Tuesday, June 14, 2016

EXQUISITE CORPSE by Pénélope Bagieu

The tagline for this one reads "Dying to be an author", and it only makes sense once you hit the ending, pretty much.

With the title of Exquisite Corpse, I had partially anticipated a collaboratively written manuscript, since the term "exquisite corpse" or "exquisite cadaver" is applied to stories that are compiled in sequence by a variety of authors, usually using some particular rule or rules that have been agreed upon. This book is really and truly not that, and yet the title makes complete sense. I would, however, have to spoil the ending for you, and I prefer not to.

The main character of this graphic novel is Zoe, a 22-year old who works a crap job and lives in a crappy apartment with a truly crap boyfriend. Until, that is, the day she notices a guy watching her from an apartment during her lunch break. And decides to ask if she can use his bathroom, because she really has to go.

That's how she meets famous author Thomas Rocher. He's not just famous, he's SUPER famous, only being a non-reader, Zoe's never heard of him. It's immediately obvious that he is a secretive guy, and eventually obvious that he has a huge, actual secret.

He is also completely blocked.

Meeting Zoe sparks something in him, and he begins his new manuscript in earnest. And Zoe becomes his live-in girlfriend as well as his muse. Of course, that becomes complicated when Zoe wants to go out with him, since he refuses to leave his apartment. And more complicated still when his estranged wife shows up in the apartment. (Turns out she is also his editor.) Both women are unhappy with the situation, and the resolution of the problem is rich indeed.

The book contains language and nudity and a real jerk of a boyfriend. It is also riveting and really well-produced (lovely use of color throughout). It was translated from the original French by Alexis Siegel. The French version, Cadavre exquis, debuted in 2010. The English version from 01:FirstSecond came out last year.

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