Xavier Mauméjean at Words Without Borders

May 7th, 2015 § 0 comments


I hope to translate more of Xavier Mauméjean, the current reigning French master of the reimagined or “alternate” history, that SF subgenre. In January, he contributed “Cinépanorama” to Words Without Borders’ theme issue on alternate histories, guest edited by Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz. It seeks to answer the question: what if Alain Delon lost an eye during military service in Indochina and never became a movie star? Here’s an excerpt:

In your hotel room on Boulevard Rochechouart, you flip through the magazines. One photo at a time, so your eye won’t get tired. It takes you until late in the night. There’s no such thing as an innocent gaze. So you slip on your trenchcoat, headed for Pigalle. Smuggled cigarettes, gold-plated bracelets fallen from a truck, junk you pawn off on the gigolos just to seem in the know. Not that you’re diving into any fishy-smelling sidelines—the only thing you want to smell is Romy Schneider’s perfume. Pretty girl. You could’ve had her. A quick double espresso at the bar by the drag queens, maybe a croissant. Next to you, the mailman’s peeling his hard-boiled egg. Half of it disappears in one bite. You look away. The yolk’s yellow circle reminds you of an eye.

Xavier Mauméjean has a degree in philosophy and science of religions. He has won the renowned Rosny Award (the most important French award for science fiction) in 2005 and 2008. Mauméjean is also the author of short stories and radio plays for France Culture (winning the Grand Prix de la Radio in 2014), and works for television and cinema. He lives in the North of France, with his wife and their daughter, Zelda.

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