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TMR 15.4: “Marxist Hells Angel” [VERNON SUBUTEX]

Translator Katie Whittemore (Four by Four, The Communist's Daughter, World's Best Mother, Last Words on Earth) joins Chad and Brian to talk about the horrible actions of Patrice, and whether he could be redeemed, about childbirth, about Aïcha and Hyena, and about Disney. Funny and cutting, this episode explores the book's ...

TMR 15.3: “Vodka Satana” [VERNON SUBUTEX]

Caitlin Luce Baker of Island Books joins Chad and Brian to talk about a very nicely framed section of Vernon Subutex. We get introduced to Aïcha, who has, through Pamela Kant, just found out that her mom was a porn star before her death. (And had a fling with Alex Bleach.) We also get to see how the Hyena works (kind of), ...

TMR 15.2: “Yummy Mummy or MILF” [VERNON SUBUTEX]

Emma Ramadan—translator of Despentes's Pretty Things and Anne Garreta (among many others), and recent winner of the PEN Translation Prize—joins Brian and Chad to talk about how cool Despentes is, and how much slang she uses in her work. They also discuss the conflict that will drive the plot (Laurent Dopalet vs. ...

TMR 15.1: “Alexandre Bleach Is Dead” [VERNON SUBUTEX]

The fifteenth iteration of the Two Month Review kicks off in a big way, giving a quick overview of Virginie Despentes's life and work for Brian, and then launching into the wonderful world Despentes constructs filled with characters who are past their prime, who are flawed and don't hide their warts. The subtle ways in which ...

Season 15 of the Two Month Review: “Vernon Subutex” by Virginie Despentes

Following on the sprawling, propulsive, voice-driven masterpiece J R, we're turning to another amazing assemblage of unforgettable characters in Virginie Despentes's Vernon Subutex trilogy. Here's the description of Volume 1: From the provocative writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes comes volume one of her acclaimed ...

“Vernon Subutex 1” by Virginie Despentes [Why This Book Should Win]

Check in daily for new Why This Book Should Win posts covering all thirty-five titles longlisted for the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards.  Dorian Stuber teaches at Hendrix College and blogs about books at www.eigermonchjungfrau.blog. His work has appeared in Numéro Cinq, Open Letters Monthly, and Words without ...

Controversy & Value

I absolutely love the Virginie Despentes books that I've read, and Vernon Subutex 1—the first part of a trilogy that she concluded in 2017—is no exception. Like her other novels, the prose is direct, unadorned, and based very heavily in character. Very unlikeable characters. Offensive characters. Characters who are most ...