Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: THE END OF EDDY, by Édouard Louis

The End of Eddy, by Édouard Louis. Published 2017 by FSG. Literary Fiction. Translated from the French by Michael Lucey.

The End of Eddy is a tough read. Sitting somewhere between fiction and autobiography, Édouard Louis tells the story of himself as a boy, growing up in a blue collar town in northern France, a perpetual misfit- effeminate, bookish, and gay in a world where everyone had to be rough and tough.

What you get out of this book will depend on where your own focus is. What I related to was Eddy's (and I'm going to talk about this in terms of the character rather than the author, since it is ostensibly fiction) struggle to come of age in a community and a family that just didn't know what to do with him. For me he really nailed what it's like to grow up in a world where your possibilities are so limited, and where you face scorn for grasping at something better. The life offered to Eddy involved getting drunk, having sex with girls and working in the same factory that everyone worked in. And because he was different, his life in particular would involve endless, endless abuse and bullying.

It's the last bit that is the most harrowing- the constant day in, and day out harassment and stalking he endured at the hands of his classmates and the terror that that bred in him. It actually feeds his determination to attend a different high school than the one his parents had marked out, because Eddy doesn't want to encounter those boys ever again. Louis really makes the reader feel that fear. If you've ever experienced anything like it, you'll feel it even more. And there didn't seem to be much respite, even with his own friends or family, because he was always hiding and trying to fit in.

Reading this book I thought about someone I used to know who spent part of his younger years working in a meat packing factory between college and grad school. It was so bad, he actually wouldn't talk about it in any detail so I don't really know how it compares, but I know how even his tone of voice when he talked about it broke my heart.

Eddy does survive (my friend did too), and he does get out, but the book is a testament to the scars left behind. So I guess in conclusion I would say that I recommend the book but it is disturbing if ultimately hopeful. Louis's style is spare and unadorned, direct. It'll stay with you.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

1 comment:

Mystica said...

Sounds like a tough read, but intriguing. Thanks for the review. A new author and book for me.