Beigbeder, Frédéric 1965-
Beigbeder, Frédéric 1965-
Born September 21, 1965, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France; son of an employment counselor and a literary translator; divorced; children: Chlöe.
Agent—Editions Dargaud, 15/27 rue Moussorgski, Paris 75 018, France.
Writer, journalist, literary critic, novelist, and actor. Paris Première, literary columnist, 1997—; Flammarion (publisher), literary director, beginning 2002. Formerly worked in advertising. Founder and editor of periodicals Genereaux, 1992—, Deluxe, 1993—, and NRV, 1996—. Also founder and president of Caca's Club, 1984-93; founder and secretary-general of Prix de Flore, 1994—. Actor in films, including Les Infortunes de la beauté, 1999; Restauratec (television), 2002; Imposture, 2005; and Comme t'y es belle!, 2006. Previously worked in advertising, including for the firm Young & Rubicam.
Mémoires d'un jeune homme derange, Editions La Table Rond (Paris, France), 1990.
Vacances dans le coma, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 1994.
L'amour dure trois ans, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 1997.
Nouvelles sous ecstasy, Edition Gallimard (Paris France), 1999.
99 francs, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 2000.
14,99 euros, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 2001.
Dernier inventaire avant liquidation, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 2001.
Barbie, Editions Assouline (Paris, France), 2001.
(With Philippe Bertrand) Rester Normal, Editions Dargaud (Paris, France), 2002.
Windows on the World (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 2003, translated by Frank Wynne, Miramax/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.
Égoïste romantique: roman, B. Grasset (Paris, France), 2005.
Also cowriter and adapter for the film Les Infortunes de la beauté; contributor of reviews to periodicals, including Lire, Paris Match, Elle, Le Figaro Literaire and Techni art.; also contributor to Masque et la Plume, a literary radio program.
Writings have been adapted for films, including his novel 99 francs, and his short story "The Day All Women Loved Me."
By the age of thirty-five, Frédéric Beigbeder had published five novels, started four magazines and become "l'enfant terrible" of the French advertising world. From a privileged upbringing in the Neuilly section of Paris, Beigbeder graduated from prestigious schools and immediately set out to become a fixture of the Paris nightclub scene. A self-proclaimed dandy and literary snob, he organized soirees at a private club, chez Castel, for the in-crowd for ten years. This led him to ten years in the advertising business and, beginning in 1997, with Thierry Ardisson, he held court on the literary and cultural goings on of France nightly on prime time television. He is the founder and editor of three magazines, Genereux in 1992, Deluxe in 1994, and NRV, a literary review in 1996. Beigbeder's range as a literary critic also encompasses reviews and critiques for several French magazines.
The French advertising world was a rich pool of talent in the 1980s, and the most talented players attained rock star status. Beigbeder, along with film director Jean Jacques Beineix and musician and multi-media artist Jean Paul Goude, were considered the crème de la crème. This is the world Beigbeder ruthlessly dissects in his novel 99 francs, which is a thinly disguised roman à clef that apparently cost him his high-paying job at the multinational ad agency, Young & Rubicam. From the beginning of the book, the narrator claims that "I am writing the book to get fired." Beigbeder's premise is clear: everything and everybody is for sale. "In my profession, no one wants you to be happy, because happy people don't consume," the narrator tells us. He argues that advertising is a perversion of democracy. Bruce Crumley, reviewing the book for Time International, wrote: "Whether or not he wins one of the prestigious awards soon to be doled out during France's literary high season, Frédéric Beigbeder has already secured first prize for audacity with his novel, 99 francs, a hyperbolic savaging of the author's own profession, advertising."
Beigbeder's other novels are no less controversial: in his 1997 book, L'amour dure trois ans, he develops his theory that love cannot exist for more than three years. His Nouvelles sous ecstasy is an ode to drugs, especially the nightclub drug, ecstasy.
In the tradition of the urbane and cynical cultural arbiters of the twentieth century, Beigbeder's iconoclastic novels and biting reviews have won him a cult following in France. His novel Windows on the World has also been translated into English and tells of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, with each chapter in the book representing one minute, adding up to 105 minutes and ending with the final crumbling of the center's Twin Towers. In the novel, a young, divorced Texan father named Carthew Yorston takes his sons Jerry and David to the Windows on the World restaurant in one of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers and is soon trapped inside after one of the airplanes crashes into the building. As it becomes more and more apparent that they may not make it out alive, the father reflects on his failures in life. The novel also includes the reflections of a French writer after the event has occurred. Referring to Windows on the World as "a remarkable achievement." a contributor to the Economist went on to write that "this novel is steeped in both humility and deep affection for America." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Beigbeder invests his narrators with such profound humanity that the book is far more than a litany of catastrophe: it is, on all levels, a stunning read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Beigbeder, Frédéric, 99 francs, Editions Grasset (Paris, France), 2000.
AdAgeGlobal, December, 2000, Lawrence J. Spear, review of 99 francs, p. 10.
Bookseller, November 29, 2002, Barbara Casassus, "Author Takes up Flammarion Role," p. 10.
Economist, June 30, 2001, review of Dernier inventaire avant liquidation, p. 10; May 21, 2005, review of Windows on the World, p. 89.
Entertainment Weekly, March 25, 2005, Jennifer Reese, review of Windows on the World, p. 76.
Guardian (London, England), September 11, 2004, Josh Lacey, review of Windows on the World.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of Windows on the World, p. 1152.
Kliatt, July, 2006, Nola Theiss, review of Windows on the World, p. 17.
Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Patrick Sullivan, review of Windows on the World, p. 93.
National Review, June 20, 2005, Ross G. Douthat, review of Windows on the World, p. 48.
New York Times Book Review, April 17, 2005, Stephen Metcalf, review of Windows on the World.
Publishers Weekly, January 24, 2005, review of Windows on the World, p. 219.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2005, Sylvia Brownrigg, review of Windows on the World.
Time International, October 2, 2000, Bruce Crumley, review of 99 francs, p. 86.
Frédéric Beigbeder Home Page,http://www.chez.com/fulham/index2.html (November 29, 2006).
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (November 29, 2006), information on author's film work.
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (March 20, 2005), Laura Miller, review of Windows on the World.