The Perfect Circle
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Winner of the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction (French language), Shortlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Marianne, a young Montrealer, has come to live in Tuscany to draw and write and examine her life. Here she meets Marco, a temptingly seductive man who still lives in his mother's house in the village and who's not prepared to commit himself to anything resembling a shared life. Though he breaks her heart, again and again, Marianne can only avoid him by returning to Canada. This first novel by Pascale Quiviger is marked by its luminous language and its unstinting look at what makes Marianne, and Marco, and, indeed, an entire village and the world beyond it, tick.
The first weeks, you spend inside, among the unopened boxes, waiting for the moment when you’ll have the courage to select a book and lose yourself in it. It goes on all summer. At summer’s end you realize that you haven’t had enough money for a long time now. You take any old job — sales, telephone survey, whatever. You write to him every week, he never replies. For yourself, you also write: The distance between beings who are thinking about one another, who don’t know where the other is or what he’s doing, who trust and who lose confidence, is something extraordinary.
The two were reconciled by erecting a vast, elevated basilica and under it, a squat crypt devoted to the worship of the holy remains. In the upper basilica, Giotto painted the famous cycle that recounts the life of Francis ad infinitum. His blue is different from anyone else’s, similar perhaps to that of a pair of scissors we had as a child and later on lost, along with the pleasure of our Sunday games. Around the characters, architectures whose groping perspective is reaching for the Renaissance without losing its medieval naïveté — they are talking, leaning towards people’s gazes, all gazes; those of visitors and those of Francis himself, of his friends, of the pope.
The anonymity of living things is a fundamental fact. He doesn’t take, he recognizes. Recognizes the apple in its vocation of apple and himself in his own hunger. He is in the order of things. He represents a rare, essential, anonymous witness. Of what? Of nothing. Precisely. His life is devoid of all the things that fill our lives, yet it goes on. It is something that, compared with useful activities, always risks being forgotten. It is the possibility, stubbornly postponed, of being merely one’s existing self.
I prefer the flesh. ” “The flesh comes from the kernel. ” “That’s true. So you believe in the eternity of the soul. ” “Probably. You? ” “No. ” “And when a person dies? ” “What do I know about that? ” “But you talk to your father now and then, you told me. ” “Maybe I’m talking to myself. ” “But the meaning of life — don’t you every wonder about it? ” “No. ” “I’ll ask you then: what is the meaning of life? ” “It’s ... to live. ” “And that’s it? ” “Yes. I’m at home here. ” “Here? ” “In life. ” “In your body?
There is no table, chair or hot water, and in the bedroom hangs a curtain his mother wanted put up, to shield their lovemaking from the neighbours’ curiosity. As for the armoire that belonged to the grandmother, she is advised not to touch it. A few weeks after Marianne’s arrival, Marco, suddenly tired of playing fakir on the bedsprings, decides to buy a mattress. He drives the Jeep into town. He chooses a double-bed mattress that’s wider than the roof of his car. He brings it to the village on the roof anyway, constantly checking it with his left hand to make sure that it won’t fall off.