Jours d’Amérique, 1978-2011

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“Loving a city ? What does that really mean ? ” Jean-Christophe Bailly

A thousand miles away from the clichés (the intoxication, vertigo, eccentricity, power, energy) that one can ready pretty much anywhere about New York, and which continues to nourish a literature that is as fruitful as it is lacking in interest, Jean-Christophe Bailly examines the feeling of flotation, irreality, and maladjustment–this state of hyper-availability that all visitors feel, but that Bailly puts into words better than anyone.

“Les rues du village ont l’air de ne rien attendre, de ne rien vouloir. () Mais en d’autres lieux, la ville défend son calme en volant ce qui lui résiste. Glisser, glisser dans le labyrinthe, sans laisser de trace. mais le rapport n’est pas ainsi. L’infiltration du lieu se fait par des pores invisibles et il reste une succession d’images.”*

“Fragments bruts d’humanité délaissée comme nulle part sous les apparences du fonctionnement climatisé de milliers de machines.”**

Like they are suspended in time — “thought in flotation establishes disappearing landmarks”–, presenting themselves to us in the form of incandescent fragments, Bailly’s wanderings take place primarily in downtown Manhattan by the docks.

Suspended visions that are not lacking in tension:

“Lecture d’une interview de Ginsberg dans le Village Voice. Stupidité des prophètes. Tout cela, si vieux. Pourquoi ne parlent-ils pas de leur fatigue ? Toujours en forme. Toujours prêts pour l’assaut de la forteresse ou en même temps, ils font pousser des fleurs sur des balcons tranquilles.”****

Nor the feeling of fear:
“L’angoisse en Europe a partout des recoins ou s’encastrer, s’incruster –dans les être et dans les pièces où ils vivent () ici, l’angoisse n’a pas ses coins, ces reposoirs de sa procession historique, elle flotte dans l’espace, elle est comme une peur peut-être, –comment savoir ?– c’est toujours ce qui est neuf qui danse.”*****

One could go on citing whole pages since reading Jours d’Amérique is such a strange experience for the reader who accepts to let themselves go, to follow the traces of JC Bailly’s wandering. The author’s sentences summon your memories, appearing between the city and yourself, getting mixed up in your own personal vision of the place. Spellbinding.

Jours d’Amérique, 1978-2011, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Fiction & Cie, Editions du Seuil

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“The streets of the village have the air of expecting nothing, of wanting nothing. () But in other places, the city defends its calm by stealing what resists it. Slipping, slipping into the labyrinth, without leaving a trace. But the relationship is not like this. The infiltration of the place is done through invisible pores and remains a succession of images.*

“Raw fragments of humanity left abandoned like nowhere else under the appearance of the climatized functioning of thousands of machines.”**

“Reading an interview with Ginsberg in the Village Voice. The stupidity of prophets. All this, so old. Why don’t they talk about their fatigue? Always feeling good. Always ready to both assault a fortress while or to grow flowers on their tranquil balconies.”***

“Hostile country lives in silence, immobile sleep where phantoms crinkle paper bags that the day erases if it has an allure, the wind carrying like a boat”****

“The anxiety in Europe has corners everywhere where it embeds and incrusts itself–in living beings and in the rooms where they live ()–here, anxiety does not have its corners, its morgues of historic procession, it floats in space, it is like a fear maybe–how can you know?–it is always what’s new that dances.”*****

After almost two decades of working in publishing, and a few round trips between Paris and New York, Miriam has decided to settle down at Albertine to do what she enjoys most: recommending books she loves. Somehow this also includes taking bizarre pictures for Albertine's social media outlets.
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