I read Un soir au club by Christian Gailly.
A cute short story, Un soir au club , translated to An evening at the club, presents a man that has been dulled by his late life coming back to his origin, to his youth and his long time hidden desires.
Simon was a famous jazz singer, a piano player, who retired, got married, quitted drinking, and living a life as an electrical engineer. Just that one evening, he finds himself close to the piano again, and his old wishes resurface.
We are presented with the situation where the real character of a man still comes back to the present, even if ten years or more has been dormant. Simon is attracted by the mirage, the power, the feeling of the piano, and starts living again. He drinks again, he feels again, he is alive again. He falls in love again, meets a new woman, who stirs up all his desires that he thought long time lost.
He postpones telling his wife, he wants to spend more time with his new and old life in the same time.
The price to pay however is that his wife dies. I found the fact very much symbolical, even though from my point of view this was unnecessary in the novel and the main point of my dislike. The author could have proved his points even without this futile death.
The price Simon pays is not very much paid by him. He finds a new love, a new hope, a new dream, but the price is paid by his wife who loses her life. I find the solution at least a bit disturbing.
To move further, we are changed from a third perspective, observation, at the start of the story, to a much more personal approach, the storytelling from a first perspective of a presumable good friend of everyone in the book.
Simon, even though he was to blame for the life he used to live, for his suicide attempts, for the drinking, he is given redemption by his wife, who saves him, bears him a child, and gives him a much better life. And yet, even though this happens, Simon finds his way back to his old life, but still we see him as the good character, the innocent. He cheats on his wife and finds nothing wrong with it. He somehow even blames her for the dull life he is living, and thanks her when she passes away to give him his freedom.
Honestly I did not like Simon’s character too much. Egocentric, cheating, his only qualities are that he avoids lying, and that he is so good in what he does: piano playing.
His new life is starting with his new love, a woman which is much more suited for him: a singer, a bar owner, full of the American spirit.
Simon will live a better life, at the expense of the others.
Un soir au club is a short novel that presents a sometimes very true fact: we cannot change people, we can restrain them, but they will not be happy. Some people are ment to be in some way, and they need to follow their path, and hopefully not destroying other people’s lives.