We highly recommend this very clever, intriguing and thought provoking book that stays with you long after you close the last page.
SUITE FOR BARBARA LODEN BY NATHALIE LÉGER
Translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon To be published by Les Fugitives in March 2015 paperback, 128 pages, £12.00 ISBN 978-0-9930093-0-3
‘Brilliant little book’ – Valeria Luiselli ‘… an extraordinary book. It reads compulsively and is unlike anything else I have read. I found it fascinating.’ – Selma Dabbagh ‘ …immensely readable, extremely thought-provoking and really quite haunting (…) invites the reader to identify in very different ways, both unsettling, with the subject and the narrator simultaneously. As a writer myself, I particularly enjoyed the exploration of the difficulties involved in the act of writing. And best of all, it achieves that most elusive feat of never reading like a translation.’ – Lydia Syson ‘This beautiful book is striking for its echoes of artists who are either quoted or (never gratuitously) emulated, including Godard, Fred Wiseman, Sebald and Perec .‘ – La Quinzaine littéraire
A writer commissioned to pen a short entry on Barbara Loden for a cinema encyclopaedia is overwhelmed by her subject and embarks on a trip to America to expand her research.
How to paint a life, a personality? Loden’s sketchy biography draws the narrator to Duras, Perec, Godard, Plath, Kate Chopin, Melville, Beckett, Sebald and also a handful of ordinary people, each shedding light on the topic in the making: a singular homage to the 1960s American actress famously married to Hollywood giant Elia Kazan, and to her one and only film Wanda (1970), hailed a masterpiece of early cinéma vérité – an anti-Bonnie-and-Clyde road movie about a young woman adrift in rust-belt Pennsylvania. Her poignant grace. Her passivity and defiance.
As scenes from Wanda punctuate the pages, elements from the narrator’s own life and her mother’s start forming a fragmented mirror image. Acting and being woman. Baseball star Mickey Mantle talking about Proust in the Houdini museum. A shopping mall on the Côte d’Azur, American coal mining country and Holy Lands, 1960s motels, inaccessible archives, unhelpful contacts, the droll plight of the writer, the need to create… First published in France to enormous critical and popular acclaim, this is the first book about and inspired by one of the greatest, most unconventional actresses of her time.
Nathalie Léger is an award-winning French author, as well as an editor, archivist and curator. Supplément à la vie de Barbara Loden won the prestigious Prix du livre Inter 2012, voted for by readers across France. Other works include L’Exposition (2008), a semi-fictionalised essay about the enigmatic Countess of Castiglione, and Les Vies Silencieuses de Samuel Beckett (2006). She curated the 2002 exhibition on Roland Barthes and the 2007 exhibition on Samuel Beckett, both at the Pompidou Centre. Since 2013 she has been the Director of the Institut Mémoires de l’Édition Contemporaine, a unique cultural institute dedicated to the archives of 20th and 21st century French writers.