Bouillier, Grégoire 1960-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Bouillier, Grégoire 1960-

PERSONAL: Born 1960, in Tizi-Ouzou, Great Kabylia, Algeria.

ADDRESSES: Home— Paris, France.

CAREER: Painter and writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prix de Flore, 2002, for Rapport sur moi.

WRITINGS

MEMOIRS

Rapport sur moi (title means “Report on Myself”), Allia (Paris, France), 2002.

L’invité mystère, Allia (Paris, France), 2004, translation by Lorin Stein published as The Mystery Guest: An Account, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to L’Infini, NRV, and New York Times Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS: Paris-based writer Grégoire Bouillier is the author of Rapport sur moi, an award-winning memoir, and The Mystery Guest: An Account, “an ostensibly autobiographical novella that is charmingly absurd, gently metafictional, and gloriously French,” noted Booklist critic Brendan Driscoll. In The Mystery Guest, Bouillier receives a phone call from the woman who left him, without explanation, years before. Instead of discussing her abrupt departure, she invites him to serve as the “mystery guest” at a birthday party for her husband’s best friend, the artist Sophie Calle. The bewildered narrator accepts the invitation but is overwhelmed by suspicion and self-doubt as he deliberates endlessly on the caller’s motivations. “Anyone whose anxieties tend to buzz in the ear, creating a din that makes it impossible to act unself-consciously, will enjoy this slim volume,” noted Emily Bobrow in the New York Observer.“Mr. Bouillier is looking back and poking fun at himself, but the events are captured with a raw immediacy, making his parade of humiliations feel fresh and profound.”

The Mystery Guest received strong critical acclaim. Bouillier’s “text is brilliantly entertaining and at times hilarious,” Regan McMahon stated in the San Francisco Chronicle.“His biting observations have the ring of truth, whether he’s berating himself in his gloomy apartment, where for the longest time he refuses to change the lightbulb (a metaphor for the extinguished relationship) or mocking the celebrity artistic and literary elite he finds at the party.” According to Erica Wagner, writing in the New York Times Book Review, “This memoir—which is shot through with references to the literature that Bouillier loves, to Ulysses and to ‘Ulysses’ and to Virginia Woolf—gives shape to the question of ‘meaning,’ whether it’s illusory, whether that matters at all.”

“We’re always hearing that truth is stranger than fiction, and yet it’s amazing how many books act as if nothing happened and keep telling stories that can’t hold a candle to reality,” Bouillier told Yann Nicol in the Brooklyn Rail.“When it’s this continual tendency of truth—to keep being stranger than fiction—that is the very essence of the novelistic. And in everything I’ve written I’ve tried to capture this novelistic effect.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES

BOOKS

Bouillier, Grégoire, Rapport sur moi, Allia (Paris, France), 2002.

Bouillier, Grégoire, L’invité mystère, Allia (Paris, France), 2004, translation by Lorin Stein published as The Mystery Guest: An Account, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 2006, Brendan Driscoll, review of The Mystery Guest, p. 27.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of The Mystery Guest, p. 609.

Library Journal, October 15, 2006, Ali Houissa, review of The Mystery Guest, p. 59.

New York Times Magazine, October 15, 2006, Grégoire Bouillier, “Meanings of Origin,” p. 88.

New York Observer, August 28, 2006, Emily Bobrow, “A Mortifying Turtleneck No Cure for Heartache,” review of The Mystery Guest, p. 13; November 6, 2006, Sheelah Kolhatkar, “Who’s Le Plus Chaud? French Emo-Memoirist Grégoire Bouillier,” p. 1.

New York Times Book Review, September 17, 2006, Erica Wagner, “The Birthday Party,” review of The Mystery Guest, p. 8.

Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006, review of The Mystery Guest, p. 149.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 2006, Regan McMahon, “She Wants Him Back—As a Party Guest,” review of The Mystery Guest, p. M1.

ONLINE

Brooklyn Rail Online, http://brooklynrail.org/ (September, 2006), Yann Nicol, “Experiential Lit: Grégoire Bouillier with Yann Nicol, translated by Violaine Huisman and Lorin Stein.”

Time Out New York Online, http://www.timeout.com/ newyork/(August 24-30, 2006), Michael Miller, review of The Mystery Guest*.