’t forget, his smile and face – I see them as if it was yesterday and I say to myself that if it is my words and my story that trigger such an enthusiasm then everything is allowed. Eight years later, this time it isn’t greenery but a text message and then a little later, a table and other chairs. And this time I remember what we are drinking. And I’m hearing him again talking about these girls, about other girls and about the men who betrayed them, but if it were just that, stories about girls, we wouldn’t even be going on about this. It’s a revelation and this revelation, I still want to see it on that face, no matter what triggers or sets it in motion because those flashes he always has and that bright everything around, he deserves them. He deserves them and more because he’s the only one who knows how to talk like that about your stories and your characters, and sometimes even better than you. How lucky I am that he was on the same path where I was, one day, and that he stopped.

bronnec-gallimardDans mon souvenir, c’est un espace de verdure avec une table et des chaises, posées sur du gravillon et je ne me souviens plus ce qu’on boit – si on boit quelque chose. Une oasis, une palmeraie, un endroit à part hors du temps et du tumulte où pour la première fois j’entends quelqu’un me parler de cette fille, la Fille du Hanh Hoa et c’est pour me dire qu’il l’aime mais qu’il ne va pas l’adopter. Je ne sais plus s’il porte un de ses t-shirts rock ou punk ni s’il a son cuir ou son perfecto sur les épaules mais je sais que je l’écoute et que je le regarde et ce que je n’ai pas oublié, c’est son sourire et son visage – je les revois comme si c’était hier et je me dis que si ce sont mes mots et mon histoire qui déclenchent un tel enthousiasme alors tout est permis. Il faut attendre presque huit ans et cette fois ce n’est pas un espace de verdure mais un SMS, et puis un peu plus tard une autre table avec d’autres chaises et cette fois je me souviens bien de ce qu’on boit. Et je l’entends encore me parler de ces filles, d’autres filles et des hommes qui les ont trahies mais si c’était seulement ça, des histoires de filles, on n’en serait pas là. C’est une illumination et cette illumination j’ai encore envie de la voir sur ce visage, peu importe qui la déclenche et qui l’enclenche, il les mérite ces fulgurances qu’il a en permanence et qui éclairent tous les alentours. Il les mérite et au-delà parce qu’il est le seul à savoir parler comme ça de vos histoires et de vos personnages, et parfois même mieux que vous. Il est le seul et j’ai cette chance là qu’il ait été sur le même chemin que moi, un jour, et qu’il se soit arrêté.

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Photo Catherine Hélie © Éditions Gallimard

© Thomas Bronnec. Titles at Gallimard.

© Translation from the French by Gabriel Valjan

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About gabrielswharf

gabriel’s wharf is a blog on the random thoughts and writings of author Gabriel Valjan. Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize and he won the inaugural Lit Bits Contest at ZOUCH. His stories continue to appear online and in print journals. Winter Goose Publishing publishes his Roma Series: Book 1, Roma, Underground (February 2012), Book 2, Wasp’s Nest (November 2012), and Book 3, Threading the Needle (October 2013). Books 4, Turning to Stone and 5, Corporate Citizen are scheduled for 2015. His novels are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in trade-paperback and in e-book for Kindle and Nook. Rachel Anderson of RMA Publicity is his publicist. His website is at http://www.gabrielvaljan.com
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