Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Four Faces of Jean-Philippe Toussaint

I’ve had Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s impish French face in my head for the last few days. I don’t make a point of Googling authors to see their faces, as I like to imagine them all overweight slobs in boggy backrooms chain-smoking and turning occasionally to let the slugs graze on the other side.

But this man, this happy smiling slaphead, author of thimble-sized books Camera and The Bathroom (each a mere 100 pages), has been sitting in there pulling faces. I think it’s the baldness. There’s something a tad menacing about him, something so oddly Scottish.

This picture in particular. He resembles every middle-aged beadle I bumped into when dragged along to Church as a nipper. With his folded arms and mean-looking mien, he could be any random pub-dwelling man, waiting for something to punch, for someone to stab.

And this image, God, how sinister! Is his skin made from wax? Does he intend to hypnotise me with his eyes? Is he a human Kaa? There’s a warmth in those eyes that borders on the psychotic. He’ll invite you around then ask if you prefer to be sautéed or grilled.

He looks so slyly concerned in this one, as though he’s listening to your attentive point about the future of the nouveau roman, but secretly plotting to steal your smoked sausage.

And finally, look at this! Here he’s doing his impersonation of a vicar turning into a skeleton. Or a skeleton mugging like a vicar. There is something fundamentally wrong with this image, about the way his head lights up with saintly wisdom. He barely fits his own skin, he can’t be a deity.

So that’s why JP Toussaint has been dominating my thoughts this week. Should you read him? No. Not unless you want your soul slurpied. Beware.


  1. Incredibly weird and funny.

  2. He kind of looks like Leon from Blade Runner.

  3. Chris! Play your move on Lex already!

    Leon was a bad guy, right? Yes, he's him.