cover image Nothing Serious

Nothing Serious

Justine Levy, , trans. from the French by Charlotte Mandell. . Melville House, $15 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-9761407-7-1

When Louise's husband, Adrien, leaves her for his father's lover, Paula, a surgically enhanced model, the troubled young Parisian editor finds the joy has been sucked out of her life. The daughter of Bernard-Henri Lévy, the author (The Rendezvous ) evokes the misery of heartache and unsentimentally conveys her protagonist's hollow sense of desolation in stylized, fragmentary prose. ("Into the trash with all secondhand pre-used words, it's like my heart, and my body, they're also secondhand, they've also loved, suffered, so what?") As the narrative progresses, seamlessly moving between the present and Louise's recollections of her fraught marriage, she slowly begins to see Adrien for the belittling, controlling and vain miscreant he was during their time together. Adding to the list of Louise's sorrows is the death of her beloved grandmother as well as the long-undetected cancer threatening her mother's life, but romance with Pablo, a devoted Spaniard, buoys her spirits. A delicious cynicism creeps onto every page as Louise recounts her dysfunctional marriage, her addiction to amphetamines and battles with low self-esteem. Lévy's memorable if neurotic protagonist proves loveable despite her many flaws, and the novel is distinguished by that particularly intriguing brand of French fatalism. (Oct. 1)