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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Enough about Love

by
Hervé Le Tellier


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Enough about Love



Title: Enough about Love
Author: Hervé Le Tellier
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 230 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Enough about Love - US
Enough about Love - UK
Enough about Love - Canada
Assez parlé d'amour - Canada
Enough about Love - India
Assez parlé d'amour - France
Kein Wort mehr über Liebe - Deutschland
Adesso basta parlare d'amore - Italia
No hablemos más de amor - España
  • French title: Assez parlé d'amour
  • Translated by Adriana Hunter

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Our Assessment:

B+ : creative variations on the well-worn theme

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Bomb . Spring/2011 Lee Ann Brown
Elle A+ 21/10/2009 Patrick Williams
Harper's . 2/2011 Lorin Stein
Libération . 20/8/2009 Philippe Lançon
Lire . 10/2009 Christine Ferniot
The LA Times . 6/2/2011 Susan Salter Reynolds
World Lit. Today . 5-6/2011 Warren Motte


  From the Reviews:
  • "Fluidly translated by Adriana Hunter, Enough About Love graphs love’s disruptive geometries in a playful manner, at points making use of double columns, villanelles, and obsessive catalogues. If you, like me, prefer your erotic lit to be structurally stimulating on several levels at once, you’ll enjoy unfolding this scaffolded novel." - Lee Ann Brown, Bomb

  • "Certains musiciens ont l’oreille absolue, Le Tellier, lui, dans ce livre, a la plume absolue. Tout ce qu’il écrit sonne juste : les sentiments, les dialogues, les descriptions. Quand un poète comme lui applique ses expérimentations à la logique réaliste du roman, cela donne des phrases merveilleusement agencées, pleines de trouvailles verbales ravissantes, jamais gratuites. Légèreté grave, gravité légère." - Patrick Williams, Elle

  • "Enough about Love is awfully cute. It is also absorbing and witty, and the more impressive for its formal constraints -- not the oofing around with dominoes and numbered texts but the old-fashioned double love plot." - Lorin Stein, Harper's

  • "Délicatesse est le mot qui, après celui d’amour, donne le ton." - Philippe Lançon, Libération

  • "Assez parlé d'amour n'est pas une galéjade, c'est une fiction pleine de surprises qui extermine les banalités, refuse les phrases clés et les clichés en enfilade. (...) Assez parlé d'amour est un hommage à la littérature, aux femmes qui ont les seins qui tombent et même aux chansons d'Elton John et de Bernie Taupin." - Christine Ferniot, Lire

  • "It is a complicated novel, artfully told and translated and eerily familiar, the way love stories so often are." - Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times

  • "This is a book about love, certainly, but it is also a book about love stories, and the way in which those stories play out according to their own logic. Watching Hervé Le Tellier conduct that process as he leads his characters in and out of love, one is reminded that literature, too, is an affair of the heart." - Warren Motte, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Yves, one of the characters in Enough about Love, is an author, and one of his projects is a novel based on a variety of constraints -- of the sort an Oulipo-author such as Le Tellier might choose. His working title is Abkhazian Dominoes, but when he explains how he's planning to put the novel together his lover, Anna, is dismissive: "Too complicated. Pointless", she complains. And she at least shows a greater understanding of how to grab the attention of potential readers:

     "Make it simple. Is your book about love ?"
     "Yes."
     "Well, put 'love' in the title."
       The novel's Epilogue -- a brief summing-up-after-the-fact chapter -- reveals that Yves has finished his novel, and taken Anna's advice: "love is in the title". As it is here -- and, leaving aside for the moment whether or not Abkhazian Dominoes would have been the better and more attention-grabbing title (surely !), this novel clearly follows those same constraints Yves had set out for himself (though readers are also warned that: "Yves ends up never entirely respecting his own rules"). Enough about Love is an Oulipo-love-novel, with nods to other Oulipians and their work, and with a variety of constraints at work (and play) here. Enough about Love is also a modern love story, focusing on a few months in the lives of a number of men and women -- two married couples, and the two men the two wives get involved with.
       Enough about Love isn't very much about youthful passion: the men and women are all more or less middle-aged, the two couples settled down in marriages with children. One of the men who stirs things up is psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Thomas, a widower who is treating one of the women and then takes up with the other. More than a novel of first romances this is a novel of reassessing love -- the surprise of finding it again, as well as the sense of not being entirely satisfied with the comfortable familiarity marriage has bred.
       In fairly short chapters Le Tellier moves his stories back and forth between the characters; most chapters focus on a pair (and not just these six main characters), but some (as the rules dictate ...) also only on an individual. The overlapping and intersecting stories are relatively simple ones, presenting the affairs and their effects on all involved. Le Tellier captures both the characters' changing feelings -- Anna suddenly grasping that: "if she leaves Stan, if he becomes involved with another woman, she would feel no jealousy at all" -- as well as small details about their needs and desires (one can't get the worry about the threat of impecuniousness out of her mind, for example) The book treats the affairs rather casually -- maybe it's a French thing -- and there's considerable ambivalence; Le Tellier has a more difficult time conveying the depths of passion (if and where there is any). A few dramatic scenes of what amount to confrontation -- of husbands confronting their wives' lovers (or at least seeming to ...), or a pivotal moment when disaster involving one of the children is narrowly averted -- do work very well, but for the most part Le Tellier allows the characters to go through rather simple paces (though they (or rather Le Tellier) does mull over their actions and feelings a great deal).
       Writing is central to the novel, and not just because it is Yves' profession: Thomas notes: "a strong analogy between psychoanalysis and writing", and one of the husbands is an academic specializing in neurolinguistics. The characters are language-aware: for example, a character who sees the word 'Agricole' on a sign is described as not finding it incongruous, and she: "has always liked the adjective 'incongruous,' because it is itself incongruous". Le Tellier has this same character try to write her husband a letter (complete with struck-through bits) on her computer explaining why she is leaving him but doesn't wind up saving it:
She will never find the words to describe the abandon Thomas has brought about in her; it is crucial that she does not find them.
       This is also one of the novel's themes and ambitions: exact words aren't found to describe these passions and feelings, with little purple evocative prose on these pages. Rather, Le Tellier offers his variations on his theme in presenting the situations and what the character's bring to them -- their own baggage, as it were. Like his psychoanalyst-character -- who sees himself as an author-double -- Le Tellier allows the characters and situations to speak for themselves, giving at least the illusion of limiting his guiding-hand and/or interference.
       There's also variety to the presentation, as Le Tellier includes, among other things, a two-columned section (Yves reading from one of his works side-by-side with the thoughts of someone in the audience), an entire booklet Yves wrote and had published (in a limited edition of ten copies), and a chapter consisting entirely of an: Incomplete list of Anna's purchases. (from September 8 through December 21, 2007).
        Le Tellier warns at the outset, in the short Prologue:
Any man -- or woman -- who wants to hear nothing -- or no more -- about love should put this book down.
       Indeed, Enough about Love is all about love -- yet it's a very different sort of love-novel. If aspects of the relationships seem underdeveloped (again: perhaps a cultural thing) -- particularly the casualness with which the characters take up with each other -- it nevertheless is a fairly rich examination of love. Appealingly, its focus is on middle-aged love rather than purely passion-driven youthful love: these men and women have more or less found their places in life, certainly professionally; love now plays a somewhat different role and the surrounding factors that must be taken into account are also different ones.
       The Oulipian (and language) games in the novel are, for the most part, subtle enough not to be very intrusive: readers who catch the allusions or constraints can enjoy them, but those oblivious to some or all of them will probably get near as much out of it.
       Enjoyable and clever, Enough about Love is an appealing take on aspects of modern relationships and love.

- M.A.Orthofer, 25 November 2010

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Links:

Enough about Love: Reviews: OuLiPo: Other books by Hervé Le Tellier under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Hervé Le Tellier was born in 1957. He is a member of the Oulipo.

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