Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Nancy Amphoux
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First published in France in 1985, The Bathroom was Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s debut novel, and it heralded a new generation of innovative French literature. In this playful and perplexing book, we meet a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom. As he sits in his tub meditating on existence (and refusing to tell us his name), the people around him―his girlfriend, Edmondsson, the Polish painters in his kitchen―each in their own way further enables his peculiar lifestyle, supporting his eccentric quest for immobility. But an invitation to the Austrian embassy shakes up his stable world, prompting him to take a risk and leave his bathroom . . .
succession in a movie theater, the spectacle would, I think, soon pall. If on the other hand the final sounds of their suffering in the last five seconds of their lives were recorded and then mixed on a single tape and presented to the public at full volume in a concert hall or opera, the whole of their wheezes, rattles, screams—A distant shot of a soccer stadium interrupted my thoughts, two teams were warming up on the field. I leaped up and, squatting in front of the set, tried to turn up the
sunglasses outlined against it. She was at a table off to one side, under an umbrella, with a fat blond man who was sulking. As soon as we came up to them she introduced me, taking off her glasses and smiling broadly; he was her older brother. I said I was pleased to meet him. The fat blond man was impassive on his chair and did not stir, but he did look a little put out when my doctor leaned down to kiss his cheek. We sat beside them, laying our rackets on the table. While my doctor retied his
explained to me that their daughter was spending the day with one of her grandmothers. 27. The gate led to three identical clay courts, which had just been watered. We walked along the edge of the first two and joined my doctor, who was already practicing his serve, in profile upon the base line. His wife put her handbag down on the sidelines, arranged her hair into a chignon, and, taking short, graceful steps, went to stand opposite him. She hardly had a foot on the court when he fired off an
parents. 6. Mom brought me pastries. Sitting on the bidet with the open box wedged between her legs, she arranged the pastries in a soup plate. I thought she seemed ill at ease, she’d been avoiding my eyes ever since she came in. She raised her head with a weary sadness, made as if to say something but didn’t, picked out the eclair, and bit into it. You need some distraction, she told me, sports, I don’t know. She wiped the corners of her mouth with her glove. There’s something suspicious about
the couple on the landing. I went quickly down the last steps that separated us, slowed my gait, and, arranging the towel around my waist as best I could, turned the corner, assuming the most nonchalant air in the world. I found myself in the hotel bar. It was virtually empty. A couple sitting on a lounge seat turned to stare at me. The barman did not look up. 9. The bathroom walls were light green, the paint blistered in spots. After turning the key in the door I took off my underpants and hung