I discover that absence has a consistency, like the dark water of a river, like oil, some kind of sticky dirty liquid that you can struggle and perhaps drown in. It has a thickness like night, an indefinite space with no landmarks, nothing to bang against, where you search for a light, some small glimmer, something to hang on to and guide you. But absence is, first and foremost, silence. A vast, enveloping silence that weighs you down and puts you in a state where any unforeseeable, unidentifiable sounds can make you jump.Philippe Besson and Molly Ringwald (Translator), Lie With Me: A Novel
Lie With Me was one of the best books I read in 2019. It first came to my attention months before it was released in English, lauded as the next Call Me by Your Name. Side note: Can we stop doing this? By this, I mean using one work of LGBT art as the reference for its successors ad nauseam until something else captures the attention of the mainstream crowd. Okay? Thank you! Anyway, I was immediately attracted to the gorgeous black-and-white cover and when I saw that it was translated from the French by Molly Ringwald (yes, that one!), I knew I had to get my hands on it.
Luckily, it did not disappoint. No spoilers, but Besson’s novel is not an easy read. Because of the world LGBT people are forced to inhabit, so much of our lives are lived under a veil of secrecy, which engenders both shame and repression, neither of which are healthy. If not for love, we would all perish. Even in 2021, even in progressive areas of the world, the simple fact of existing as an LGBT person can invite stigma, ostracism, and violence. My hope is that one day everyone will wake up and realize that love is valid and should be celebrated in whatever configuration it expresses itself.
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