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Bewildering Stories

The Critics’ Corner

Floozman Is Not a Work of Literature

by Bertrand Cayzac

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“We have five minutes left,” the moderator says. “To end the program, I’d like to have your opinion on this little book — a novelty, really — that people are beginning to talk about.”

The cover of Floozman’s Adventures appears on the screen.

“I also hope we’ll be able to interview the author soon.”

The first author, a genteel and slightly portly man, speaks. “Ah, that book. Just a gag, a joke. A comic concept. It’s much too self-conscious. The author starts with a paradoxical messianic melodrama — it’s very theoretical — and derives from it a premise, then a character, and finally some adventures. It’s labored and hollow. But, I admit, for television...”

The second author, a young man, answers: “True, the premise is always in the foreground, but in the adventures the author shows real experiences, real suffering. His character demonstrates authentic compassion.”

“Caricatures. Clichés. It’s not enough to talk about compassion, you have to feel it in your guts!”

“The author does take the easy way sometimes, I grant you. But I don’t think that takes anything away from the quite remarkable poetry in the best chapters.”

A third author, an elderly lady, speaks in her turn: “I find Floozman very amusing. I’d say the character is based on both the human and the divine. He can’t become completely human in the form of Fred Looseman, nor can he become godlike when the gods lend him the power of prophecy. He can’t quite be himself or another. Think of Kierkegaard.”

“So? That’s very theoretical,” says the first author, sitting back in his chair.

“Let me finish, please. I mean that, like Kierkegaard’s work, this literary creation is based on theory and practice. Floozman is cast into the world, unstable and unhappy, like humanity itself. Despair would be a mistake. Floozman is a compound creature in the chemical sense, but he must save the world, and this duty allows him to look at the world, to come to grips with it. That’s why we have a work of literature, you see. Let’s go beyond the premise.”

“Well, thank you,” the moderator interrupts. “We were already short of time, but I hope we’ll have the chance to continue this discussion in a future broadcast. Meanwhile, please join us next week, when we’ll talk about vacation cruises.”

The credits roll.

Copyright © 2010 by Bertrand Cayzac
translation © by Don Webb

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