“The Mystery carnotzet”, a fantastic adventure with a Vaudois accent –

“The Mystery carnotzet”, a fantastic adventure with a Vaudois accent –

In a universe worthy of the films of Jacques Tati, Elodie Glerum and Guy Chevalley play the old card and sign “Le carnotzet Mystery”, a bilingual French-German novel, tender and witty.

1962, Lausanne. Strange things are happening in the basement of the insurance building La Vaudoise, on the Avenue de Cour. Is it sabotage by the “reds”? Mr. Sinister, an exemplary employee and a young father who is a bit conservative (but not too much), leads the investigation in spite of himself.

“Mystery carnotzet” is a commission that came from the artistic commission of La Vaudoise. During the Covid 19 pandemic, when Switzerland found itself closed, the well-known insurance company wanted to offer its staff a literary soap opera, the writing of which they entrusted to Elodie Glerum and Guy Chevalley, members of the literary collective AJAR.

Realistic historical context

For five months, the staff were able to discover every week in their mailboxes an episode of “The Adventure of Mr. Sinister”, a fictitious employee of the insurance company, who led an investigation in a building designed in the 1950s by the famous Swiss architect Jean Tschumi, who would later design the Nestlé building in Vevey and that of the WHO in Geneva.

Futuristic decor typical of the corporate architecture movement, born in the United States, and where everything is done to promote efficiency at work: the company cafeteria, open space offices and the collective serving of coffee by secretaries, among others. And in order for the atmosphere to stick to historical reality, the artistic commission of La Vaudoise did not hesitate to open the doors of its archives.

We worked hard to integrate Mr. Sinistre into his historical context, to know what his life might have been like, what the city looked like at the time, and also to take into account the progress that the Vaudoise building represented.

Guy Chevalley and Elodie Glérum

Double whammy

This decor, witness to an age entirely devoted to progress, yet still very backward in terms of women’s rights (for example, when two Vaudoise employees married, Madame was politely dismissed to stay at home), is an opportunity for Elodie Glerum and Guy Chevalley to tell the story of two periods: the 60s of Jean-Charles Sinistre on the one hand and the approach of the 2020s for Cosima Sinistre, his granddaughter, also employed by the insurance company, on the other.

If Jean-Charles does not like Joan Baez or communists, he is not really against the progressive visions of his wife Gabi, in whom some of his colleagues see a dangerous feminist. For her part, Cosima seems to have inherited her grandfather’s professional spirit, but is reluctant to settle into the comfort of the relationship.

Will the mysterious carnotzet allow the ancestor to communicate with his granddaughter, in order to solve the investigation together? Mystery and gumball might be the most appropriate answer to this question.

Today, the pandemic seems to be behind us, and “Carnotzet Mystère” appears as a bilingual novel, translated by Sabrina Schärli, for German-speaking employees of the insurance company. The French version on the one hand and the German version on the other are united in the same work, head to tail. In the middle of the book, archival photos of La Vaudoise are decorated with captions that correspond to the plot. Sort of the perfect break to enjoy casimir rice between two readings.

Ellen Ichters/aq

Guy Chevalley and Elodie Glerum, “The Mystery of Le Carnotzet,” ed. favorite

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