Posts tagged ‘Lila says’

April 8, 2012

Lila Dit Quoi?!

Quelle putain de bon livre!

Where to start with this? I could write about the idea of masculinity in this book; or about the warped conception of sex we’ve been sold and how easily the book calls it into question; or about the dispossessed Arab youth in Parisian suburbs in the mid nineties (about the time La Haine came out); or the limits of idealization; or perhaps the role of writing in a person’s life; or the relation writing and literature have to real life; or the emerging (and hence threatening) female subject in male literature…

But I won’t. I feel it would just ruin the magic, the pure joy, the sheer pleasure, the immanent delight, the elating and surprising wonder I felt reading this book.

Instead, I will sell you on it the way the book was sold in manuscript form to its publishers. (In my own translation) this is what it says when you open the cover:

Note from the editor
The story of the manuscript of this book deserves to be told.
It was delivered directly into our hands by a lawyer. Its author, Chimo, whose name is found in the text, wanted to stay anonymous. We have never met him and know nothing about him.
The manuscript was made up of two red Clairefontaine notebooks, with squared lines on its pages. It did not have a title. We found the phrase “Lila Says” written in capital letters in the margin, atop of page 7. It seemed to us to fit the need.
Chimo’s handwriting, for which he used Bic pens, was difficult to decipher. We settled for correcting spelling errors for the final manuscript. In places, we thought it necessary to retouch the punctuation, which was rather spotty. We have left unchanged one or two passages even though we were unsure of their meaning.
Despite the claims to sincerity in the text, we have come up with our own hypothesis of mystification. We were split in the office on this question. Was it the work of an established writer or the first novel of a talented young writer (in the text, Chimo says he is nineteen and a half)?
Whatever the case, the surprising literary quality of the story, whether or not a ruse, made us publish it.

And indeed made me read it!

They also offer an image of the first page of the manuscript: