Marguerite Duras’ Yann Andréa Steiner, newly translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti, is a mixed bag — but one from which you can pick out and suck on dozens of her singular, morose, and often slightly unhinged insights. Here’s a spot-on observation about writing:
One never knows a story before it’s written. Before it has suffered the fading of the circumstances that led the author to write it. And especially before it has suffered, in the book, the mutilation of its past, its body, of your face, your voice, and it becomes irrevocable, fated. And I also mean that in the book it has become external, been carried away, separated from its author for all eternity, lost to him.
And here’s one of my favorite paragraphs from a section midway through the novella:
You understand, how could anyone resist that, resist someone so childish, who wants everything all at once? Who wants to rip up the books, burn them. And yet who fears for their disappearance. You knew the book already existed. You said to me, What is it you think you’re doing? What’s the meaning of all this? Writing all the time, all day long? You’ll be abandoned by everyone, because you’re insane, impossible to live with. A complete and utter bitch… You don’t even notice what a mess you make, with your drafts left scattered about the table….