Praise for 54x13

The first time I saw Jean-Bernard Pouy (J.-B.), he was slumped in a lounger in a little garden in Provence and was wearing orange mechanic’s overalls. I think that was the only time in my life I was ever really dumbfounded.

Since then nothing has changed (apart from the overalls) because one of the characteristics of this amazing man is that the passage of time seems to have had no effect on him; take his great shock of brown hair, for example, after twenty-five years there is no trace of thinning or grey hair.

I’ll grant you it’s a bit irritating.

Besides, I have to say he couldn’t care less about clothes or intellectual trends and fiercely refuses to call himself a writer when he writes or a painter when he paints – yet these are two talents in which he is blatantly an expert. Usually, he tends to lash out sarcastically if you try to pay him a compliment. He isn’t modest; he hates people talking about him, which comes as a bit of relief in our milieu.

J-B has no subconscious, at least that’s what he says. One would be wrong to believe that it’s just another way of sending up insignificant beliefs because he makes up for this alleged void with much rarer qualities than those heard on the psychiatrist’s couch. Absolute generosity, being true to his word and to his friends and a few other qualities that I won’t mention here for fear of his getting mad at me.

Patrick Raynal


54X13, is the relationship between the fifty-four-tooth front chain wheel, and the thirteen-tooth rear sprocket. The layout of the text on the page sometimes seems to follow the breathing rhythm of the racing cyclist and his thoughts along the way. All these thoughts are affected by the thing that so fascinates the Tour de France fan - pain. The inevitable pain of someone pushing himself beyond all physical limit, riding on roads lined with fans decked out and yelling. Is it possible to suffer so much pain and remain behind the scenes? The self-sacrifice of the cyclist within a team totally devoted to its leader can legitimately lead to a feeling of injustice, of hate and of wanting to take revenge. Not entirely able to escape the clutches of his favourite genre, Pouy manages to angle the sport storyline in the direction of a thriller. But to say any more would be a spoiler. In 2000 actor/director Jacques Bonaffé adapted 54X13 for the theatre.

Nathalie Burel, Dossier Le sport

And if it is not really in the Noir genre, this novel by the ‘maillot jaune’ of the French thriller writers, constitutes an amazing exercise in style. Fantastic!

Le Courrier de l’Ouest

The thoughts, the personal commitment and the clarity of a writer known for his clear-cut views at the centre of main-stream opinion are developed through the metaphor of cycling, in the midst of the maelstrom of thoughts going around the head of a racing cyclist in the lead[…] So 54 X13 is also for those who think cyclists are cretins and the thriller a second class genre.


Published at March 25, 2016