What the reader has here is a generous, optimistic and thought-provoking work.

Roger Bozetto, Revue Solaris 182 


For his new book, Claude Ecken has ventured into dangerous territory. Strictly speaking neither novel nor collection of short stories, Au reveil il était midi seems more like a collection of accounts, portraits and scenes of daily life, that, put end to end, form a very detailed picture of our society and its very near future. The eviction of a family of squatters, a police control that gets out of hand, the administrative assault course facing  an unemployed single mother dealing with a hundred little bureaucratic hassles, a young geography teacher, victim of an absurd vendetta, each new story extends the preceding one and allows the author to identify and analyse the major trends at work in current French society, whether it be in the progressive disengagement of the State concerning certain functions, or of the worsening of the economic and social situation, or the more and more exacting and less and less optional recording on files of each citizen, among other themes addressed.

The potential pitfalls in such a project are many. The first would have been to write intimate stories of edifying and/or tear-jerking accounts. This is never the case. Claude Ecken never overplays the emotion card, keeping just a few strong passages for scenes of real humanity, and the empathy that we can feel for the characters is not a substitute for the rigorous, well-argumented analysis of the situations he describes. In addition, he avoids all Manichaeism in describing a wide palette of individuals, taken from every milieu, about whom he depicts their daily lives with a sense of detail and nuance that gives both depth and weight to his propos. Finally and above all, the author abstains from pronouncing any moral judgement on his protagonists that he is content to observe and describe in as objective a manner as possible.

The other big mistake would have been to make Au reveil il etait midi into a provocative protest booklet, to the detriment of all literary ambition. A trap which Claude Ecken avoids by working like a goldsmith on the form of each of his accounts, uplifted, moreover, by a writing style where elegance and precision jostle for position.

[...] This is what makes a remarkable book and indispensable reading, especially (but not only) during election time.

Philippe Boulier, Bifrost n°66

The title, taken from a poem by Rimbaud, illustrates Claude Ecken's propos - taking daily life as a starting point in order to advance a little further into the future.

Midi libre



Published at November 27, 2012