“Riyad”, by Jean Guerreschi, Serge Safran, 160 p., €16.90.
It’s such a short strange book. Riyadhof Jean Guerreschi, the author of Get on the front line (Julliard, 1988), which has not published anything since 2010. Remarkable pages for the veracity of an impeccably balanced sentence in which the confrontation with death rubs shoulders with others that can leave more doubts when it spills over the sex of the desired woman , in Paradise. Because the text, by inviting us to an enclosed garden in the heart of the Marrakech medina, calls for paradise, if we remember the Greek term from which this word comes: paradises, which specifically designated the closed park of the Persian kings and nobles.
The reader can only conceive of the strong desire to one day meet the riyad (or riad, thus written in The world) El-Hafdi, a large residence organized around a garden that is its soul. Nothing is impossible in that, since the house that was that of Denise Masson, the first woman to translate the Koran into French, has since become a place of residence for research and creation. Jean Guerreschi, who stayed there, is sensitive to the spirituality of the place and the mystical conception of it, which have earned us several luminous pages.
A disturbing erosion of desire
The protagonist of the novel lands there in turn, two days after having been on the verge of death on the plane that was to take him there. “He did not immediately understand when he got up that this morning would be his last, the morning of the day that no other day would follow. Nothing told him that it would be his last, and yet every hour of this day gave him signs of it.we read in the opening lines of the story, conducted from beginning to end in the third person.
The photographic reproduction, in the text, of a press article entitled “Mérignac Airport – A fuel leak” reinforces the confusion that arose from the beginning between the author and the character, a writer by profession, while attesting to the veracity of the anecdote: when he got on the plane, the second noticed through the window an anomaly in the wing. If he hesitated to relate it, it was because of his incompetence, of course, but also because of a strange fatalistic lethargy: he was then going through a period of intense fatigue, a persistent erosion of desire, which is described in very Proustian terms (“The desire that had started the trip project was too old, it had vanished. Now there was only the weight of the habits to lift to replace it with new ones.). The plane was already taxiing when he finally decided to call a flight attendant. One of the technicians confesses that, “If they had taken off, it was a guaranteed mid-air explosion.”
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