mardi 17 septembre 2019

Mini-note de lecture

Aimez-vous P.G. Wodehouse et Jerome K. Jerome ? Si oui, vous aimerez aussi Alphonse Allais. C’est avec délice que je suis en train de relire L’Affaire Blaireau. Si vous ne connaissez pas, je vous envie presque : vous vous envolerez comme un cerf-volant soutenu par le frais courant de l’ironie, mais aussi de la nostalgie pour un monde qui n’a jamais vraiment existé : celui de la Belle Époque. 

« Je suis en faveur de l’égalité » aurait dit Alphonse Allais : « Je pense que tout le monde devrait être assez riche pour avoir des serviteurs ». J’ai voulu vérifier l’authenticité de cette citation sur le Net, mais je n’ai rien trouvé. En parlant de riches, c’est peut-être justement parce qu’on ne prête qu’à eux.

dimanche 8 septembre 2019

The miseducation of Cameron Post

Emily Danforth’s The miseducation of Cameron Post.

Just one shade of criticism : the teenage slang in what we could call Part II, i.e. after Cameron’s first intimate friend goes away to a private boarding school in the East, and before she, herself, is sent to a religious reform school. Slang of any kind ages too rapidly. Ten years on, and no one can understand a word of it any more.

Apart from this mild reproach, the novel (part autobiography ?) takes you by the throat. Cameron is not a perfect child. Who is, or ever was ? But she is basically a nice girl. For most couples, she would be a joy to have around. She is 12 at the start of the novel, which is when she loses her parents in a car accident. It’s also the time when she starts finding other girls attractive. Her first crush (they never do more than kiss) goes away to boarding school. 

As an orphan, she is placed into the care of her aunt Ruth who, on the surface, is not a bad person, but she is a religious nut. Poisoned by her intolerance, she sends Cameron to a private boarding school ($9,000 a year in 1990 taken from Cameron’s inheritance) where the staff will attempt to “cure” her of lesbian tendencies.

Cameron will meet some interesting and colorful students (the staff call them “disciples”). Solid friendships are forged among the kids. The core of the novel, however, is the narration of all the efforts the school makes to change the children, and turn them into something they are not. I’m not betraying any ending if I say that the school will fail miserably, something the reader can sense from the start.

The sickening, smiling, unctuous approach of the teachers trying to “help” the children creates an oppressive, stifling atmosphere not far from what you would expect in a horror story. In fact, it is a horror story. One boy, the only one who accepts to be “cured”, becomes so appalled by his “sins” that he attempts to emasculate himself.

The reader suffers along with the victims, but on the literary level it’s an oddly enjoyable suffering, kept alive by the author’s talent.  

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is yet another powerful indictment of a religion, supposedly the home of love, charity and compassion, but in reality governed by control freaks obsessed with victimless “crimes”.