Adonis Diaries

“Amorous sabotage” by Amelie Nothomb

Posted on: December 9, 2008

“Le sabotage amoureux” by Amelie Nothomb ((book review, December 10, 2008)

I have read 6 out of 16 books that Amelie Nothomb has published since 1992.

After I finished reading a book I exclaimed: “This is the most hilarious, most intelligent, and the most instructive book that I read”.  It never fails:  “Le sabotage amoureux” is the one and the best.

Every paragraph generates a laugh, a tragic-comic laugh. Any one with a humor spirit and who laughs easily might find himself incarcerated in an asylum by the end of the book.

Except for “Sulfuric Acid” that I have harshly critiqued, and I am still convinced that it was not written by the same Nothomb: I felt it was Not her style at all.

The “Amorous sabotage” is the story of a 7-year old girl falling totally and unconditionally in love of another 6-year old girl named Elena.

Amelie finds Elena the most beautiful girl in the whole world and Elena is the most conscious girl of her beauty and power to subjugate anyone

Elena’s lonely behavior of staying above the fray, walking very slowly and looking straight ahead was hiding a most dangerous inner power that did not encourage her to fall in love.  She still demanded that people look fixedly at her beauty and forcing deference to her presence.

The story is located in Peking during the monstrous “Gang of Four” rules that decimated China by famine and hurt in its spirit by destroying its past culture and manuscripts.

It is the years between 1972 and 75 and in the “ghetto” where the foreign diplomats were forced not to cross or mingle with the Chinese population.

The Chinese cook used to frequently recall the good old-time “dans l’autrefoid” (which he pronounced “dans l’eau tres froide”); a habit that cost him to disappear in thin air and be replaced by a lady cook who was convinced that there was no past to China.

Little Amelie defined communist States as series of City of Fans (ventilators).  The kids of the foreign diplomats in the ghetto had great times: they had their own war to fight and to torture the kidnapped enemy.

They started by the “Allied” kids against the East German until the leader of the East German kids suffered chronic bronchitis from frequent immersion in urine and forgotten over night to be released.

Amelie was the center of the universe, as she remembers, until she saw the new comer Elena.  The center was transferred to Elena by Amelie who could not stop looking at her and falling helplessly in love with Elena.

Amelie quickly realized that she does not exist to Elena but she had “to do something” to attract Elena’s attention.  Amelie was ready to obey any order from Elena and ran the school court 80 times, at Elena’s wishes, who didn’t even notice that the asthmatic Amelie was running.

The French Fabrice, a boy of 6, made Elena look at him and even he managed to produce a smile from her.

Amelie had categorized society into three classes: the adult girls (including mothers), the little girls, and the ridicule (all the rest of human kinds, especially those with ridiculous penis).  Fabrice was definitely in the group “ridiculous” and Amelie could not comprehend how Elena could stoop so low.

Amelie got seriously love-sick and her mother gave her the consignment to act as cool and as distant like Elena if she wanted Elena to love her.  Amelie obeyed and stuck to the consignment and Elena noticed her very much.  Elena started to invite Amelie to her house to play with her but Amelie consistently refused.

One day, the miracle happened. Elena cried saying “Amelie, you don’t love me”.

Amelie did the capital error of telling Elena that she was lying all the time, that it was all a role play, and that she never stopped loving her.  The table was turned over and Elena replied “That is all that I wanted to know” and resumed her older distant behavior toward Amelie.  It was about time to leave China to New York.

Twenty years later, Amelie overheard her father saying that Elena is gaining fast the title of “femme fatal” in Rome; many sweet hearts have committed suicides.  Amelie was overjoyed because Elena stayed loyal to her legend.

This book is packed with political acumen and sharp criticism of the ridiculous life and world of the grown ups, told from a kid’s perspective.

Humor has three pre-requisites: clear purpose, clear plan, and clear ideas; no wonder humor is a rare commodity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




December 2008

Blog Stats

  • 1,513,503 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 820 other followers
%d bloggers like this: