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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Not One Day

Anne Garréta

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To purchase Not One Day

Title: Not One Day
Author: Anne Garréta
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 95 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Not One Day - US
Not One Day - UK
Not One Day - Canada
Pas un jour - Canada
Pas un jour - France
Ni un día - España
  • French title: Pas un jour
  • Translated by Emma Ramadan
  • Prix Médicis, 2002

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Our Assessment:

B+ : interesting, fairly successful exercise

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Bookforum . 4-5/2017 Lydia Perović
TLS . 7/7/2017 J.C.Sutcliffe

  From the Reviews:
  • "At the heart of Not One Day is a questioning of the assumption that desiring something means that we actually want it. This is a book about the allure of the possible, and about how desire for a person can be awoken merely by learning that they desire you. It explores how desire and distaste for the same person can be reconciled." - J.C.Sutcliffe, Times Literary Supplement

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:

       Not One Day comes with not only a post- but also an ante-script(um), book-ending pieces that examine what is on offer between them. The unusual title, 'Ante Scriptum' (rather than, say, 'preface'), is an appropriate choice, because Not One Day is an exercise in counter-writing, against her (usual) script. As Garréta challenges herself:

     Why not write something different, differently that you usually do ? Once more, but with a new twist, rid yourself of your self. Shed the accoutrements of this disentangling, keept at bay a little longer, if you can, who you think you are. Since you can no longer conceive of writing except in long, intricate constructions, isn't it time to go against the grain ?
       She hopes to capture, as the maxim (her word) has it: "Not one day without a woman", recounting a variety of encounters and (limited) relationships -- as: "archivist of your desires" -- but strictly from memory.
       Seeking immediacy, she insists:
No draft, no notebook to gather bits and pieces, no considered and composed architecture
       She hopes to embrace a form of automatic writing -- "No erasures, no rewriters" -- and the result is a series of vignettes of women, identified only by initial, and encounters that have figured in her life.
       It is an interesting exercise -- in no small part for what it reveals about the author, who always positions herself in relation to her subjects. She does so in a variety of (what can be seen as) guises and situations: an almost Kerouac-like roaming-the-American-roadways figure (often in a Pontiac Grand Am ("you liked its name: grande âme or grande dame), a bored conference-attending academic who never quite fits in, a devotedly literary soul ("You have carried thousands of volumes both ways across the Atlantic"), a club DJ.
       Garréta observes closely, but the encounters -- usually more or less fleeting -- allow her to see only slivers of her subjects' lives; the vignettes are of their intersection with hers. The sexual, and sexual tension, are frequently part of it, but there's more to these as well. The pieces cover a great span, including one from her lycée days, "ten years before the revolution of '89", revealing different facets of her character, at different ages and in different places (in the widest sense of the term).
       Writing in the second person adds to the sense of immediacy, and of close examination, making for an engagement with herself that is, on some levels, essentially confrontational -- a conversation, full of challenges, with herself.
       In conclusion, in her Post Scriptum, Garréta analyzes and reflects on her exercise -- noting that she didn't quite stick to the rules she set herself. It is writing: "at the margins of memory", and even though it is, per se, limited -- as that, and by the rules Garréta sets herself -- Garréta still achieves remarkable things in pushing those limits.
       An unusual spin on autofiction, Not One Day is a lively, intriguing little read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 April 2017

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Not One Day: Reviews: Anne Garréta: Other books by Anne Garréta under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Anne Garréta was born in 1962. She is a member of the Oulipo.

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© 2017-2021 the complete review

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