June 20, 2021

Ghosts, Creole storyteller, funny inspector …: our reading choices


This week, three novels are in the spotlight: Nightmare Alley, of the American William Lindsay Gresham, The Storyteller, the night and the basket, by Patrick Chamoiseau, and A cop far too honest, by Franz Bartelt. Euro football obliges, the drafting also looked at the test of Stéphane Floccari Why football?. Finally, a reissue: the reports by Vassili Grossman during the Second World War, Years of war.

ROMAN. « Nightmare Alley », de William Lindsay Gresham

Stanton Carlisle, a runaway teenager housed in a traveling circus, begins a life-saving social journey based on illusionism, the « spook racket », “The ghost swindle”, and the breach of trust. A life curve marked by three women: Zeena, a fortune teller who denies him and introduces him to the art of second sight; Molly, a young girl with too naive airs and a stage sidekick with seemingly total dedication with whom he pierces the music hall and sets up a real technology of the spiritualist scam; and the psychiatrist Lilith Ritter, who gives him access to a wealthy high society that he foams with a lot of psychic piracy and paranormal shows.

Tremendous fictional reflection on the social manipulation of language (accent, slang, rhetoric) and on the psychology of the swindler, Nightmare Alley, published in 1946, had already been translated in France in 1948 under the title The Charlatan. It is offered here under its original title, in a revised translation, and with a scholarly preface by writer Nick Tosches. The only success of William Lindsay Gresham appears as the compendium of his experiences, the sum of his fascinations and the elixir of his sufferings. Francois Angelier

“Nightmare Alley”, by William Lindsay Gresham, translated from English (United States) by Denise Nast, revised by Marie-Caroline Aubert, introduction by Nick Tosches, Gallimard, “Série noire”, 452 p., € 22.

TRIAL. “Why football? », By Stéphane Floccari

The kick-off of Euro 2021 on Friday 11 June heralds the cyclical return of the world’s most popular sporting spectacle. The amateurs prepare their passionate evenings, the contemptors, their avoidance strategies. Both of them can come together around a book: Why football?, by Stéphane Floccari.

The aim of this essay: to understand the “Mystery of the foot pushing the ball”. The philosopher seeks to account for football “As a practice accompanied by meaning and creator of values ​​for those who practice it and watch it”. It is therefore a question of thinking in a situation, ball to the foot or in this “Game without a ball” what the spectator’s activity consists of. On such “Definition surface”, then appears the real number 10 of this work, the philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch.

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