Self-Portrait Abroad

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment


It’s not me, and I haven’t been abroad either, lately, but instead, it’s Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and I’ve just, in one glorious sitting, read his Self-Portrait Abroad, as translated by John Lambert and published by the heroic, publisher/organisation-of-my-literary-dreams the Dalkey Archive Press. It is a wonderful, uplifting, joyous book in lots of short, place-bound(ish) sections about location and its particularities, and travel, and leisure and adventure, and the passage of time and passages across space. There are lots of aeroplanes, some cultural envoying, a boules tournament, a premonition of death, meetings with old friends and new admirers, missed-meetings with acquaintances, a failed sushi-preparation lesson, reminiscences, train/car journeys, a social faux pas committed on a motorbike, Jean-Philippe and his friend dragging their Christmas shopping for their families into a striptease joint, and lots more. And in under 100 pages. Worth a go, certainly, and I want to read more!


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