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Reading - Compassion for the Terrible Inside: The Swiss Author Quentin Mouron

Compassion for the terrible in us: The Swiss author Quentin Mouron

He has already written six novels and reliably delivers existentialist thrillers: Now four of Quentin Mouron's novels have finally been translated into German.

Oops, are they praising a cynic and book burner? The portrait photo on Quentin Mouron's website, which also illustrates this article, leads ironically and halfway on the wrong track. As a busy columnist in various newspapers in western Switzerland, he criticized the local literary scene. The sincere, uninhibited laughter had been lost, the readers wanted to "smell the serious". Mouron took Nicolai Gogol as a witness: The great humorist of the Russian literary classics would definitely be amazed at the "severity of our award-winning books", their "familial hemorrhoids" and "cute flirtations with the misery of the world."

The 30-year-old writer obviously has polemical talent. In another column he poured class struggle ridicule at essayists, sociologists and fortune tellers, who cynically earned their bread by raving about an alleged generation conflict and thereby merely covering up the real class differences. He also criticizes the journalists' unquestioned constructions: for example, because they reduced the French President François Hollande to a superficial and apolitical image - either as a vain, clumsy idiot or as a tactful, modest politician.

Another of his wonderful columns: After Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he mocked the Dylan admirers who criticized the award as "elitists". The same anti-art populism against so-called elites as in politics can be found in these rock admirers, etched Mouron.

With unsentimental compassion for the terrible in people

Actually, I wanted to report here about the writer Mouron. But his columns are important for understanding his books. Despite the rocker pose (caution: irony!) He has also become a social analyst with an eagle eye in his cool, dark novels - with an existentialism trained in Albert Camus and Raymond Chandler and a tendency towards the grotesque, as can be found in the films of the Coen brothers.

The fact that Mouron's novels are teeming with bitter cynics and unfounded failures in a shattered present has brought him a comparison with Michel Houellebecq.

So definitely no: Quentin Mouron is not a cynic. Because he portrays the terrible human existence with unsentimental compassion. It goes so far that at one point in “Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci” the narrator joins the action and gently prevents a desperate pedophile exhibitionist from entering a children's playground.

Typical Mouron: he is not afraid of pathos or philosophical impudence when he lets the narrator say about the pedophile:

The denial of free will gave him the opportunity to show his tenderness.

And adds as the motto of his own writing: “Because I know what sad people do, I went to him. And because I like people like that, I didn't hand him over to the police. " Quentin Mouron prefers to write about such disturbed people.

However, the portrait photo hits. Because there is at least one self-confident, well-read and reflective talent at work, who inserts a lot of quotations into his novels - from Dostoyevsky to Adorno, satirizing and ironicizing them, but also repeatedly using them for brilliant passages and analyzes of the present. You read crime novels with intellectual pleasure. After reading a few of his novels, one is tempted to believe the picture that a literary magician is at work here.

Friedrich Glauser has been a role model for him since his youth

In an interview with the magazine “Literarischer Month”, Mouron said that as an unmusical and unsportsmanlike boy who came to Switzerland from Canada at the age of 13, he had started to invent stories in order to appeal to the girls. Later he discovered Friedrich Glauser. Its analysis of human relationships is ingenious. He finds the following particularly fascinating:

Glauser is realistic with an open flank for the crazy, the human madness.

Mouron follows in the footsteps of Friedrich Glauser in sounding out social disruptions caused by disturbed outsiders. It is no coincidence that he loves the morphine-addicted Glauser. His novels seem a little like drugs in their feverish pace, the broken ambience and the change in the consciousness of some of the characters.

Mouron's own childhood in Canada, a stay in the USA, then high school and writing life in French-speaking Switzerland: he reflects all of this in his cool, bizarre novels, not autobiographically, but scenic and socially critical.

He tells of disturbed small dealers in the wintry Canadian province on their hopeless search for a little happiness or of the threatened life in run-down and crime-ridden US suburbs. In the latest novel about a smart Geneva yuppie who, as a modern rogue, mocks today's protest culture.

Whether it's a fatal horror story, a cool detective story or a shrill social satire: Mouron continues these genres in an original way and lets characters shimmer. In “Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine”, for example, he contrasts the self-doubting police officer McCarthy with a middle-class family idyll with the cocaine-addicted, nihilistic private detective Franck, who also plays a leading role in the follow-up thriller “Heroine”. In his hyper-intelligent aestheticism, Franck is reminiscent of the snob and serial killer Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho".

His new novel is a very funny polemic on the zeitgeist

While “Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci” was a milieu novel, “Three drops of blood and a cloud of cocaine” and “Heroine” were abysmal crime novels, Mouron's new novel “Vesoul” is an original zeitgeist satire with the figure of a postmodern Picaro, a follow-up to the picaresque novel. "Once in contradiction to the world, today it is its image," says the book.

The carefree free spirit and smart, arrogant snob and Geneva financial advisor, without any ideology or ties, takes the narrator as a hitchhiker to a congress in Vesoul, the capital of the Haute-Saône department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in France. There they find themselves in a "Republic Day" and thus in a grotesque marketplace with pacifist neo-Nazis, moral policemen in literature, conspiracy theories and avant-garde artists. It's a funny polemic about the smug zeitgeist - with which Mouron ties in with his mocking columns.

Other books by Quentin Mouron mentioned: - Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci. 103 S. - Heroine. 123 pp. Vesoul. 117 p. All novels are published by Bilgerverlag, translated by Barbara Heber-Schärer, Andrea Stephani, Holger Fock and Sabine Müller.