“When I mix my life with fiction, I mix fiction with my life”
To receive the Renaudot award is a true symbol. How did you react when you found out that this book won?
It’s special. I have experience with awards, I received Femina ten years ago, which I experienced very differently. What happened with Renaudot was that, in my head, I didn’t have him. Sometimes we have a little voice telling us that there is still a chance. And that’s where I really killed that little voice, because I’m probably going to have one at some point, and my editors warned me that it was going to be complicated. And when they tell you it will be “complicated”means he’s dead…
I was in Olivier Nor’s office (executive director of Éditions Grasset, acting editor) Thursday morning was a bit like Aunt Adele’s funeral. There was another author in the final (Claudie Hunzinger, sa The dog at my deskWomen’s Award 2022, Note). But we know it’s always a lottery. That during the time of reflection things always happen that were not planned. Not played. As Manuel Carcassonne said (Director of Naklada Stock, etc.) : “If it was rigged, we’d still have it.” But I was grieving, I packed my bags, I was practically leaving. And suddenly the phone rang. Obviously I was happy, because I haven’t received an award in a while.
The Renaudot award is still a real recognition…
What made me happy was that I realized after the fact that there was a vote that relied heavily on the book. In other words, there are jurors who a priori were not really for me. Nevertheless, the book had been read, and I felt that it had been.
I really felt it was his (sic), not editorial stories or whims (as in Jayne Mansfield in 1967for example […]).
The fact that the jury of quite a few literary awards awards the book is a pleasure. […] At my age, it’s also nice to think that this book was eventually read and appreciated, and that’s what decided it. That’s why I’m happy.
I decided to age the hero in relation to me, and moreover, not to give him a name. I didn’t want to stick a fake nose on him like I sometimes did in some fictions. I got old telling myself that in any case the story is scandalous. It was like that at the time, but it was like that for a while, today it is even more so. It might even make my case worse.
What about this romantic dimension in Performance?
The problem with autofiction (because it is to some extent, let’s be honest) is that the fiction wears off very quickly. The man very quickly prevails over the author. What I sometimes complain about in autofiction, and especially authors I like, is that they are a bit alike gets up . We will listen to the author talk about it. However, I wanted my book not to be “old-fashioned”, but to have a romantic and literary dimension.
When I mix my life with fiction, I also mix fiction with my life. I’m thinking about Lolita,which also influenced me a lot a novel by Vladimir Nabokov what Stanley Kubrick’s film. I live things in a literary way, I live my life as if it were romantic. That’s what amuses me the most. Ultimately, my life serves to fuel my fiction, and my fiction serves to fuel my life.
I wrote Eve, which was also autofiction to a certain extent. This book is almost a sequelEve , if I dared a little. I wouldn’t want the autofiction side to win.
“I live things in a literary way, I live my life as if it were romantic. »
All this can, in spite of everything, contribute to strengthening the literary “character”…
I’m an author we know, but whose books we haven’t necessarily read, at least in the middle of a bookstore. So we have preconceived ideas that are not always good about me. As for me, what I normally love is literature, so from the moment the book is read (and I hope it will be a little more this time), and here it is.
Most Performanceit is not autofiction, because I, Simon Liberati, do not say my name. I am not the hero of this book. The hero of this book is a guy who calls himself “Mimi” after his girlfriend, which is not a diminutive of Simon. In addition, he is 71 years old (Simon Liberati is 62 years old, etc.), and the poor guy can’t write anymore, and I, just the opposite. So we are not actually in reality.
“I’m an author we know, but whose books we haven’t necessarily read, at least in the middle of a bookstore. »
Two stories intertwine, between reality and fiction, and at the same time the main character lives a love story with Esther, his 23-year-old daughter-in-law: isn’t that what connects these two characters? isn’t the relationship on time? The time that passes, the time that remains…
Yes, the time that passes, the time that remains… The time that passes is Esther, a young girl who has the beauty of the devil. It’s a concern that’s very strong today among people born around 2000. The impression is that if you haven’t done something by 24 or 25, it’s dead. Which was not really the case in my time. We preferred to think we must be dead at 24.
So there is indeed this idea that will disappear, this diabolical beauty. There is Doctor Faust, that is, Dom Juan, on the one hand, who is called by the demons when he has to settle the bill, and on the other hand, a young girl who herself is haunted by time. These two are biding their time, this case is off to a bad start, and the ending won’t be ordinary. She will inevitably leave, and he will inevitably die or, at any rate, find himself alone.
We regularly evoke the notion of a scandalous relationship between these two characters.
There was, in my life, this idea: from the moment you meet someone so young in public (because unfortunately, things get public quickly, especially when it’s news), in a big transgression of something – even if it’s not real – especially with moralizing pressure today, there was that urgency.
So I wrote the book in an atmosphere that was not there Bonnie & Clyde, but an atmosphere of bad conscience, which is one of the main themes of the book and many books for that matter. People who have a bad reputation (which may be my case) often have a bad conscience themselves.
IN Performance , the character accepts an offer from two producers to write a script for a miniseries about the Rolling Stones. In particular, we are talking about the years from 1967 to 1969, which seem to impose themselves as a literary tropism in your home. Why?
Because I’m obsessed. I happened to start with the death of Jayne Mansfield which happened in June 1967, then I did the death of Sharon Tate which happened in August 1969. And as I wrote Demons– my romantic fiction in three episodes, the second episode of which will be published in a short timeand which also takes place in this period at the beginning – I said to myself: I am a failed historian, a failed archaeologist, my little meadow where I dig, where I find pieces of pottery, bones, c is 1967, 1969.
As it corresponds to an aesthetically correct period, where there are many beautiful things (beautiful cars, beautiful films, beautiful stories, people with bright and lightning-fast destinies), I told myself that I would work there – up there.
I started writing at the age of 44, I limited the damage. People like Patrick Modiano have produced things that are somewhat always set in the same era or in the same atmosphere. I am 1967-1969. I told myself I would lock myself in there.
Does this period resonate with anything in your career?
Maybe there is a personal reason that I don’t know. Maybe it corresponds to the time when I was at Collège Stanislas, and when I had no control over my life. It was one of the few times in my life when I was really locked in and forced to do things. And maybe it hurt me, I felt it outside, it was much funnier, and that it is better to be 17 years old in 1967 than seven years old…
Performance, Simon Liberati, Grasset, 252 pages, €20. In bookstores from August 17, 2022.