All My Friends by Marie N’Diaye translated by Jordan Stump
Source: Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Publisher: Two Lines Press
In this brief yet poignant collection of short stories, author Marie N’Diaye takes us into the minds of the unstable and their fractured lives and relationships. From an aged professor haunted by a past student, to a former actress falling apart, or a mother abandoning her son. N’Diaye deftly examines the minds and thoughts of people who we’d rather brush under the carpet. This book will leave you unsettled, but it in incredibly well written (well translated) and gives the reader much to think about after each story.
In the first story, an aged professor falls in love with a former student, now his housekeeper. This is followed by a tale of a back and forth between a doctor and a patient over her dead husband. The third story, is remarkably sad, as it is about a young boy who wants to leave his impoverished life by becoming a sex slave, like his next door neighbor. Then Brulard’s Tale about a minor actress and her stream of consciousness thought patterns becoming more and more claustrophobic and paranoid. The last story is about a mentally challenged women who goes on a bus ride with her son, but knows that she will be returning without him.
The author has created five stories in which people lose their grip on reality, the most compelling of which was fourth story, Brulard’s Day. This story reminded me of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger. The inner workings of the mind of someone’s sanity slowly unraveling as bystanders watch, unaware or indifferent. At only 140 pages, this book is a quick read, but not a light read. It’s not exactly a beach read, with the gentle tide of waves in the background. It is more of a moody cafe book, with a few cups of coffee with some ambient music in the background.