#282 Hallucinating Foucault

It would appear I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently (since the last time I finished anything was almost a month ago) which I’m going to put down to work and a collection of uninspiring books. I spied Hallucinating Foucault in the library a while ago (really can’t remember when anymore or what else I got) and didn’t recognise the author (Patricia Duncker) but it caught my eye, and then frustratingly I couldn’t rent it because someone else had reserved it so I then had to reserve it myself and wait – without even knowing if it would be worth the wait.

Happily it was – I picked it up on Friday and read it in one afternoon, probably a combination of its ideal length (less than 200 pages), determination now that I’ve got some time off and (not to do it a disservice) it’s easy-to-read style. Hallucinating Foucault is about a student writing his thesis about the works of a French author, Paul Michel, who, spurred on by his intimidating girlfriend, goes to France to search for said author. Michel has spent over a decade in asylums and is surprisingly not too difficult to track down – and even less difficult to make contact with. Gradually the (anonymous) narrator builds a relationship with Michel, who was intriguing both to the narrator and to me as a reader.

The eponymous Foucault was a philosopher and Michel’s long distance muse. I think a large draw of this novel is that despite being set quite recently (1990’s) it seems so completely detached from any kind of reality I could imagine  – the idea that a student could chase down an illusive esteemed writer and befriend him so intimately – probably because I have no idea what I’d want to say if I ever met any authors I admired (and because there are almost no French writers I do admire). The majority of the book I would say was enjoyable but not outstanding, but it did have a really good twist at the end.

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