How does fiction work

Between fiction and realityA literary game with identities

"Mademoiselle" no longer feels like working. It's always the same with jobs: you make an effort for a few weeks, you are friendly to the boss and forgiving with your colleagues. And then, sooner or later, a deadly routine sets in. "Mademoiselle" ended her most recent job as a saleswoman in a chain of stores for household appliances in Le Havre in northern France, both spontaneously and radically:

"She successfully managed the probationary period, then the question of vacation arose. [...] When she announced her plans to the head of department, Monsieur Baridou had said no. No, Mademoiselle, it is impossible for you to take vacation in the summer. Now Mademoiselle had just demonstrated one to a stout customer who was looking for a hand mixer but ended up not buying it. So she still had this device in her hand and immediately raised it threateningly at the head of department RPM set and screaming Are you sure, Monsieur Baridou? Are you sure I won't be able to travel in summer? "

Time for an escape into the unknown

"Mademoiselle" is fired, she has no more money, and soon she threatens to be thrown out of her apartment. High time for a new life, for an escape into the unknown:

"The decision of my main character to assume a different identity is a political decision. After this talented young woman has worked in some jobs, she realizes that she has no professional future prospects. The economic pressure on the individual and the brutality in the world of work grow noticeably, and not everyone is able to deal with it. So my 'Mademoiselle' decides to break out of this life, to reinvent herself, to take on a new identity overnight satisfactory existence. "

"Mademoiselle" decides to be an author with immediate effect, of course without having written a word. She takes the name Bérénice Beaurivage, a writer from a film by Eric Rohmer. As a freshly baked Bérénice, she now strolls through the streets of Le Havre, pensively drifting past the harbor through the day. In a bar she forks up a ship steward, spends the night with him after a few drinks and then relieves him of his money.

"I'm interested in characters who rebel"

"This young woman makes a radical decision at first, but then she gets tangled up in her own game. She wants to radically change her life, but is soon faced with material constraints. So she starts stealing something here and there, selling hers Body and becomes a bit criminal. She never asks for a moment whether she's acting morally or not. And I actually find that rather sympathetic. I'm interested in characters who rebel and resist. "

The more the young woman settles into her new identity as a writer "Bérénice Beaurivage", the more weird the little adventures become in her new skin, the more she seems to lose touch with reality. She increasingly experiences the outside world as a backdrop, her fellow human beings become extras for her.

Bérénice drives seemingly aimlessly from Le Havre to the Breton port city of Saint-Nazaire. Here, too, she wanders between faceless concrete buildings of post-war architecture, trying to find something to hold onto in her new role based on objective information about the city and its history. Rather by chance, Bérénice finally begins a love affair with a ship inspector who can endure her, at least for the time being. The only place to take a breather from her masquerade is in the hotel.

The role becomes an obsession

"In the morning you have good ideas, you have to make plans. (She takes a small piece of bread from the basket.) So that you can leave everything behind, start from scratch. (Spread the mini butter from the shimmering gold packaging on it. ) The full program with your new name. (Spread a portion of jam on the bread.) Become the woman you imagine when you hear the six syllables. "

The role of the writer "Bérénice Beaurivage" becomes an obsession for "Mademoiselle". Julia Deck translates this game of identities into literature using cinematic means. The reader increasingly follows the action as if through the lens of a camera:

"There is a natural relationship between cinema and literature. In both cases, the same questions are at stake: When does a scene begin? When does it end? How are the scenes put together during editing? Cinematic influences were just as important to my book as literary ones especially the films by Eric Rohmer. His characters know that they are playing, that they are on a stage. I like it when you don't let yourself be completely lulled by fiction. After all, it's about playing! "

"My novel works like a puzzle"

And that is exactly what Julia Deck does with her characters and of course with the reader: She plays with fiction and reality. The author, who actually works as a journalist for the industry magazine "Livres-Hebdo", arranges set pieces of objective information about the locations of her story into a mosaic of radically subjective perception. Just as Deck's "Mademoiselle" staggers more and more through her life, the reader wanders through a labyrinth of plot elements, different narrative perspectives, flashbacks and flashbacks.

Who is the mysterious journalist Blandine who threatens to expose Bérénice's invented identity as a writer? Could she be just another facet of Bérénice's own crumbling personality? Nothing is certain in this artfully composed novel.

"My novel works like a puzzle. Each chapter is coherent, the characters and scenes have their place. But inconsistencies occur in the arrangement of the five chapters. It remains unclear in which chronological order they are. In the end Several versions of the story are conceivable of the book. A book that chews everything in front of me, the characters, the plot, the meaning of it all, gives me the feeling of suffocating. I need space to continue living with the characters and the story when I am I closed the book. "

"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

It is not for nothing that Julia Deck's novels appear at the French publishing house "Les Editions de Minuit", home of the great authors of the "nouveau roman" from the 1950s, who drove the game with narration to formalistic heights. "Winter Triangle", the title of Deck's novel, not only describes a constellation of three stars in the northern sky, but is also the gravitational field in which the plot elements revolve around each other: three port cities, an amorous triangular relationship and a prevented writer who appears to be weightless their own universe slides. In the end, her escape into the identity of the writer Bérénice Beaurivage threatens to fail. But by then "Mademoiselle" has long since reinvented herself:

"In the end it seems as if the young woman failed her escape attempt. Or did she get a little further in her search for a new identity? That cannot be said so clearly. This is life: you want to change , try something new, and in most cases it fails. Then you start all over again. In the spirit of Samuel Beckett: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' "

Julia Deck: "Winter Triangle"
From the French by Antje Peter,
Wagenbach Verlag, Berlin.